Educational Leadership and Organisational Development

Educational Leadership and Organisational Development

Educational institutions and systems are highly complex, dynamic organisations.

The critical role of quality teaching in enabling all students to fulfil their true potential is well recognised. However, exactly how our educational leaders -- and the structures and management practices they oversee – can best support teachers to improve student outcomes is less clear. The Educational Leadership and Organisational Development Research Group aims to deepen our understanding of educational leadership, organisational structures and management practices – and how they foster, or frustrate, teacher satisfaction and student learning. This is an urgent question as Australia’s international literacy and numeracy rankings continue to slide, relative to comparable developed nations, and as the attainment gap widens between Australia’s most socioeconomically privileged students and their less advantaged peers.

Notably, the group brings together internationally-recognised academics covering every stage of education; early childhood, the school years in our government, Catholic and Independent systems, as well as tertiary education at colleges and universities. Working alongside the Department of Educational Studies’ comprehensive teacher education program, and in collaboration with a substantial network of practicing teachers, educational leaders and decision-makers, the group has the invaluable opportunity to generate and translate new knowledge within authentic educational settings. By delivering new evidence-based insights, the Educational Leadership and Organisational Development Research Group is informing leadership, management practices and policy across all of Australia’s education systems -- and across all the life stages.

While research confirms a strong correlation between satisfied teaching professionals and student learning and achievement, this is not a simple link. Educational institutions and systems are highly complex, dynamic organisations subject to multiple variables and shifting pressures. This is particularly so in Australia as our educational institutions seek to balance the considerable demands of external regulations and standardised requirements with the benefits of local initiatives -- while at the same time complying with accountability measures, often in form of narrowly-framed national student tests. As such, teachers’ energies can be diverted away from the all-important student focus.

We need to better understand educational leadership, organisational structures and management practices in Australia.

The large volume of research worldwide into leadership and organisational development across various business sectors and industries -- as well as key lessons from education systems overseas – is very useful. But, as every educational institution is different -- and as Australia’s educational context is unique -- we need empirical evidence from local research that never loses sight of achieving the best possible outcomes for Australian students. We need to better understand educational leadership, organisational structures and management practices in Australia. This may, for example, involve investigating early childhood settings, and issues such as equity of access, as we know early childhood education lays the foundation for lifelong learning. It may suggest limiting student intakes for teacher education to the very best, as has proved successful overseas. It may also require new ideas to improve the social standing and salary levels of teachers to promote teacher retention, or the transfer of more control to individual teachers over what and how they teach. The Educational Leadership and Organisational Development group aims to deliver a deep understanding of educational leadership and organisations and a clear appreciation of the many factors that interact to shape of our Australian educational landscape. By better understanding the complexities of Australia’s educational institutions and systems we can make sounder, evidence-based decisions to improve the prospects of every Australian student.

Our researchers:

Dr Sandra Cheeseman: Educational Leadership in Early Childhood; Curriculum in Early Childhood; Infant and Toddler Pedagogic Practice.

Dr John De Nobile: Educational leadership; organisational behaviour; classroom management.

Dr Laurie Field: Leadership and management in educational organisations; educational change; organisational knowledge and learning in schools.

Dr Fay Hadley: Leadership in early childhood education; partnerships with families; professional experience and mentoring.

Dr Norman McCulla: Educational leadership; school education policy and practice; teacher career stage trajectories; teacher professional learning and development.

Dr Greg Robertson: Performance development; teacher evaluation; professional learning.

Professor Manjula Waniganayake: Educational leadership; early childhood policies; early childhood workforce; families; professional learning and development.

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