Dr Paul Kidson is Senior Lecturer in Educational Leadership at the Australian Catholic University. His diverse educational career includes teaching in multicultural schools in Sydney’s western suburbs, socio-educationally advantaged metropolitan schools, 11 years’ as a school principal, and as an academic since 2017. His teaching and research explores how school leaders work within, and critically transform, their complex professional lives. This encompasses broader systems and policies that govern their work and school communities, as well as how they develop and sustain their personal leadership story.

His research complements 11 years’ experience as a school principal; this practical leadership experience is, likewise, a prism through which to conduct and view educational leadership research from a practitioner’s perspective.

“A Common Good for the Commonwealth”

Equity, in tandem with excellence, is the first of our national educational goals, but evidence nationally and internationally shows we are going backwards. We highlight poor alignment between goals and current system frameworks and policies; and provide clear examples of how this slippage has occurred. We note that educational inequity has developed, concurrent to increasing top-down performance and accountability pressures upon schools, Principals, teachers, and students. This has created a climate in which more is asked of these component units and players, while comparatively little attention has been paid to larger system frameworks.

We suggest orienting educational leadership to promote whole-system accountability, through deeper evaluation and analysis of system structures and alignments. Rather than tinker around the edges, we propose large scale system reform built on genuine partnership with the profession, meaningful system accountability, and a new commitment to collective educational purpose.