Open Access

Middle-level leaders as direct instructional leaders in New Zealand schools: A study of role expectations and performance confidence


The literature on instructional leadership consistently assigns this role to school principals whilst indicating that it can be spread amongst others. Recently the spotlight has moved to middle leadership involving a focus on classrooms through direct instructional leadership. The purpose of this study was to add to a small but growing body of literature that centres on middle-level leadership in schools. The research aims were to conceptualise the nature of the direct form of instructional leadership that has been devolved to the middle leadership level; investigate perceptions of expectations held of middle leaders in schools; and investigate their perceived confidence in performing the role. An on-line survey of 185 primary and secondary school middle-level leaders confirmed strong agreement with the role expectations described in terms of a conceptual framework of direct instructional leadership. The results indicated that whilst overall confidence in performing these tasks was high, gaps existed between role expectations and performance confidence, with the function of “having difficult conversations” being the largest gap for both primary and secondary school middle-level leaders.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Education, other