What makes an effective principal?

by Robert Ballantyne19 Nov 2015

The Effective Leadership report, released yesterday, outlined how principals can have a substantial impact on student outcomes.

“Their impact may be less direct than teachers’, but their effectiveness is felt by all students in a school. The most effective principals have a sustained focus on improving teacher quality and student learning,” the report stated.

“Today, expectations of school principals are higher than ever before.”

The report comes in the lead up to the Principal Health and Well-being report, the culmination of an annual survey exploring principals’ working conditions, often revealing the extent of stress, burnout and violence that comes with the role.

Among the key messages in the report were that many NSW government school principals are at or nearing retirement age, with nearly two-thirds aged 50 years or more, making succession planning important for NSW.

The report also found that principals have the second biggest in-school impact on student outcomes after classroom teaching, though it can take several years for them to achieve their full impact in a school.

The most effective leadership, said the report, has “a very strong instructional focus” and is constantly seeking to improve student learning and outcomes.

It also found that the leadership practice with the greatest impact on student outcomes was “promoting and participating in teacher learning and development”.

A section of the report titled ‘What makes an effective leader’ recommended six practices for principals to drive improved teaching and learning outcomes in their school. They were:
 
*Establishing goals and high expectations
*Planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum, including systematic use of assessment data to monitor learning and adjust provision
*Leading teacher professional development
*Ensuring a supportive and orderly environment
*Resourcing strategically
*Developing and maintaining an evaluative mindset for ongoing improvement
 
 

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