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New Zealand principals: Autonomy at a Cost

Wylie, C., Burgon, J., & Cosslett, G

This article appeared in A Decade of Research on School Principals. Cases from 24 countries 


New Zealand’s public schools have an unusual degree of self-management. Each school has its own parent-elected board of trustees, responsible for the employment of the principal and school performance. Schools operate within national legislation, following the New Zealand Curriculum, but they operate on their own, without ongoing support from, or participation in, a school district. School leaders enjoy autonomy, and yet they also see the need for better connections between schools and across the system, and they find their own career pathways limited.

Since this self-managing school model was introduced in 1989, it has become increasingly evident that it makes it harder to tackle long-standing educational issues, such as the need to improve educational outcomes for our Māori and Pasifika populations. School leadership of change in teaching and learning to improve outcomes is increasingly emphasised in national policy as a result of these issues and research showing the leadership dimensions that are pivotal in improving student outcomes. This is raising questions about national support for leadership development, ongoing support for leaders and how school leaders can be better connected.

You can find this journal article in A Decade of Research on School Principals. Cases from 24 countries on the Springer website here.

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