University of Tasmania
whole_BoardmanMargotJ1999_thesis.pdf (18.77 MB)

The nature of educational leadership in the early years, kindergarten to grade 2, in Tasmanian schools

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posted on 2023-05-27, 06:56 authored by Boardman, Margot J
Leadership is of critical importance in all facets of successful education. The early childhood sector is no exception. Recent devolution of decision-making from the central authority to individual school-based management has resulted in significant changes in leadership provision in Kindergarten to Grade 2 (K-2) education. Leadership has become more generically conceived, resulting in many substantive leadership positions in K-2 education being filled by individuals who possess qualifications other than those related to early childhood education. Investigating the nature and effects of this changing K-2 leadership is the focus of this study. Through questionnaires specifically designed for the study, it sought to investigate K-2 leaders' (N=40 principals and early childhood senior staff) and teachers' (N=101) perceptions regarding the nature of, and challenges for, leadership in K-2 education, from a stratified sample of 30 schools from two Tasmanian districts. Comparisons were also undertaken based on gender, position classification, area of specialisation, school type, and level of qualifications. Analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data revealed that both leaders and teachers believed that the three most important issues for K-2 leadership were demonstration of trust and support, commitment to improvement of teaching practices, and possession of high level skills in communication and interpersonal relationships. Leaders and teachers weed that managing time available to satisfy both teaching and leadership commitments was a key challenge for today's K-2 leader. Both teachers and leaders identified teams of teachers as providers of strong leadership influence. However, leaders' and teachers' views also differed. For example, teachers indicated that access to, and presence of, the principal in K-2 classrooms was a high leadership priority, whereas leaders strongly supported the use of shared leadership and collaborative processes within their leadership. Teachers also viewed the role of the leaders in much broader terms than the leaders themselves. Female leaders believed that they were energetic, had better relations with school personnel, and had a greater knowledge of K-2 education than did male leaders. Leaders in primary schools indicated that they believed they demonstrated greater respect for, and higher interpersonal skills with, K-2 teachers than did leaders in district high schools. Teachers confirmed this view. Leaders who had an early childhood specialisation were perceived by teachers to make more credible decisions and to have demonstrated greater levels of expertise and competence in relation to the technical core of K-2 education than those without this specialisation. Teachers with lower levels of qualifications perceived their leaders to be more collaborative and accessible than those colleagues who were more qualified. The implications of these, and other findings are detailed, and recommendations for further action are made. Implications include the need for: ‚Äö professional development opportunities to increase leaders' expertise in communication and interpersonal relationships, and teachers' knowledge of, and skills in, educational leadership practices; ‚Äö deciding where K-2 expertise is available both within and outside the school, especially in district high and small primary schools; ‚Äö leaders to resolve the dilemmas between central office demands that take them out of the school and the teachers' demands for them to have a presence in the school and be accessible, as well as fulfilling teaching and leadership responsibilities; ‚Äö greater celebration of achievements in the performance of leaders and K-2 teachers; and ‚Äö leaders to convince more K-2 teachers of the essential importance of professional learning communities involving shared leadership processes. Whilst the major importance of the study lies in its addition to the relatively small body of published knowledge concerning leadership in early childhood education, the results and implications suggest the need for further study in the area. Recommendations for further study include: ‚Äö the implications for leadership of the major change expected with the K-2 teaching force becoming younger and more highly qualified; ‚Äö the need for wider use of the questionnaires developed for the study to other districts in Tasmania and other states in Australia, with a greater number of male K-2 teachers and as a basis of data gathering for schoolbased professional development activities; and ‚Äö the need for a longitudinal, qualitative, in-depth case study of K-2 leaders and teachers in one school.


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Copyright 1999 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ed.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1999. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 367-371)

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