Date of Submission



When a critical incident engulfs a school community, principals have key management roles in the incident and aftermath, as well as responsibility for successful outcomes, particularly for the wellbeing of staff, students and parents. Principals are also the conduit for communication and liaison with outside agencies, while ensuring the school still functions as an educational institution. In the past three decades in particular, researchers have considered the incidences of violence and environmental disasters in school settings and their impact on students, teachers and counsellors (Brack, Hill & Brack, 2009; Lindle, 2008). Education systems have produced policies, and researchers have written manuals, to guide schools in the management of critical incidents (Diocese of Wagga Wagga, 2009; Lerner, Lindell & Volpe, 2006). In all these approaches, the principal is identified as the key driver of all that occurs in preparation for, management of and response to a critical incident in a school. Although principals’ roles in a critical incident appear well defined, how they experience the incident and how it impacts on them is not widely considered nor understood. This study explores a hitherto relatively unexplored facet of principalship by asking the question: What is the experience of principals as they lead their schools during and after a critical incident?...


School of Educational Leadership

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


245 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Faculty of Education