New path to leadership

Aspiring principals are being given on-the-job training as part of a new Master’s programme at Victoria.

The unique Master of Secondary School Leadership (MSSL) programme, co-taught by the Faculty of Education and Victoria Business School, gives practical experience to help prepare those in senior roles at secondary schools for the next step in their career.

Head of Victoria’s School of Education, Dr Kate Thornton, says the MSSL originated from an approach by a group of Auckland secondary school principals who felt they weren’t receiving enough applications from high-calibre staff for senior leadership positions.

“The goal is to give experienced teachers with leadership responsibilities the skills and knowledge to lead large secondary schools in ways that lead to raised student achievement.”

Combining the research and teaching strengths of the Faculty of Education and Victoria Business School with the expertise and input of experienced secondary principals, the programme is run in block courses during school holidays and weekends. Participants take part in four, five-day placements during term time and are mentored byan experienced school principal.

Although current MSSL student Dr Karen Dobric, deputy principal at Auckland’s Papatoetoe High School, laughs off suggestions that her current principal should be worried about his job, she does hope to become a secondary school principal within the next five years.

“This programme has shown me that I can make a contribution at an upper level, and has given me a different type of confidence.”

Dr Dobric spent a week at Waitakere College being mentored by its principal, Mark Shanahan, who also valued being part of the programme.

“It allowed me to reflect on what I do every day in my role, and to demonstrate what a principal really does,” says Mark.