University of Tasmania

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Leading from the middle or locked in the middle? Exploring the world of the middle-level non-state school leader

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 02:08 authored by Cranston, NC
The principalship in Australia and elsewhere has been the focus of considerable research in the past few decades. Less well researched have been those holding middle-level leadership and management positions in schools, such as deputy principals, heads of school and so on (Kaplan & Owings, 1999; NCSL, 2003). While Marshal! (1992) in the USA, Jayne (1996) in the UK and Harvey (1994) in Australia among others have attempted to address this dearth to some extent, more recent work by Cranston, Tromans and Reugebrink (2004) suggested that those holding such middle-level leadership positions in schools, certainly in secondary schools, were struggling with what could be termed a reconceptualisation of their positions. The struggle grew, in part, from a reflection on what they were doing on a day-to-day basis in their roles and what they would prefer to be doing, within a context of changing principal, school community and personal expectations and parameters. One of the acknowledged limitations of this earlier study was that it was confined to state schools only, raising the question as to whether similar findings and struggles might be evident for those in non-state schools in Australia. The research discussed here is an exploratory first-step in addressing this question as it reports data from middle-level school leaders in the non-state sector in Queensland and New South Wales. It suggests that many middle-level school leaders in the non-state sector, like their counterparts in the state sector, are struggling with challenges to, and a reconceptualisation of their roles. Of note is that their potential contribution to the leadership capacity of their schools is not being fully realised.


Publication title

Leading and Managing








Faculty of Education


The Australian Council for Educational Leaders

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Copyright The Australian Council for Educational Leaders 2006

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