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EDLE605 Leading Educational Change , EDLL606 Leading Change in Education

Unit rationale, description and aim

In current times of exponential change, uncertainty and unpredictability, the role of education and leadership has become increasingly important. This requires educational leaders to understand the political, social and educational contexts in which improvement and innovation are initiated, as well as the emotional nature of change.

In this unit students will examine and critically reflect on leading improvement, innovation and change as core features of the educational landscape and central to the work of educational leaders today. Educational systems and schools are challenged to focus on improving outcomes for all students within a globalised and rapidly changing world.

The aim of this unit is to support students to further build on their knowledge about current theories and practices of leading improvement, innovation and change in education, and skills in analysing and building a case for change. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Review key theories and models of innovation and change, and the research on the leadership of educational change and improvement (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST (Lead) 1.2, 6.3)

LO2 - Critically examine the values, principles, practices and processes of leadership required to effectively lead improvement, innovation and change that impact on teaching and learning (GA3, GA4, GA5; APST (Lead) 1.3, 2.1, 3.6; APSP 3)

LO3 - Prepare a comprehensive proposal for change to improve teaching and learning in response to an identified critical challenge (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST (Lead) 1.3, 2.1, 6.3, 7.3; APSP 3, 5)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

1.2 - Understand how students learn

Lead processes to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching programs using research and workplace knowledge about how students learn

1.3 - Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds

Evaluate and revise school learning and teaching programs, using expert and community knowledge and experience, to meet the needs of students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds

2.1 - Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

Lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies, and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.

3.6 - Evaluate and improve teaching programs

Conduct regular reviews of teaching and learning programs using multiple sources of evidence including student assessment data, curriculum documents, teaching practices and feedback from parents/carers, students and colleagues

6.3 - Engage with colleagues and improve practice

Implement professional dialogue within the school or professional learning network(s) that is informed by feedback, analysis of current research and practice to improve the educational outcomes of students

7.3 - Engage with the parents/carers

Identify, initiate and build on opportunities that engage parents/carers in both the progress of their children and the educational priorities of the school


In addition to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers this unit addresses the Professional Practices:

APSP 3 - Leading Improvement, Innovation and Change

Principals work with others to produce and implement clear, evidence-based improvement plans and policies for the development of the school and its facilities. They recognise that a crucial part of the role is to lead and manage innovation and change to ensure the vision and strategic plan is put into action across the school and that its goals and intentions are realised.

APSP 5 - Engaging and Working with the Community

Principals embrace inclusion and help build a culture of high expectations that takes account of the richness and diversity of the wider school community and the education systems and sectors. They develop and maintain positive partnerships with students, families and carers and all those associated with the wider school community. They create an ethos of respect taking account of the spiritual, moral, social and physical health and wellbeing of students. They promote sound lifelong learning from preschool through to adult life. They recognise the multicultural nature of Australia’s people. They foster understanding and reconciliation with Indigenous cultures. They recognise and use the rich and diverse linguistic and cultural resources in the school community. They recognise and support the needs of students, families and carers from communities facing complex challenges.


Topics will include:

  • Leadership of educational change, innovation and improvement: Theories, research, frameworks and practices
  • Introduction to the leadership of improvement, innovation and change in educational settings: The impact of external and internal forces on educational settings, education systems and schools
  • Theories, models and frameworks of innovation and change
  • System and organisational complexity
  • Leading change through creativity and innovation: Values, principles, practices and processes
  • Responding to change and diversity: political and emotional dimensions, values and principles
  • The application of models, methods and approaches to leading improvement, innovation and change in educational settings

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit may be offered in online, on campus or in multimode, for the equivalence of 150 hours of study.

The unit will be delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials, audio/visual resources and various online activities during the teaching period. Lectures introduce critical concepts in change and innovation theories and process. Critical conversations with teaching staff and other students promote learning through a theory-to-practice approach that will be responsive and relevant to the diversity of participants’ current knowledge and ongoing contextual experiences with a key component being the reflexive link between theoretical knowledge and practice. Critical evaluation of contemporary online tools and resources (blogs, podcasts, social media) assists students to challenge pre-conceived notions of educational innovation and change and gain exposure to alternative perspectives generated by collaborators in their learning processes within the unit. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate achievement of each of the learning outcomes. In addition, the tasks represent an opportunity to align with the particular needs of students and their professional contexts.

The assessment strategy used allows students to demonstrate their knowledge related to perspectives on wellbeing in a creative and practical manner. In order to pass this unit, students are required to successfully complete all assessment tasks regardless of their mode of enrolment.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Theories of Change

Critical essay examining a range of innovation rationales, processes, and impacts in educational environments.


LO1, LO2

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2

With reference to theories and models of innovation and change, and the research into leadership of educational change and improvement, critically analyse an educational improvement and/or innovation initiative from your professional context.

Critically examine and reflect on the values, principles, practices and processes of the leadership required to lead the educational change and the impact on practice within this case study.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 3: Proposal for change

Identify a critical challenge within your professional context in which you could exercise leadership of educational improvement, innovation and change to improve teaching and learning.

Prepare a comprehensive proposal and plan for the change. The proposal and plan should include a rationale and case for change, a proposed approach to leading the change, and a considered and strategic plan to implement and evaluate the impact and sustainability of the proposed change.

Critically reflect on the values, principles, practices and processes required of your leadership to effectively lead the change.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Barber, M., Rodriguez, N., & Artis, E. (2016). Deliverology in Practice: How educational leaders are improving student outcomes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Branson, C. (2010). Leading educational change wisely. Rotterdam: Sense Publishing.

Branson, C.M., & Marra, M. (2020). An ecological approach to school reviews: Going beyond verification and accountability to achieve real school improvement. La Salle Academy Publications, 4, 1-16

Fullan, M., & Quinn, J. (2016). Coherence. The right drivers in action for schools, districts and systems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Haugue, T. E., Norenes, S. O., & Vedøy, G. (2014). School leadership and educational change: Tools and practices in shared school leadership development. Journal of Educational Change, 15 (4), 357-376.

Kotter, J. (2012). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Malone, H. J. (2013). Leading educational change: Global issues, challenges and lessons on whole-system reform. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Robinson, V. (2017). Reduce change to increase improvement. Corwin.

Uhl-Bien, M., & Arena, M. (2018). Leadership for organizational adaptability: A theoretical synthesis and integrative framework. The Leadership Quarterly, 29, 89–104.

Wagner, T., & Kegan, R. (2006). Change leadership: A practical guide to transforming our schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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