Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Arts, Nursing & Theology

First Advisor

Dr Peter J Morey

Second Advisor

Dr Peter Beamish


130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership


Educational research literature indicates that minimal time is spent planning for future school leadership, but unplanned school leadership succession can have significant repercussions on school improvement initiatives. The role and expectations of school leaders, and the school principal in particular, have been increasing in intensity and complexity, causing many to question why they should continue in their roles, and reducing the number of potential applicants who aspire to such positions. This lack of school leadership aspiration is exacerbated by the increasing number of retirements experienced both nationally and globally in educational leadership. The overwhelming majority of educational leadership succession research is explored from a systemic viewpoint, focusing on the administrators’ involvement in the process. To add to the educational succession literature, this study will add the teacher’s voice, which remains essentially unexplored. It draws on the experience and perceptions of employees within the faith-based Adventist Schools Australia (ASA) education system at three different hierarchical levels: classroom teachers, school-based administrators, and system-based administrators. This study made use of both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Particular emphasis was given to exploring the perceptions of drivers and barriers to aspire to ASA school leadership positions, and the perceptions of current and ideal succession practices within ASA. Very low levels of active aspirants existed amongst ASA employees, indicating future risks to ASA leadership sustainability exist. Even though hierarchical level perceptions differed in magnitude, results indicated that a perceived lack of work-life balance was the predominant barrier to applying for school leadership positions, while ‘calling’ and the opportunity to positively contribute to the school and community were the predominant drivers in the decision to apply for school leadership positions. All hierarchical levels perceived that current succession practices need improving but had different emphases for this improvement. For the classroom teachers, their ideal succession model would be a formalised and communicated model, for the school-based administrators it would include input from all hierarchical levels, while the system-based administrators saw the ideal as a consistent and nationally implemented succession model. These results indicate ASA can improve current succession practices, and in doing so, ensure educational system sustainability by involving all hierarchical levels in succession practice design and development, and importantly younger generation classroom teachers, which will assist in the attraction, development and retention of high-quality future educational leaders.


Used by permission: the author.

Staff and Students of Avondale College may access a print copy of this thesis from Avondale College Library (SC Theses 371.2 W67)

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