Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (2.58 MB)

Voices at the top: developing a picture of leadership in Australian English language teaching

Download (2.58 MB)
posted on 2022-10-12, 02:01 authored by Barbara Elizabeth Craig

Good leadership makes a positive difference to student outcomes, the work environment, and to organisational health (Gahan et al., 2016; Leithwood & Massey, 2010; Robinson, Lloyd, & Rowe, 2008). However, in the context of English Language Teaching (ELT) there is very little research to give us insights into the elements which contribute to good leadership and to guide us in how best to develop good leaders. This qualitative study contributes to the small pool of existing knowledge by building an understanding of some key ingredients of good ELT leadership in Australia, and by exploring effective leadership development strategies. 

Semi-structured interviews were held with nine current and past Australian ELT leaders from a range of contexts across a wide geographical base, and the transcripts analysed for key themes. The study found that, technical expertise in ELT pedagogy, contextual intelligence, and engagement with external communities, particularly sector associations, were important elements of good leadership in this context. 

It also found that some participants had well-constructed leadership learning journeys, but that this was not universal, and that other participants experienced inadequate support and developmental input. Drawing on insights from these varied experiences and from leadership development literature, this thesis, therefore, proposes that leaders benefit from coherent, individualised development pathways which encompass: support and guidance from their manager, mentors and peer networks; rich, contextualised opportunities to convert theory into practice; and supported self-development. It draws attention to how leaders, managers and the ELT sector can work together to develop both individual and collective leadership along pathways which are underpinned by theories of adult learning, and which allow for learning to occur over time. 

In addition to contributing to current theories of ELT leadership, this study also proposes a practical, evidence-based guideline which offers strategies and activities to help individuals, managers, and the sector in the development of ELT leaders. 


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: introduction -- Chapter 2: literature review -- Chapter 3: methodology -- Chapter 4: findings -- Chapter 5: discussion -- Chapter 6: implications and conclusion -- References -- Appendices


Presented for the degree of Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Phil Chappell

Additional Supervisor 1

Lynda Yates


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




75 pages

Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses


    Ref. manager