Successful school Principals are those who accurately assess and then utilise the capabilities of colleagues who can perform roles that provide both practical and moral support in the change process. This requires a distributed, shared approach to power, authority and leadership. The most effective Principals are those who are able to define clear roles for middle leaders, including delegation of responsibility for promoting awareness and whole-school action to meet the needs of students with disability and additional learning needs. In doing so, the school benefits from a shared approach regarding all students, whilst the Principal and middle leaders will encounter new learning for themselves concerning students with disability and additional learning needs.
Middle leaders have assumed increased importance as the concept of ‘distributed leadership’ has come to be more widely understood and applied in schools. It has even been suggested that ‘middle leaders have a special role in connecting leadership with learning’ (Fluckiger, Lovett, Dempster, & Brown, 2015): this is of major importance in relation to the curriculum progress of students with disability and additional learning needs.
Both the Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers provide the template to develop a shared approach towards students with disability and additional learning needs, involving leaders with diverse roles and responsibilities in your school.
A focus on the leadership requirements specified in the Principals Standard provides a starting point for your reflection on the actions that might be taken to enable vision and values, knowledge and understanding, and personal qualities and social and interpersonal skills to become more visible in the daily operation of a school.
'We’re lucky enough to have a teacher four days a week here and their role is basically to look at the disability standards in education and also help teachers fulfil those. We make sure kids are included in all aspects, they go on excursions with kids with quite significant needs, especially physical needs, and we ensure we include them in all aspects including excursions, integrated into all classes and being part of all school activities’.