School Leadership Development Strategy

Overview of the School Leadership Development Strategy

School leaders play a vital role in providing every student in NSW public schools with a great education and the best start in life.

They have a significant impact on classroom results, guide teacher development, and lead engagement with their school community.

The School Leadership Development Strategy was released in December 2021. It outlines how the department, through the School Leadership Institute, will ensure school leaders can continue to lead their school communities with confidence and strong moral purpose.

This will help lift student achievement in every school.

The strategy invests in great leadership from early career teachers to experienced principals through:

  • A new Principal Leadership Framework (PLF) which provides resources for all current and aspiring principals to strengthen their leadership skills.
  • Our new Middle Leadership Development Program for assistant principals and head teachers – the leaders with a direct impact on student results.
  • A School Leadership Identification Framework (SLIF) which will help great teachers take the next step into leadership roles
  • The FASTstream program to identify and develop future school principals early in their careers.
  • Continuing the successful leadership induction and development programs already offered by the SLI.

Why do we need a new strategy?

The evidence shows that investing in leadership at all phases of a school leader’s career makes a significant difference to the quality of teaching, helping lift student results.

That’s why the School Success Model is focused on support for our leaders at all levels to ensure we are delivering on our commitment to lift school and student improvement.

This new strategy supports the goal of the School Success Model by helping ensure that ‘every student, every teacher, every leader and every school improves every year’.

The School Leadership Development Strategy builds on the success of the previous School Leadership Strategy, released in 2017. Since then:

  • The SLI has been established and now offers a range of leadership development programs.
  • The number of Director, Educational Leadership (DEL) positions has doubled.
  • Principals School Leadership (PSLs) and Principals Coach/Mentors (PCMs) are supporting newly appointed principals for their first two years.
  • Comprehensive induction programs for principals, deputy principals and middle leaders are in place.

Elements of the new strategy

A range of new offerings will be delivered by the SLI to build on the success of the former strategy and increase the level of support available to current and future leaders in our schools.

Identifying leaders

Investing in the early identification and development of teachers who demonstrate potential for formal leadership is an essential element of the School Leadership Development Strategy. This includes:

  • The FASTstream program, which will strengthen the way we identify the leadership capabilities of high potential staff early in their career, and attract them to suitable leadership roles, including a strong focus on rural and remote schools. It will support existing high performing teachers and new teaching graduates through an intensive leadership development experience. The first 50 participants begin in Term 1 2022
  • A new School Leadership Identification Framework (SLIF) which will help identify future school leaders and offer them one-to-one guidance and support through mentoring, career planning and tailored professional learning. It will be available in Term 2 2022

Supporting middle leaders

Middle leaders – assistant principals and head teachers – are the school leaders with a direct impact on classroom results. They will be further supported under this strategy through:

  • A new Middle Leadership Development Program tailored specifically to the needs and role of middle leaders, offered to up to 500 participants each year. The first cohort begins in Term 1 2022
  • A new Middle Leader Role Description to provide greater clarity around their responsibilities and requirements as middle leaders.


Current school principals, from early career to experienced, will have access to a world-class professional development tool through the new Principal Leadership Framework (PLF.)

The PLF is a resource to help principals develop and improve their leadership to have the greatest impact on student and teacher learning. It will include in-depth reading on key leadership focus areas, video resources, discussion guides and other tools to help current and aspiring school principals reflect on their leadership and set development goals.

It will be available to principals from Term 1 2022.

Research and resources

Under this strategy the SLI will continue to work with key educational researchers to commission formal research to support the ongoing development, and evaluation of our programs and frameworks.

The SLI will also continue to build a comprehensive suite of digital and written resources for leaders and aspiring leaders in our school.

And we will continue to develop system leadership by offering opportunities for experienced school leaders to collaborate and influence the learning of others by contributing to our key programs and initiatives.

Building on our success

The new strategy builds on the success of the SLI since it was established and commits the department to continuing our range of leadership development programs and resources already in place, including:

Next steps

  • The first cohort of the Middle Leadership Development Program will begin in Term 1 2022
  • The first 50 participants in FASTstream will start in Term 1 2022
  • The Principal Leadership Framework will be available for all current and aspiring school leaders in Term 1 2022
  • The School Leadership Identification Framework will be available to all schools in Term 2 2022
  • Further leadership development programs and resources are being developed and will be made available in 2022 and beyond.
  • This strategy will be evaluated in four years.

Download a copy of the School Leadership Development Strategy

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