New Zealand Secondary School Principals’ Perceptions of their Role: A Limiting Form of Contingency Leadership
Guided by the theoretical underpinnings of constructivism, this study set out to gain a realistic understanding of the role of the secondary principal as it is currently performed in New Zealand. In so doing, it sought to identify factors, within the current system of school self-management in New Zealand that have impacted on that role. The study adopted a mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis. The leadership perceptions of 94 secondary school principals in New Zealand were used, as well as a detailed analysis of the leadership interactions and actions of five of those principals. Data were gathered using survey, reflective journals, and semi-structured interviews of the participants. Data analysis comprised both quantitative methods and case study analysis. The findings of the study indicate that, because of the nature of the system of self-managing schools in New Zealand, secondary principals lack leadership independence and are prevented from fully focusing on the learning needs of students. The findings also indicate that rather than being educational leaders, the prime role of a secondary principal is to manage the interface between the school context and powerful external expectations of an effective school. In so doing, this study identifies the negative impact of a self-managing school system on educational leadership. Consequently, the findings from this study highlight the need for a change in the educational environment in New Zealand to one in which school and school leadership effectiveness is determined by the capacity of the school and the principal to meet the learning needs of the students and their community.
Advisor: Smith, Jeffery; Notman, Ross
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Education
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; secondary school; principalship; role; self-management
Research Type: Thesis