Middle leaders’ decision making about staff development in New Zealand secondary schools

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Golding, Vincenza
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Bassett, Martin
Cardno, Carol
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
middle managers
secondary schools
middle level leaders
middle managers
senior leaders
professional development
organisational change
Golding, V. (2017). Middle leaders’ decision making about staff development in New Zealand secondary schools (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4686
RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What are the expectations of middle leaders in developing staff in secondary schools? 2. How do middle leaders and teachers make decisions about staff development? 3. What are the staff development challenges for middle leaders and how can their practices be improved? ABSTRACT: The role and responsibilities of middle leaders in New Zealand secondary schools have evolved over the last two decades. One additional responsibility for middle leaders is professionally developing their teaching staff. Traditionally, this has been the role of principals, however, middle leaders have been delegated this responsibility due to the expansion of demands placed upon principals in secondary schools. Middle leaders have responsibility for the organisation of their departments, as well as a significant teaching load. Therefore, the addition of extra responsibility to professionally develop staff has significantly impacted on their workload. Whilst literature exists which examines the role and responsibilities of middle leaders, there is very little literature about the specific role of middle leaders in developing their team. This study examined the role middle leaders play in the professional development of their teaching staff. An interpretive approach was adopted for this qualitative study. The study involved the use of two research methods. The first method employed was semi-structured interviews which was used to attain the viewpoint from the middle leaders’ perspective. The second method, focus group interviews were undertaken to attain the viewpoint from the teachers’ perspective. The findings of this study highlight that professional learning and development is an essential aspect within schools to improve practice, knowledge, and capability within the classroom. However, senior leaders often made assumptions on the most appropriate school wide professional development needs for their teachers. Middle leaders lacked confidence to make professional learning decisions for staff and were often challenged with the idea of responsibility and accountability for professional development of staff. This research recommends that that principals, senior leaders and teachers develop a common understanding of how professional development is implemented. In addition, it is vital that senior school leaders support their middle leaders in implementing professional development within their teaching teams.
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