Volume 1, Issue 3, 2021

A Special Edition on the School Leader as Researcher 

turnerOur Guest Editor, Dr David Turner, Queensland Association of State School Principals.  QASSPQueensland Association of State School Principals 

The Journal's desire to stage this special edition comes from an understanding that while engagement in research from a practitioner perspective is commonplace in professions such as medicine and engineering, its application in education, particularly school leadership, is minimal at best. This lack of engagement is in our minds, a loss of potential and opportunity for sustainable evidence-based school improvement. So, in this special edition, School Leaders in Queensland, Australia, showcase their applied research work. In a showcase article by  David Turner and David Lynch, the concept of School Leader as Researcher is introduced as the foundations for what each article comes to represent in applied research. 



Reimagining Education in Queensland’s State Primary Schools A New Narrative 

Dr David Turner, Queensland Association of State School Principals (QASSP), Australia

A new story of primary schooling is needed. One where joy of learning is celebrated and each learner’s potential is unleashed. While there are some indications as to what this ‘new narrative’ of education might look like, the details are still emerging. This paper is intended to begin a conversation about how we might collectively reimagine schooling, so that we may encourage the creators and empathisers, pattern recognisers and meaning makers.  Pages 1 to 22.


Responding to a Growing Leadership Crisis

Trevor Buchanan, Principal, Bluewater State School, Queensland Australia

While there is a gradual global movement to more considered principal preparation programs, uncertainty in how best to identify these aspirant leaders remains. In this paper the author seeks to answer this question: What are the talent management processes that education systems use to attract teachers to the role of school principal, build their capacity to fulfil the role, and ultimately deploy them to where they are needed? This article therefore reflects upon some of the responses undertaken by education systems both in Australia and abroad. The intent is to contribute furtherto this pertinent discussion in Queensland, especially as our system begins the process of implementing the priorities of the Leadership Strategy 2020-2022. Page 23 to 26


Maximising Our Impact

Dr Emily Duthiea, Dr Matthew Tomkinsb, Bernadette Hannac, a,b Principal Research Officer, Education Improvement Branch, CDirector, Education Improvement Branch, Queensland Australia 

In 2019, the Education Improvement Branch of Education Queensland started undertaking school reviews to examine the role that regions play in supporting school improvement. In 2020, this brief was expanded across the stages of early childhood and schooling to strengthen the continuity and alignment of learning and wellbeing for children and young people.  By undertaking reviews, the Branch argues it has gained valuable insights into school practice across the state. In this case study the Authors share their findings and review insights so as to inform the field about how systemic school reviews help inform the improvement of schooling. Pages 27 to 32.


Age-Appropriate Pedagogies: The Key to Unlocking Great Results.  

Maree Frederiksen, Prep Teacher and Team Leader, Nundah State School, Queensland Australia

Over past decades a performativity culture has emerged in Queensland State Schools. In this paper, the author argues that the unintended consequence of this performativity culture has been the erosion of quality early years pedagogical practices that actually engage our youngest learners in the ‘what’. That is, the curriculum. Pages 33 to 36.


A Strength-Based Approach: Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students to Reach their Learning Potential

Dr Hind Hegazy, Head of Department, Solid Pathways, Queensland Australia

Solid Pathways – STEM is a statewide initiative that has the capacity to deliver online lessons to over 900 students each school term. It provides students in Years 4 to 6 the opportunity to engage in a rigorous STEM-focused academic curriculum through an online platform, as well as attend university experience days. The program draws on the Australian Curriculum’s General Capabilities of critical and creative thinking, and embedding the cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures. Students have the opportunity to build upon both their existing sense of cultural identity as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their self-efficacy as high achieving students. The program aims to raise students’ expectations of themselves as learners and enhance post- school aspirations to include tertiary pathways. In this paper the authors provide an insight into the initiative. Pages 37 to 41


The Promise of Technology: A Snapshot of Kallangur State School

Blair Tomlinson, Head of Technologies, Kallangur State School, Queensland Australia

This paper references Apple’s Eight Elements for Success (Apple Education, 2015). These elements are viewed by the author as the foundations for successfully creating schoolwide technology-rich learning environments. With these points in the mind the paper provides an insight into how the notion of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ can be innovated upon for student learning outcome effects. Pages 42 to 46.


The Impact and Legacy of NAPLAN on the Work of Australian School Leaders

Michael Ward, Principal, Crestmead State School, Queensland,  Australia

The introduction of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) by the Australian government in 2008 was heralded with policy rhetoric from leaders in government attesting to its diagnostic purposes, greater transparency, international comparability (with suggestions of declining standards) and improved capacity for parental choice. In this article the author explores this rhetoric by exploring the concept of datafication and its impacts on schools. Pages 47 to 53


Introducing the School Leader as Researcher Concept

Dr. David Turner, Queensland Association of State School Principals and Prof. David Lynch, Southern Cross University. Australia

This article introduces and explores an inter-play between school leadership and research practice in a context of school improvement. This work is timely because school leaders are under increasing pressure to continuously improve the performance of their schools (Barber & Mourshed, 2007; Lynch, Madden & Doe, 2015; Hattie, 2009, 2012). This paper argues that school leader research is a potent means through which the school leader can grow professionally, and is also empowered to engage more deeply, insightfully and effectively with the many variables which underpin and mediate their plans for school improvement. This concept has its genesis in a coupling of ‘practitioner research’ (Hilton & Hilton, 2017; Lynch & Sell, 2014; Robinson & Lai, 2006) with the day-to-day work of the school leader. Pages 54 to 61.

Invited Commentaries On Practitioner Applied Research 

Strengthening Connection to Environment: The Greenbank Way

Jeff Jones, Principal, Greenbank State School, Queensland Australia

In this paper, the author provides an account of an initiative that positioned the strengthening of a connection to the environment as a catalyst for teaching improvement. Using an understanding that pedagogy impacts the environment, leaders in Greenbank School formulated a plan to refocus their classroom curriculum approaches. Pages 62 to 64



Michael Hansena, Cathy Nixonb,aPrincipal, Cairns West State School, bDeputy Principal – Student Engagement, Cairns West State School, Queensland Australia.

The COVID-19 pandemic was acutely stressful for student’s their families and their teachers in a primary school with a high migrant population in Cairns, Australia. In this paper the authors describe how they strategised to support these families, many of whom had backgrounds that included complex intergenerational trauma, so their children continued to make learning gains at school. The authors report that their work provided an opportunity to increase capacity to connect with community and build strong and supportive relationships based on shared experience. Pages 65 to 68.



Pivoting Toward Cultural Transformation

Penny Couch, Principal, Woodcrest State College Primary School, Queensland Australia

In the business world, ‘pivot’ describes a purposeful shift in strategy or direction. In education, this is a regular undertaking – one assesses what is working and adjust the implementation strategy accordingly. The pace at which one implemented change prior to the pandemic however was different; factors including leadership style, experience, knowledge, readiness, and even willingness, could be taken into account. During 2020, we had no option but to respond. In this article an experienced school leader provides an account of how cultural transformation, in what can only be described as, challenging times. Pages 69 to 74.

Suggest Books To Read

Leading School Improvement: A focus on the work of the school leader (Oxford Global Press)

Ken Sell, David Lynch and Tina Doe, three accomplished and published experts in the field of education, bring together leading education researchers and school leaders to create a collection of chapters which focus on key aspects of effective school leadership. The book explores a model for whole of school improvement and examines key concepts such as; readiness for change, approaches to leadership, how to use data, parental engagement, as well as providing insights into aspects of schooling and teaching into the future. Find out more


The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen  (Harper Collins) 

The book clearly outlines many of the incentive traps that incumbent organizations can easily find themselves in, clearly outlining that large organizations don’t fail in innovation because they leaders would be stupid or the organization badly managed, it’s because of the exact opposite. It is the sound and rational management of these organizations that lead them to steer clear of innovation. While the book has received its fair share of criticism, it’s still a truly great primer for anyone looking to understand the issues that plague large organizations when it comes to innovation. Find out more


 School Leader as Researcher (Oxford Global Press)

Dr David Turner has recently released a book on SChool Leaders as Researchers. This book presents a model for involving school leaders in the research process and gives specific examples of how they are contributing to the generation of knowledge about their complex work. Its genesis is in the assertion that people who are undertaking such roles offer valuable insights and opportunities that should inform school leadership practice.  Find out more.