The expectation and the reality: The challenges for primary principals in leading learning
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/1393
Principals in New Zealand Primary Schools are aware of an increased emphasis on their role as educational leaders. The expectation is that they are leaders of learning, whilst also meeting the requirements of the day-to-day operational running of the school. This creates challenges for principals that were worthy of investigation. The research examined what is expected of primary principals as leaders of learning and who sets these expectations. This research also investigated why principals are challenged with the expectation that they lead learning. The study also considered how principals could be supported to overcome the challenges inherent in the expectation that they effectively lead learning. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research using the methods of documentary analysis and individual interviews. The information gathered from documents regarding the expectations of primary principals served as a backdrop and a point of reference for the findings from the interviews. Eight primary school principals from schools with rolls between 300-600 students were interviewed using a semi structured interview format. The literature review and the documentary research showed a complexity of terminology surrounding the leading of learning. The findings of the research revealed that the expectations prioritised by the principals in leading learning were the need for them to ensure professional development for themselves and staff and to ensure that strategic planning is informed by student assessment data. This aligned with the documents analysed and with recent research reviewed in the literature. Due to their vast workload and the duality of their role the principals believed that they did not devote as much time as they would wish to the specific facet of leading learning. Uncertainty and confusion emerged through the course of the interviews regarding the principals’ understanding of the term ‘leading learning’. The findings led to the recommendations that principals require greater support to meet the challenges presented by the duality of their role and in depth professional development to clarify the meaning of ‘leading learning’.