System Leadership in Action: a case study

System leadership in NSW public education is characterised by a shared commitment to foster collaborative networks within and across the system to generate improvement.


To understand the impact of a principal facilitator across NSW public education within the context of system leadership, the School Leadership Institute (SLI) conducted a case study analysis of facilitators from Cohorts 1, 2 and 3 of the Senior Leadership -Aspiring Principals Leadership Program (formerly the Aspiring Principals Leadership Program).

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 principal facilitators who supported aspiring school leaders throughout their 18-month engagement with the program.

Key themes

The resulting research paper focuses on principals as system leaders. It connects research about system leadership with 5 key themes that emerged from case studies of principals describing the impact on their leadership as principal facilitators in the program:

  • Theme 1: desire to engage in a formal system leadership role to support the leadership. development of aspiring leaders
  • Theme 2: impact of the Principal Facilitator role on their own leadership learning
  • Theme 3: impact of the Principal Facilitators’ learning on their colleagues in their own context
  • Theme 4: reflections on the Leadership for Learning Frameworks
  • Theme 5: development of professional networks.

Principal facilitators attended all program leadership seminars, specific training and meetings, and engaged with members of the leadership team both individually and as a group between formal seminars.

Download the System Leadership in Action case study report

Further reading

Visit the SLI's Leadership Resources pages (available to staff only) to find out more about the leadership development programs we offer for current and aspiring leaders in NSW public schools.

More information

For more information, contact the School Leadership Institute at


  • Teaching and learning


  • Principals and school leaders
  • School Leadership Institute
  • Teaching and learning
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