University Of Tasmania

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Successful school principalship in small schools

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 22:09 authored by Ewington, J, William MulfordWilliam Mulford, Kendall, D, Edmunds, WJ, Kendall, LR, Silins, H
Purpose - The special characteristics of small schools appear to set them apart from larger schools. In fact, small schools may be a discrete group in that their complexity may not be in direct ratio to their size. The special characteristics of small schools may include the absence of senior staff, administrative assistance on a part time basis only, conservatism and role conflict within the community, and lack of professional interaction. This paper aims to explore these issues by analysing data from a recent survey on Tasmania successful school principalship. Design/methodology/approach - Results from a survey with the population of Tasmanian principals in schools of 200 or less students are compared with previous research findings from the limited literature in the area. Findings - The study has confirmed that contextual demands result in role conflict for teaching principals, that principals of small rural schools are mobile, staying for short periods of time, and that a higher proportion are female. Statistically significant differences were found among small rural schools of 100 or fewer students and small rural and urban schools of between 101 and 200 students. These differences were best explained by combination of the "double load phenomenon" and the increasingly mandated requirements for the implementation of growing amounts of Department of Education policy, rather than rurality or socio-economic status. Practical implications - Given the combination of the expected large turnover in the principalship in Australian schools over the next five to ten years, the high proportion of small schools (at least one-quarter) and the unlikely change to the traditional career path wherein, for many, becoming a principal of a small school is the initial step progressively moving to large schools, the findings add weight to the need for greater attention to be paid to small school principalship. Originality/value - The study adds to the very limited research into successful school principalship in small schools. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


Publication title

Journal of Educational Administration










Faculty of Education


Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Place of publication


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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Management, resources and leadership

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