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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Successful School Leadership: An Australian Perspective

David Gurr, Dr Lawrence Drysdale.

The International Successful School Leadership Project (ISSLP) is a unique four year ‘multi-perspective’ research project which is designed to identify the qualities, characteristics and competencies of successful school leadership in primary and secondary schools in different socio-economic circumstances in seven participating countries – Australia, Canada, Hong Kong (China), Denmark, England, Sweden, and the USA – and to determine whether there are a set of generic core qualities, characteristics and competencies which can be identified.

The research has been inspired by the work of Day, Harris, Hadfield, Tolley and Beresford (2000) who investigated successful headteachers in 12 schools in the United Kingdom. It is being conducted in five phases over four years. First, the literature search, which is concurrent with the design of a common interview protocol. This is followed by phase two in which the country case studies are conducted, analysed according to an agreed analytical framework, and provisional comparative data produced. Based upon the findings, a survey of headteachers/principals in each country will be designed and implemented. This will be phase three. Phase four will consist of in-depth observational case studies of schools. The final phase will consist of writing and digital case studies.

This session will report upon phase two findings from Victoria, Australia. Results from government primary, special and secondary schools and Catholic primary schools are included in this presentation. A typical case study included data collected from:
- documents illustrating school achievements and student attainments;
- individual interviews with the principal (3 interviews), assistant principal, curriculum coordinator, six other teachers, school board chairperson, and a school board parent member;
- group interviews with parents (2 groups of 8-10) and students (2 groups of 8-10).


David Gurr

Dr David Gurr is a lecturer in Educational Administration at the University of Melbourne. He has current research interests in school leadership, school accountability, and the application of management information systems to schools and school systems. He has completed major research on school leadership, school charters, and principal perceptions of the Schools of the Future reform. Part of David’s current work involves the coordination of a team of verifiers involved in the Victorian school review process.

Prior to working at the University he worked as a research officer for the Department of Education, prior to this he held a range of teaching and administration positions in secondary schools including faculty and year level coordination. David has worked for three years as a student counsellor, has been registered as a Psychologist in the State of Victoria and is a member of the Australian Psychological Society. He is a member of the committee of the Victorian branch of the Australian Council of Educational Administration and serves as the chair of the publications committee for ACEA nationally. He is the editor of the ACEA publications Hot Topics and Leading and Managing.

Dr Lawrence Drysdale  (Australia)
Senior Lecturer
Centre for Organisational Learning and Leadership
Univeristy of Melbourne

Lawrie Drysdale is a senior lecturer in Educational Administration in the Education Faculty at the University of Melbourne. He lectures in organisational behaviour, leadership, human resource management and marketing in education. His research focus is marketing in education and school leadership. Part of Lawrie’s work is conducting school reviews with the Education Departments in Victoria. Currently he is a director on the board of the Australian Principals Centre. He also conducts consultancies and workshop for both local and overseas educational groups

  • Leadership
  • Successful schools
  • School performance
  • School Improvement

(Virtual Presentation, English)