Unis Team Up in Leadership Training for Teachers

Universities of Wollongong (UoW) and Newcastle (UoN) team deliver groundbreaking leadership program in NSW public schools.

University researchers win government tender to deliver a first-of-its-kind professional learning program for school leaders.

The Schools of Education at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the University of Newcastle, have been selected by the NSW Department of Education to deliver a first-of-its-kind professional learning program for middle leaders in NSW public schools.

Researchers from UOW and the University of Newcastle will work with the NSW School Leadership Institute to co-design and deliver a world class program that is evidence-based, accessible across different geographical locations and will cater to the different needs of diverse schools and middle leaders.

UOW’s Dr Kylie Lipscombe, Academic Co-Lead of the program, says the tender was highly competitive.

We are privileged to work with the NSW Department of Education to codesign leadership development for up to 500 NSW public school middle leaders each year,” Dr Lipscombe said.

Partnerships between school systems and teacher educators at universities are such a powerful approach to working together on the moral purpose agenda of teacher and leadership support and development and ultimately improved student learning in schools.”

Such partnerships serve to build capacity at both university and school levels as researchers and practitioners learn from each other.”

University of Newcastle Associate Professor Jess Harris said the strength of the research collaboration was the broad expertise across both research teams. She looked forward to sharing their specific areas of expertise to build the knowledge base of school middle leaders,.

Middle leaders are usually teachers in positions of Assistant Principals and Heads of Curriculum.

Dr Lipscombe said middle leadership is a complex and increasingly important position in schools.

Our own research highlights how middle leaders are usually excellent teachers who lead school improvement by focussing on the most important part of the school – the classroom,” Dr Lipscombe said.

They face many challenges including increased workloads and managing areas such as the performance of staff, because they are literally leading from the middle, positioned between the principal and their teacher colleagues.

This dual relationship can prove very challenging.”

Associate Professor Harris said one of the key roles of middle leaders was to support teaching practice within their schools.

We will work with the Department to contribute the breadth of our research experience in leadership and improving teaching practice to support the work of middle leaders and enhance student learning across the state,” she said.

Researchers say the program will be designed to value the teaching profession and will seek to understand the current and future needs of middles leaders, while simultaneously using evidence-based cutting-edge research. The first program will commence in 2021.

The UOW researchers involved in the program are Dr Kylie Lipscombe, Professor Sue Bennett, Associate Professor Sharon Tindall-Ford, Associate Professor Jessica Mantei and Dr Kellie Buckley-Walker.

The University of Newcastle researchers involved in the program are Associate Professor Jess Harris, Laureate Professor Jenny Gore, Dr Andrew Miller and Mr Nathan Towney.