Pedagogical leadership is a new initiative which aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning in Alternative Education (AE). The Ministry of Education introduced funding for pedagogical leadership at the beginning of 2011. The objectives of this funding were to ensure that the provision of AE had:

  • tutors with cultural competence in working with diverse students
  • programmes that address the identity, language and cultural needs of Māori students
  • quality curriculum planning and assessment
  • strategies to build engaging learning activities
  • suitable self-review processes.[1]

AE is provided across New Zealand by a range of school-based and off-site programmes. It is intended for students aged 13-16 years, who have been alienated from mainstream education. In most cases Private Training Organisations are contracted to provide AE programmes. Students are placed in AE programmes by their schools with the aim that they will, at some later date, go back to mainstream education, training or employment.[2]

The tutors in AE programmes come from a range of backgrounds. While some tutors are registered teachers, many others have a background in youth or community work. ERO’s 2010 report on Good Practice in Alternative Education identified that while many tutors responded well to the individual pastoral and academic needs of students, their knowledge of curriculum planning and assessment limited the extent to which they could develop innovative, relevant and effective learning contexts. There were also challenges for tutors analysing and using achievement data and building the links between the AE education programme and the career aspirations (and exit transitions) of AE students.

ERO’s 2010 report used the catch-all phrase ‘pedagogical leadership’ to collect up these different teaching and learning challenges in AE. The phrase pedagogical leadership was subsequently adopted by the Ministry and used as a focus for additional AE funding from 2011 onwards.

In 2012, the Ministry asked ERO to evaluate the pedagogical leadership initiative in AE. The focus for this evaluation was on examining the work of ten clusters of providers. Evidence collected by the Ministry suggested that these clusters had developed effective pedagogical leadership practices. The aim of ERO’s evaluation was to identify a set of principles that could provide guidance to the AE sector about good practice in pedagogical leadership.

In developing these principles, ERO has recognised that pedagogical leadership is managed differently by each AE cluster. For example, how pedagogical leadership is structured can depend on a cluster’s context, including the level of involvement from the managing school and the nature of the working relationship between the AE coordinator and the AE providers.

The principles identified by ERO have been divided into two groups. Organisational principles represent a set of guidelines about the appointment and management of staff in pedagogical leadership roles. The second set of principles – implementation principles - outline the key features of pedagogical leadership leading to improved student outcomes. The organisational and implementation principles identified by ERO are summarised under the following seven headings:

The organisational principles:

  • Managing schools have a responsibility to support pedagogical leadership
  • Managing schools and AE providers need to work in partnership on the organisation and purpose of pedagogical leadership
  • Pedagogical leadership needs a high status in AE.

The implementation principles:

  • Pedagogical leadership staff need to have credibility and expertise
  • Pedagogical leadership must be ethical, creative, strategic and focused on improvement
  • Pedagogical leadership needs to use effective professional learning and development processes
  • Pedagogical leadership should be part of an effective set of networks.

These principles reflect ERO’s observation of how pedagogical leadership has developed to date. Future evaluation and research efforts could develop these principles further.

The findings section of this report discusses the key features of these principles and the detailed indicators, which sit under each of these headings. The overall ‘principle framework’ is summarised in Appendix 2.

As part of this evaluation ERO also identified a range of challenges that existed to pedagogical leadership. These challenges are discussed within each of the sections detailing the principles of pedagogical leadership.