School leaders, particularly school principals, are helping to build a world-class education system and transforming Victoria into the Education State. They have direct and profound impacts on the lives of children and young people. They affect teachers, education support staff, parents and the broader community in which their school is located. Leadership can bring great reward but it also brings great responsibility — the responsibility for equipping students with the capabilities to succeed in work and life.

Ambitious Education State 10 year targets have been developed to focus efforts on the range of factors that allow students to develop and achieve their best, leading to equity and excellence for all. There are targets in 4 areas:

  • learning for life
  • happy, healthy and resilient kids
  • breaking the link between disadvantage and outcomes
  • pride and confidence in our schools

The Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) has been developed to dramatically increase the focus on student learning in schools. Using the latest research on student learning and global best practice, FISO helps schools to focus their efforts on key areas that are known to have the greatest impact on school improvement, to create better outcomes for all students.

In order to prepare children and young people for the world beyond school, principals must create and sustain the conditions where high quality teaching and learning can flourish. The challenge for the principal is to create a collaborative culture and collective responsibility for student achievement, engagement and wellbeing, a culture that values both student and adult learning. They must connect teachers to professional learning communities and wider school networks to encourage sharing of best practice and ultimately improve their professional practice by learning from each other. Effective principals must support the learning and development of all staff, foster creativity and curiosity in teachers, and help them to imagine new possibilities for teaching and learning and encourage and support innovation. They need to ensure that resources are allocated strategically by putting teaching and learning at the centre.

Principals are critical for improving school and system performance. However, their impact on student achievement is mediated through other people, and organisational factors such as classroom practices and school climate. Effective principals distribute leadership responsibilities to those around them. As a result, leadership teams and middle level leaders have an essential role to play in creating the professional communities that motivate school staff towards more effective performance and create educational experiences that reach and impact on all students.

The Department has the responsibility to protect and provide for the welfare and safety of students and staff and to maintain the security of resources and assets by requiring and maintaining high standards of professional behaviour and conduct from employees. In order to meet its responsibilities, the Department must be satisfied that only those who meet the highest standards of integrity and suitability are employed. In addition, the Secretary (or delegate) must be satisfied that the prospective employee is suitable for child-connected work.

Rigorous, transparent and well-defined selection processes are crucial for building and sustaining successful schools. Selecting the right candidates to leadership positions has a significant impact on effective school performance. Selection to a principal position is determined solely on the basis of merit assessed against the selection criteria for the position.

These guidelines bring together the key aspects of recruitment and other human resources policies and relevant legislation to assist school councils and principal selection panels in the selection of a principal of a Victorian government school.

Please refer to the Resources tab for the Principal Selection Panel Member Handbook.

Introduction for Principal Selection Guidelines

Reviewed 10 May 2020

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