Information for aspiring principals

The resources in this section focus on helping you to understand what is required from a school’s educational leader.

Preparing for principalship

One of the five recommendations in an Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership report (2015) on preparing aspiring school principals describes three broad stages of learning.

  • Instructional leadership: Developing deep and comprehensive pedagogical knowledge is foundational. It is something you can begin early, as it is compatible with a teaching role.
  • Higher-order and interpersonal skills: Developing skills such as strategic thinking, change leadership, and emotional and social intelligence, needs time. You should seek opportunities to do this before taking on the role of principal.
  • Management abilities: Developing management knowledge and skills is best undertaken just before taking on a principal role so you can immediately consolidate your learning through practice.

Read the AITSL report – recommendation 3

Download the full AITSL report 

Information on this website


Key leadership documents

Guides for managing your school

Educational leadership capability framework

Personal stories from new principals

Becoming a principal and making a difference        

Preparing for principalship     

Reflections from a first-time principal       

Further information

Pathways to school leadership – Education Review, April 2017

Interviews a principal, a senior leader and a middle leader on possible pathways to leadership.

The aspiring principal or vice-principal (PDF) – Ontario Ministry of Education

Presents five strategies teachers can use to prepare for a smooth and successful transition to a formal leadership role.

Leadership characteristics and Fullan's five principles – Australian School of Applied Management

Connects people's descriptions of meaningful leaders to Michael Fullan's principles of educational leadership for change.     

See Leadership programmes for information on Ministry of Education support for principals.