Middle leading in Australian schools: professional standards, positions, and professional development
In Australia, there is a national education agenda for school improvement with an increasing focus on how school leaders can fulfil this agenda. As school principals are arguably faced with increasing demands, the importance of school middle leaders is increasing. This article presents the initial findings from a larger project on middle leadership in Australian schools, the first phase of which is a documentary analysis of significant texts including policy documents, websites and reports. The purpose of the document analysis was to examine expectations placed on, and support provided for, school middle leaders in Australian schools to make explicit the potential implications for policymakers, leaders and researchers investigating this field. We argue there is a lack of clarity about the role of middle leadership across Australia, with unclear policies, and variations in expectations, titles and levels of support. What is evident is that middle leaders play a pivotal role as they lead teaching, learning, and pastoral care. They carry out these roles in subject areas, key stages and classrooms, and among teachers. While there are a range of professional development provisions for middle leaders across different states, middle leadership needs to be an area of increased focus across Australia.