Our Perspectives

The Centre for Educational Leadership Perspectives are opinion pieces that highlight current and topical educational leadership matters. Our professional experts write candidly about their views and offer a fresh perspective on today’s educational leadership challenges. Occasionally, other faculty members contribute.

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Publications

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 - 14:49

The Centre for Educatio…

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - 09:49

Yes – we will be here next year! Our name and branding may change, but our work will go on. In a recent letter to schools, Mark Barrow, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland informed principals that Team Solutions will no longer be offering centrally funded PLD. This announcement may have led to some of y…

Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 11:42

A few years down the track of Communities of Learning, many of us have certainly done some learning, and often it has been done the hard way; by our mistakes.  That is not an efficient way to learn but is sometimes inevitable when there is no clear and proven design to adhere to, and when the context of each Kāhui Ako is so different.  So, what…

Wednesday, August 8, 2018 - 09:16

Are you whirling around in an endless mess of ‘inquiry’ at CoL level or at school level or at both levels?  Do you struggle to get a coherent, clear annual plan that is useful for guiding action?

Last night I had the pleasure of being part of a panel discussing networking and inevitably, the nature of inquiry came up…

Monday, July 30, 2018 - 12:02

The research findings on effective PLD (Timperley, Wilson, Barrar, & Fung, 2007) have been out a long time, so one might reasonably expect that positive changes would have been made at the school level, but often, our observations do not support this assumption.

Thursday, July 12, 2018 - 00:00

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Viviane Robinson retired on Thursday 28 June. What a remarkable woman she is; a woman who has made a selfless gift of her energy and time to improving educational outcomes for students across the globe. Many New Zealand educators may not be aware that Viviane’s work is the platform for many educational leadership…

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 09:33

Middle and Senior Leaders

Initiatives in our schools take one of two tracks.  If they are planned well and led by understanding principals and leaders, they generally run well and, while there are surprises, we often get the results wanted and are reasonably happy with them. Many initiatives however are on the opposite e…

Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 00:00

The following piece written by our Aitken Fellow, Bill Hubbard, points to an important issue for all leaders: we all have trouble managing ourselves at times and if you cannot manage yourself you cannot hope to manage/lead others.  His piece outlines the rationale for adopting mindfulness as a practice to support your leadership role.  While onc…

Monday, February 26, 2018 - 09:58

In 2014 I wrote a Perspective entitled ‘Inquiry – A Much Abused Term’. It is disheartening to report that I think we have now gone to ‘Inquiry Abuse’ in a major way.  I often hear how individual teachers are doing ‘their inquiry’ or that they have to ‘do two or three inquiries a year’.  I also see teachers filling in a lot of paperwork that they…

Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 15:15

In an era of relentless educational change, it is somewhat counter-cultural, I suspect, to write a book with the title of ‘Reduce Change to Increase Improvement’.

My purpose in doing so, is to disrupt the assumption that change is always desirable, and to challenge educational leaders at all levels to think about why so much change a…

Thursday, September 21, 2017 - 11:46


Change is a constant and, at this time of year, everyone should be starting to think about what changes they need to make next year to get lifts in performance.  If you are the person leading change (whether as a principal, head teacher, HoF or lead teacher), you will almost inevitably experience resistance to it.  Below are some factors…

Thursday, August 24, 2017 - 10:38

As always there is more change on the education agenda.  Whilst Viviane Robinson’s new book is entitled, “Reduce Change to Increase Improvement” some change is necessary and most agree, it seems, that more is required in schools on digital technologies to meet the demands of our times.   Our Aitken Fellow, Bill Hubbard, writes about the leadersh…

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 - 09:26

Like all educational institutions, UACEL is constantly evolving to ensure relevance and competence in a rapidly changing education environment. This proactive approach has been recognised recently with the awarding of a new school leadership development contract in Australia which will see UACEL, in collaboration with an Australian partner, deli…

Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 11:21

A continuing downward trend in New Zealand PISA results was highlighted in The New Zealand Herald recently. John Hattie suggested streaming was a key element in sustaining these negative results.

The negative effects of streaming have long been known from research and are well documented. I do not think that changing that practice alone…

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 09:46

Here we go again – it is back to the madness of a million things going on.  It is hard to be a focused leader when there is so much to cope with.   So keep one thing in the forefront - The ultimate test of your leadership is the quality of your students’ outcomes.  If your results last year were not as good as you would have hoped for, or you re…

Thursday, August 11, 2016 - 14:03

A key strategy for every school should be maximising students’  ‘opportunities to learn’.  Increasing high-quality academic learning time is a very effective leadership behaviour (Scheerens & Bosker, 1997).  Much of the decision making about what is learnt, when, and how much, is made by school leaders.  Some of these decisions, while motiva…

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 10:08

The current push to organise New Zealand schools into communities of learners reflects a policy trend that has close counterparts in England, Canada and Australia. I recently participated in a web-based “Global Dialogue Event” organized by the UK Education Development Trust in which panellists debated the implications of such networks for “syste…

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 10:52

The craziness has started and it won’t stop until Xmas.  That busy-ness is one thing that will never change.  Instead, we have to change ourselves.  To be better leaders we have to be totally clear about what it is we are prioritising, because, unless we are clear, we just get overwhelmed with the never ending stream of emails, tasks, people and…

Saturday, August 1, 2015 - 23:44

Resourcing strategically is one of the most undervalued leadership behaviours, probably because it is not classed as ‘instructional leadership’ in that it is not directly related to the quality of teaching.  It is of course, indirectly related to the quality of teaching.  The directness or indirectness of the effects of leadership behav…

Friday, May 1, 2015 - 11:00

It is term two. Your school improvement (annual) plans are completed and have been handed into the Ministry.  But do your ‘plans’ really help you to focus?  Do you even refer to them?  I suspect for most people they still only serve as an artefact of compliance.

So do plans really help?  Should we care?  I argue that they do help and…

Sunday, March 1, 2015 - 10:58

I have just been asked to talk about ‘the next new thing’ in education to a group of educators.  My reply was that I’d be happy to talk about the topic but my perspective on this topic may not be what they expected.  In my view, ‘the next new thing’ is the problem we have in education; that is, there is always something new, but if you wait two…

Saturday, November 1, 2014 - 09:52

Having had a considerable amount of my career as a principal, it is with that role that I usually identify.  However, since being in this job as UACEL director, and having made many observations in secondary schools in particular, I have great sympathy with the plight of the middle leader.  In secondary schools these are the heads of departments…

Monday, September 1, 2014 - 09:50

I have a confession to make – while I absolutely believe that, to be effective, leaders need to inquire into the link between the teaching and the learning – I have some real reservations about what is sometimes carried out in the name of Inquiry. What I have seen quite often is that teachers are variously engaged in so-called ‘Inqu…

Sunday, June 1, 2014 - 09:47

Would you appoint a teacher to run a paper mill?  Or, an engineer to be your defence lawyer?  I think most would agree that those decisions would be a folly because neither the teacher nor the engineer is likely to have the requisite knowledge and skill base to do the jobs we are talking about here. 

Why is it then, so often in education…

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 09:41

We can make a prediction based on our research, our work in schools over the last three years, and the research of many others; schools that improve are more focused on their achievement problems and coherent in their approach to improvement than others.  

There are no silver bullets – particularly if you are looking for them in your pro…

Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - 09:35

John Key has just announced some sweeping changes in educational leadership positions in our schools.  Four new positions are to be created.  I will briefly comment on the two principal positions.

The 250 Executive Principal positions signal a major shift in New Zealand education; they create a layer between the school principal and…

Friday, November 1, 2013 - 09:24

This is the term that is busiest for schools. Instead of winding down, we wind up as we cope with end-of-year reporting and planning for the next year, as well as managing ‘business-as-usual’.  My recent work with principals and senior management highlighted the support that schools need in order to develop their strategic and annual plans.  Pla…