I have seen first-hand that middle leaders are highly experienced educators, often promoted to their role because of their high-quality teaching skills, expertise and experience.

Middle leaders play a pivotal role in supporting quality teaching practices and improved learning outcomes. As a former principal, I know how critical the contribution of the collective leadership team makes to the effectiveness of the school.

Middle leaders are often at the forefront of change, taking the initiative to drive positive developments within the school and supporting the capability development of colleagues through professional learning.

Middle leaders exercise various skills and competencies, such as leading teaching and learning; collaborating and communicating with the school community; and managing and facilitating work within schools. They are often seen as a conduit between senior leaders and teaching staff on various matters. Their expertise and experience play an important role in leading teaching and learning and they are highly regarded by their peers.

In October, AITSL began a partnership with the Queensland Department of Education to develop and trial professional standards for middle leaders in a new 18-month project. The standards will align with the Australian Professional Standard for Principals and form a developmental bridge from the leadership identified in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. All our key stakeholders will be consulted during the development of this important resource, ensuring input is obtained from all education systems and sectors across Australia.

Our latest Spotlight, Middle leadership in Australian schools, highlights that there is no shared definition of middle leadership in Australia and that it is currently difficult to compare middle leaders across different jurisdictions, sectors, and settings.

The Spotlight identified the importance of supporting middle leaders to maximise their impact within their school by providing opportunities for professional learning and development. The Spotlight found that the most effective professional learning for middle leaders is highly structured and relevant to their role. This report outlines several professional learning programs offered by various jurisdictions and professional bodies for middle leaders.

Expectations of Australian schools are high, and the role of middle leaders is increasingly recognised as a contributing factor to school success. It’s important that we have integrated middle leadership resources that support the development and expertise of this important cohort of leaders.

I believe that aspiring and existing middle leaders, principals, and school communities will all benefit from our latest Spotlight. I encourage everyone to visit the Lead and Develop section on the AITSL website to learn more about building leadership and implementing professional growth strategies and look forward to providing you with more information about our professional standards for middle leaders work as the project develops.