The Professional Development of Primary School Teachers with Leadership Responsibilities in a New Zealand Context
Middle and senior leaders in primary schools have an important role with significant accountability and responsibility. They are teaching practitioners who have a large influence on the quality of learning that takes place within a school. Middle and senior leaders carry out the majority of the significant conversations about teaching and learning within a school with the teachers they lead. In 2012 the New Zealand Ministry of Education produced a publication reiterating the importance of middle and senior leaders within schools. As part of that publication they identified the need for ongoing professional development and learning for middle and senior leaders to strengthen their effectiveness as leaders. However no suggestions were made in this document as to what this may look like. The purposes of this multiple case study were to explore what professional development and learning were provided to senior and middle leaders primary schools within the greater Wellington area, how effective the principals and senior middle leaders considered the professional development and learning to be, and to identify which factors enabled effective professional development and learning within a school. To answer the research questions data was collected through an online survey, focus groups and individual interviews. The findings indicated that there were two categories of organisation of professional development and learning provided within different schools; unsystematic and systematic. The more effective systematic system involved the identification of the learning needs of the middle and senior leaders through discussion or co-construction of their job descriptions, leading to a mixture of professional development and learning structures that combined sharing, collaboration and reflection to enhance leadership capabilities. In addition regular mentoring allowed for more effective leadership learning. An important factor determining the success of the professional development and learning was the deliberate actions that were carried out by the principal.