The distinct role of principals

Research has shown that ‘powerful school leadership on the part of the principal has a positive effect on student achievement’ (Dufour and Marzano, 2011).

In Victoria’s highly devolved education system, principals are expected to lead improvements in teaching quality and performance. Principals lead the capability development of teachers and education support class employees through modelling ongoing, evidence-based reflection on performance and professional learning through implementing and participating in effective performance and development processes.

Evidence shows that school leaders in high-achieving schools participate more actively in teacher learning and development than leaders in low-achieving schools (Robinson, 2009).

The role of the principal is crucial in forging a professional and collaborative school culture that provides a rich variety of professional learning and development opportunities in order to raise teacher quality, increase motivation and maximise the potential of staff (Day and Sammons, 2013).

Schools share a professional commitment to continuous, evidence-based improvement in teaching and learning to improve outcomes for all students. Principals play a key leadership role in this improvement and should:

  • create a positive culture of challenge and support to enable effective teaching
  • set high expectations for the whole school through collaborative planning, monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of teaching and learning and its impact on student outcomes
  • encourage the creation of professional learning communities and networks focused on continuous improvement of teaching and learning
  • establish systematic methods for collecting and interpreting evidence to identify excellent teaching, and share successful strategies with the school community
  • model collaborative leadership and engage with other schools to share and improve practice and encourage innovation in the education system

Campus and assistant principals

Campus and assistant principals play significant leadership roles in their schools. Principals, campus and assistant principals work collaboratively with their broader leadership team and school community to develop and implement the school’s Annual Implementation Plan (AIP). They may focus on different aspects or share the same school improvement focus in their respective Performance and Development Plans (PDPs). The professional learning aspect of the plans will differ based on individual areas of responsibility and professional learning needs.

The distinct role of principals for Performance and Development for Principal Class Employees

Reviewed 05 February 2024

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