University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Successful School Principalship in Late-Career

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 23:27 authored by William MulfordWilliam Mulford, Edmunds, WJ, Ewington, J, Kendall, LR, Kendall, D, Silins, H
Purpose - Who are late-career school principals? Do they continue to make a positive contribution to their schools? Do they feel tired and trapped or do they maintain their commitment to education and young people? The purpose of this paper is to explore these issues, employing the results of a survey on successful school principalship with the population of Tasmanian government school principals. Design/methodology/approach - Surveys on successful school principalship were distributed to a population of 195 government schools (excluding colleges and special schools) in Tasmania. Return rates were 67 per cent for principals and 12 per cent for teachers. Surveys sought responses in areas such as demographic characteristics, leadership characteristics, values and beliefs, tensions and dilemmas, learning and development, school capacity building, decision making, evaluation and accountability, and perceptions of school success. Findings - The findings confirm other research indicating that pre-retirement principals, when compared with other principals, are more likely to have a strong work ethic, to consult widely and to have a strong social consciousness. The findings contradict results from other research indicating that pre-retirement principals, when compared with other principals, are more likely to be rigid and autocratic, disenchanted with and withdrawn from work, and "tired and trapped". Practical implications - Such findings lead one to conclude that pre-retirement principals continue to be a committed and valuable resource and that therefore greater research and policy attention should be given to the issue. With education systems undergoing major and continuing change, while at the same time suffering potential shortages of effective school leaders, it is time to re-examine educational career structures, especially for those principals approaching retirement. Originality/value - The paper's originality lies in the evidence it provides about an area that is not well researched. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


Publication title

Journal of Educational Administration








Faculty of Education


Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2009 Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Management, resources and leadership

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager