Changing roles of heads of department : a Queensland case

Rosenfeld, Peter, Ehrich, Lisa C., & Cranston, Neil (2009) Changing roles of heads of department : a Queensland case. In Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, 30 November-4 December 2008, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.

View at publisher


There is little doubt that devolution of responsibility to schools and the growth of school-based management have impacted upon the role and workload of school leaders. Not only Principals have been affected by these changes as Welch (1996) argues that Principals of public secondary schools have passed responsibility down to Deputy-principals and to Heads of Department. As such, the Head of Department role, like other school administration positions, has undergone significant change. Of interest to this paper is the changing role of Heads of Department in secondary schools.

This study reports on the findings of semi-structured interviews with eight Heads of Department from four public secondary schools and Principals from each of these schools in South East Queensland. Four years after the first set of interviews, two heads of department were reinterviewed. Both sets of interviews focused upon the role, change, and the importance of leadership.

The research generated eight specific themes each of which was considered consistent with the nature of the role in a period of significant cultural change. These were the difference in perceptions regarding the Head of Department role, held by Principals and Heads of Department; Head of Department leadership in terms of a curriculum framed department or whole school leadership; how individuals perceived leadership, and how they learned of leadership; the impact of the changing culture upon the individual Head of Department; the growing influence of situational factors upon the role; the impact of managerialism; the changing nature of a secondary school department; and a growing and more complex workload, and the need for different skills. Furthermore, the findings pointed towards the need for effective change processes and a reconceptualized head of department role. The paper concludes with some implications for the ongoing professional development needs of Heads of Department.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

295 since deposited on 25 Mar 2009
24 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 19129
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 25 Mar 2009 05:54
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2013 08:18

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page