The complexity of pastoral care middle leadership in New Zealand secondary schools
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/1830
The aim of this research was to interpret from multiple perspectives the pastoral care middle leadership role in New Zealand secondary schools. It was based on the rationale that pastoral care middle leadership within New Zealand secondary schools is increasingly complex. Some shifts are happening for pastoral care middle leaders as they play more of a role in supporting student learning. The traditional pastoral care middle leader role of ‘disciplinarian’ has evolved into a more holistic role with a focus on improving student outcomes. However, these shifts have brought new challenges and a greater need for targeted professional development for pastoral care middle leaders. Research and literature on middle leadership in education has a tendency to default to the curriculum middle leader role in schools, which has left the pastoral care middle leader role largely unaccounted for. These are therefore critical times for pastoral care middle leaders. This qualitative research involved three interviews with three senior leaders and three focus groups with a total of eighteen pastoral care middle leaders. The findings highlighted the importance, challenges and professional development needs of pastoral care middle leaders. In a relatively new policy/curriculum environment, pastoral care middle leadership has become a multifaceted role, which is fundamentally supporting learning through maintaining a holistic, school-wide view in order to bridge the gap between pastoral care and academic issues for improved student outcomes. Due to increased pastoral demands and the shift to a more holistic school-wide view alongside existing silo subject departmental structures, the greatest challenges for pastoral care middle leaders are: people management issues; leadership dilemmas; work intensification; and, the under-resourcing of people and time. Provisions need to be made for intensive context-based training and targeted leadership and management development and training, both inductive and on-going, in order to meet the unique and increasingly complex demands of the secondary school pastoral care middle leader role.