Anne Anderson

Date of Submission



This study has emerged from an international interest and movement towards school improvement. The process of school improvement concerns itself with the concepts of change and accountability within school systems as well as the impact of leadership within these processes. The purpose of this study is to explore the influence of leadership on school improvement in Catholic secondary schools. Specifically, it addresses how leadership was seen to influence both school improvement and the understandings of leadership of people involved in school improvement within Catholic secondary schools in Sydney. The research asked the question: How does leadership influence school improvement? It explored an understanding of the views, experiences and perspectives of teachers, middle managers and executive regarding the influence of leadership practices on school improvement within secondary schools. With this aim in mind the epistemological framework of constructionism was adopted using the theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism and case study methodology. The case study approach was chosen as it allowed an understanding of the phenomenon of leadership experienced by the participants within school improvement. Multiple data collection methods of survey, semi-structured interviews and documents analysis were employed to allow the researcher to look into and detail the complex and multifaceted interactions of the teachers, middle managers and executive to gain an understanding of how these participants experienced leadership and how it impacted on their role, responsibilities, and sense of ownership of school improvement. This research has shown that certain elements of leadership play a vital role in influencing change for school improvement. A proposed model for school improvement was found that focuses on seven elements of leadership that influence school improvement: establishing a core team to lead the process, identifying a clear vision and strategic direction, priority given to shared leadership which is enhanced by a collaborative approach, commitment and alignment of values, developing a strong learning culture that focuses on continual improvement and support through reflection and evaluation of improvement processes. These elements, when combined, provide a fertile environment in which principals and teachers can take collective responsibility for change to improve schools. Further it recognises that leadership between principals and teachers needs to be shared as both have roles and expertise that can influence change for school improvement.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


349 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Faculty of Education and Arts