Welcome to the Curriculum & Leadership Journal website.
To receive our fortnightly Email Alert,
please click on the blue menu item below.
Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
Follow us on twitter

Building leadership capacity in schools: the Leaders Lead project

Jeremy Hurley
Leaders Lead National Coordinator

Principals Australia (formerly APAPDC), owned by the four peak principals’ associations, aims to support principals, their associations and other school leaders to build leadership capacity in schools. To this end, Principals Australia has developed three major resources: the L5 Frame, the Learn:Lead:Succeed publication, and the L5 at Work online leadership learning resource. These resources provide school leaders with a robust conceptual framework, as well as content and processes for building their own leadership capacity and that of their staff members and school community.

The L5 Frame

In 2003 the APAPDC set itself the task of creating a tool that would support school principals in building leadership in their schools. The L5 was developed by a taskforce of practitioners, academics and consultants: Patrick Duignan, Louise Bywaters, Jenny Lewis, Kathy Lacey, Tom Croker, Don Zoellner, Susan Boucher and Jeremy Hurley.

The result of this work was five propositions, now known as the L5 Frame, that describe, in broad terms, the nature, scope and work of school leadership:
•    Leadership starts from within.
•    Leadership is about influencing others.
•    Leadership develops a rich learning environment.
•    Leadership builds professionalism and management capability.
•    Leadership inspires leadership actions and aspirations in others.

Many school leaders in Australia are now familiar with, and use, the L5. It frames their leadership and is a robust tool to interrogate and cultivate leadership in their settings. It can function at any level, for any purpose, and in any context; providing a flexible and practical strategic resource. The five propositions, like chapter headings, scaffold the story of leadership.

As the propositions are expanded they become more contextual and values-based. For example it is suggested, based on research, that for Australian school leaders the phrase ‘Leadership starts from within’ means beliefs, values, integrity, knowledge, vision, responsibility, commitment, courage, resilience and humour.

The propositions can also be easily used for self-reflection. ‘Leadership starts from within’ can be expanded into statements as follows:
•    I articulate my beliefs and values and how they underpin my work.
•    I articulate what I want to achieve for students, staff and schools.
•    I know, understand and respect the school community.
•    I demonstrate courage in taking responsibility for achieving this vision.
•    I take time to critically reflect on myself and my work.
•    As a result of this reflection, I take action to look after myself.
•    I demonstrate optimism and integrity in challenging times.

Australian school leaders are invited to use the L5 Frame as a starting point for further developments in leadership learning, development and practice.


Learn:Lead:Succeed (updated in November 2007) aims to empower executive and other school leaders to take charge of developing their own and their schools’ leadership capacity. Using the five propositions as section headings, it combines theory and practice in a range of individual and group processes and activities that can be easily facilitated, built on and adapted to suit various situations.

Learn:Lead:Succeed is being used by and with individuals and teams at all levels in schools, including board members, school support personnel and students. Its significant strength is in enabling people who were previously unwilling or unable to see themselves as leaders to step into leadership. It also provides school communities with a shared and easily understood language around leadership.

By using the strategies, activities and processes within the package, the principal, along with aspiring and developing leaders, can work to tailor a suitable program based on the needs of the individuals involved. Individuals and groups may also use this resource to guide their own leadership journey where there is a need for a more self-managing approach. Its purpose is also to raise issues and provide broad strategies for employers and education systems in addressing the challenges of leadership succession and capacity building.

Principals' associations and education policy-makers can use this resource to identify current thinking and practice in leadership development and capacity building and may find it a useful tool and supportive resource in raising awareness. It could be used to support strategic directions, influence decision-making and budget allocations for further professional development and to inform research directions.

Learn:Lead:Succeed has now been adapted as one of 15 modules that make up the recently launched online resource, L5 at Work.

L5 at Work – leadership learning online

In response to a great demand for an accessible leadership development program, the L5 Frame has now been used to structure the online resource L5 at Work. The L5 at Work website, a comprehensive and cohesive resource for structured and 'just-in-time' leadership learning, provides access to 15 online modules for leadership learning and development.

Written by experienced practitioners, the modules are grounded in good practice and based on research. In each module, the five propositions have been used to interrogate what it means to lead schools in particular contexts and for particular purposes. The modules provide current and aspiring executive and teacher leaders with a comprehensive and cohesive resource for ‘just-in-time’ learning.

The modules cover the wellbeing of school leaders, understanding and developing leadership, and leading all aspects of schools. Titles include Staying strong in leadership, Leading dynamic schools, Leading learning and teaching, Leading resource management, Leading professionals to improve practice and Leading data-guided schools. The 15 modules will be expanded, and regularly updated in response to feedback, new research and resources.

The modules consist of web pages and downloadable activities. Both aspects are essential to the learning. These individual activities have also been compiled into downloadable workbooks. They provide a rich resource for a school leader to use either alone or in professional learning with other staff, colleagues and community members. A comprehensive reference list offers learners the opportunity for extended research. 

Two years in the making, the modules have been referenced against worldwide theoretical frameworks, leadership curricula and pedagogies. Ongoing practitioner feedback has been used to ensure that the learning activities stimulate deep thinking about relevant theories and their practical application.

L5 at Work is the ideal resource for individual, collaborative and collegial learning. Jurisdictional professional learning status and Masters-level university accreditation for the modules are currently being negotiated.

For more information about Principals Australia’s leadership resources go to www.leaderslead.edu.au, email leaders@pa.edu.au or phone 08 8245 9843.


Subject Headings

School principals
School leadership
Educational planning