Educational leadership practices survey report

by Cathy Wylie and Edith Hogden


This NZCER report provides a picture of the leadership practices demonstrated by principals in the Experienced Principals Development Programme (EPDP) in 2009-2010.

The report brings together the survey responses of teachers to nine leadership areas, one being principal leadership, that were identified by the Educational Leadership Best Evidence Synthesis and the Kiwi Leadership for Principals (KLP) document. The teachers completed the survey – the Educational Leadership Practices (ELP) survey –  over three months.

Teachers from 282 schools participated. The high level of response mean that the authors of the report believe that the findings are “pretty robust”.

The researchers identify secondary schools and low-decile schools, given their complexity, as ones that can particularly benefit from professional learning support around improved leadership practices. Though in every school there are always leadership practices that can be improved.

Reflective questions

These questions may guide you as you read the summary or full report:

  • The three areas in which the experienced principals in the programme were rated as highly effective are: goal setting, providing a safe and orderly environment, and principal leadership. However weaknesses were also identified in each area. In goal setting some principals could further develop skills in seeing the goals through into action. In provision of a safe and orderly environment some principals could further develop skills in gathering their students’ voices and views on this. In professional leadership some principals could further develop skills in identifying and resolving conflicts more quickly. Consider these responses with your leadership team. Do they have any relevance for you?
  • The report makes the point that experience in itself is not an indicator of effective school leadership. Ongoing professional learning and development is necessary for all principals and every stage of their leadership careers. With a mentor consider your short- and long-term professional leadership learning needs. How will you access ways to address these needs?
  • There is a correlation between high ratings of principal leadership and the levels of school leadership, or distributed leadership, as a whole (see bottom of p.6 of the report). About half of the teachers who responded indicated that they had leadership roles beyond their own classrooms. What professional learning programmes are you promoting and participating in to ensure that your staff have opportunities for leadership learning that will improve their effectiveness as school leaders?
  • Scores for each of the nine identified areas of effective principal leadership are provided in the report (from p. 8 onwards). With your leadership team examine those that apply most to your school, and look at the component parts and how as a group you could develop your leadership practices more effectively.


Wylie, C., and Hodgen, E., (2010). Educational Leadership Practices Survey: baseline 2009 overall profile of schools in the Experienced Principals’ Development programme. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education. New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Wellington.

A second report describes the patterns of shifts in principal and school ratings on the scales that make up the Educational Leadership Practices (ELP) survey, from the start of principals’ participation in the Experienced Principals’ Development (EPD) programme in September to November 2009, to near its end, in November–December 2010.

Wylie, C., Brewerton, M.,and Hodgen, E., (2011). Shifts in Educational Leadership Practices Survey Patterns in the Experienced Principals’ Development Programme 2009–10. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education. New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Wellington.

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