School Leadership

Direction and guidance on the development and roles of school leaders and the NSW Public School Leadership and Management Credential.

Changes since previous version

2022 Oct 17 - updated policy statement to include link to new role description for assistant principals and head teachers. Added new implementation document, Middle Leader Role Description.

Document history

2022 Aug 23 - updated links in policy statement.

2021 Oct 11 - update to implementation document: NSW Public School Leadership and Management Credentials Guidelines - Incorporated FAQs into the main document, updated terminology for elective professional learning in section 3, and reworded section 5.2. Moved from Professional Learning policy to School Leadership policy (previously published under PD-2004-0017-02).

2021 Jun 29 - Policy name changed from Leading and Managing the School to School Leadership; policy statement revised to comply with policy library template (previous policy content was a statement of key accountabilities for principals in the effective educational leadership and management of NSW public schools). Previous policy content was reviewed and put into an implementation document 'Principal role description'. A second implementation document also added 'Deputy principal role description'.

2020 Sep - updated contact details only.

2020 Jun - updated contact details and made minor style and editing changes.

Superseded documents


  1. Policy statement
    1. Excellence in school leadership is fundamental to maximising the achievement of student outcomes. The department is committed to enabling and supporting the development of leadership skills at all career stages.
    2. The department, through the School Leadership Institute, enables school leaders to influence and impact positively on the learning of teachers and students in our public schools.
    3. Participation in the department's leadership programs and initiatives has a positive impact on leading, developing and evaluating the quality of teaching, learning and wellbeing of our students, teachers and leaders so that student learning outcomes can continually improve.
    4. Leadership development opportunities at all career levels develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and capabilities that leaders need to facilitate continuous school improvement.
    5. The department provides equity of access, inclusive and appropriate leadership programs and initiatives, contextualised to the needs and diversity of schools in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote settings.
    6. The role descriptions of principals, deputy principals, and middle leader (assistant principals and head teachers) are detailed below:
      1. Principal role description
      2. Deputy principal role description
      3. Middle leader (assistant principal and head teacher) role description
    7. Newly appointed, first time principals benefit from developing skills, knowledge and understanding in order to lead and manage their schools effectively. Prior to being appointed, first time principals must attain the NSW Public School Leadership and Management Credential.
  2. Audience and applicability
    1. This policy applies to all staff in NSW public schools who are aspiring, relieving or hold a substantive school leadership position. School leadership positions are identified as:
      • principal
      • deputy principal
      • assistant principal
      • head teacher.
  3. Context
    1. The NSW Public School Leadership and Management Credential forms an important element of the School Leadership Strategy. The credential assists school leaders to know and understand their accountabilities in regard to departmental policies, processes and procedures.
    2. Role descriptions must be read in conjunction with the Teaching Service Act 1980 (NSW).
    3. School leader knowledge, understanding, skills and capabilities are encapsulated and reported through the School Excellence Framework as articulated in the School Excellence policy.
  4. Responsibilities and delegations
    1. Principals in substantive or relieving positions know, understand and demonstrate the key accountabilities and expectations of their role as detailed in the principal role description.
    2. Aspiring principals complete the NSW Public School Leadership and Management Credentials prior to applying for a substantive principal position within the department.
    3. Deputy principals, assistant principals and head teachers in substantive or relieving positions know, understand and demonstrate the key accountabilities and expectations of their role as detailed in the applicable role description.
    4. The School Leadership Institute:
      1. conducts educational research that will provide a strong foundation for the development of School Leadership Institute programs to support best practice and meet the needs of leaders within the NSW public education system
      2. provides evidence-informed, future-focused leadership development programs and initiatives to make the difference we seek in public education
      3. develops programs to ensure responsiveness to the needs of the profession aligned with the School Leadership Institute School Leadership Development Continuum
      4. consults and aligns programs informed by evidence from international experts and representatives of key stakeholder groups
      5. designs and delivers leadership preparation, induction and orientation programs to long term relieving and first time principals, deputy principals, head teachers and assistant principals for their leadership role within the department
      6. supports the implementation of the Principal Leadership Framework, which will enhance the professional growth of principals by articulating a language that describes leadership actions and behaviours that have a positive impact on teacher and student learning.
  5. Monitoring and review
    1. The Director, School Leadership Institute monitors the implementation of this policy, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy and updates it as needed.
  6. Contact
    Director, School Leadership Institute
    0436 918 441

Return to top of page Back to top