An examination of the issues facing first time subject leaders during their first year of appointment in New Zealand secondary schools

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Authors
Bennet, John
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Degree
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Grantor
Unitec Institute of Technology
Date
2008
Supervisors
Collins, Jennifer
Type
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Keyword
subject leaders
New Zealand secondary schools
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Citation
Bennet, J. (2008). An examination of the issues facing first time subject leaders during their first year of appointment in New Zealand secondary schools. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Abstract
This research examines the issues faced by first time subject leaders as they endeavour to come to terms with the nature of the subject leader’s roles. The subject leaders’ role has undergone change in recent times, and is becoming increasingly complex. The tensions inherent in the role, and the support and development that they receive are explored. A small scale qualitative study is used to examine the issues facing first time subject leaders in New Zealand secondary schools. Interviews with six first time subject leaders from two urban secondary schools in New Zealand provide in depth data. Questionnaires from senior leaders in each school together with supplied documentary evidence provide further evidence and enable triangulation to validate the findings. The findings of this research indicate that the role of subject leader has not been clearly defined in the participating schools. This lack of clarity has caused problems for first time subject leaders in understanding and developing for the role. At the same time the subject leaders experienced tensions between the new role and their teaching, and between the role of leader and being a colleague. A major issue for first time subject leaders was the lack of structured support and development for the role. Lack of role clarity, poor planning and unstructured support are seen as barriers to accessing development for the role. A lack of time internally to provide development opportunities and limited provision by external providers were also identified as issues for first time subject leaders. Conceptualising these findings in a theoretical model enables the underlying causes of the issues to be identified. This research indicates the need to provide greater clarity in the role definition of subject leader, and to ensure more, and more effective professional development opportunities for subject leaders.
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