Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit




EDLE605 Leading Educational Change , EDLE658 Leading Innovation

Unit rationale, description and aim

As educational systems and schools are challenged to focus on increasing excellence and equity for all students, teacher leadership is a critical lever for improving schools from the ground up. Educational leaders, regardless of their roles, are tasked with the need to understand the complex contexts in which improvement and innovation are initiated, as well as the emotional and relational nature of change, in addition to its technical aspects.

This unit is uniquely placed within the course to support the leadership development of its participants and engage them to critically develop and apply leadership knowledge and skills beyond their classroom that are still relevant to their career stage and school context. Participants in this unit will develop knowledge about current theories and practices of leading improvement, innovation and change in education. They will develop and apply skills in building a case for change by critically analysing complex issues in authentic school contexts. They will apply this knowledge and skills to their own school environments in planning to lead and participate in efforts to drive improvement, innovation, and change that result in improved outcomes of education for all students within their context. This unit focuses on examining and critically reflecting on leading improvement, innovation and change as core features of the educational landscape and central to the work of educational leaders today.

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 - Critically reflect on and challenge personal attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, privileges, prejudices and stereotypes and determine practical implications for teaching and engaging professionally with students, parents/carers, colleagues, and other members of communities (GA1, GA2, GA3; APST 1.3, 3.7, 7.1, 7.3, 7.4)

LO2 - Synthesise a sophisticated understanding of the role of government, the education system, societal expectations, and school philosophies or mission statements in promoting or preventing equity and excellence in schools (GA2, GA3, GA5, GA7)

LO3 - Critically analyse contemporary evidence, both theoretical and practical, of the application of educational leadership approaches seeking to create improvements in schooling (GA1, GA2, GA4)

LO4 - Critically evaluate complex challenges impacting schooling outcomes and potential solutions, extrapolating relevant theories and contemporary evidence, and implications for leadership practice (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6; APST 1.3, 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 6.1, 6.2)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

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 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

3.1 Set learning goals that provide achievable challenges for students of varying abilities and characteristics.

3.3 Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.4 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

3.5 Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.

3.7 Describe a broad range of strategies for involving parents/carers in the educative process.

6.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers in identifying professional learning needs.

6.2 Understand the relevant and appropriate sources of professional learning for teachers.

7.1 Understand and apply the key principles described in codes of ethics and conduct for the teaching profession.

7.3 Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.

7.4 Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.


Topics will include: 

  • Defining teacher leadership
  • Reflective professional practice; self-auditing, collegial engagement and mentoring to identify professional learning strengths and needs
  • The philosophical foundations of leadership and how values reflected in these approaches impact on personal and professional life in educational communities
  • Personal analysis and reflection on values, beliefs, motivations, and behaviours and the consequences of these for leadership in education, based on the Teach For Australia leadership continuum
  • Practical experiences of analysing ethical and moral dilemmas for individuals and the implications of these experiences for their future as leaders of educational communities
  • Leadership that makes a difference: Contemporary research and theories on leading teaching and learning
  • Theories, models and frameworks of innovation and change
  • The application of models, methods and approaches to leading improvement, innovation and change in educational settings.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategy is informed by two key principles. The first is that conceptual understanding of change leadership in education is best developed by studying multiple illustrations of best practice and deriving critical insights regarding the complexity surrounding and often inhibiting school improvement efforts, as well as key levers to effectively lead change. Thus, in this unit, participants will engage with, discuss, and distil key principles of change leadership in education from examining case studies and examples of real-world, school-based change leadership in a variety of educational contexts, focusing on schools and students impacted by educational disadvantage. The second principle channels Knowles’ andragogical principles arguing that adults learn best when they do so through experiential learning. Thus, workshops and directed learning will prioritise, alongside the reading of scholarly research, the exploration of school improvement opportunities in participants’ contexts, and the development of their proposal.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the teaching period. This includes direct teaching, reading and preparation of assessments.

The unit is hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS) site with resources and online links, announcements, and a discussion board to post questions and reflections that promote connection between content and educational experiences.

Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes to cater to the learning needs and preferences of a range of participants.

On Campus

Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.


Learning activities are delivered through a planned mix of online and in-person classes, which may include full-day sessions and/or placements, to enable interaction. Activities that require attendance will appear in a student’s timetable.

Online unscheduled

Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 

Online scheduled

All learning activities are held online, at scheduled times, and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

ACU Online 

In ACU Online mode, this unit is delivered asynchronously, fully online using an active, guided learning approach. Pre-service teachers are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions and receive regular and timely feedback on their learning. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy centres around the practical application of knowledge of leadership to a school context. The assessments are designed to align with and create an authentic space for the employment-based model of the course. Thus, participants in the unit will be able to draw from their extensive, sustained professional experience in their placement school to provide the basis for critical analysis of the complexities and challenges that underpin adaptive change in education, and as the context for them to develop and implement an appropriately scaled proposal to support school improvement efforts. The assessment tasks are designed to reflect the profile of the participants in the program, such that assessment task 2 does not assume positional leadership or large-scale change initiatives, but rather, provide an opportunity to demonstrate teacher leadership in a manner that is appropriate to the level of experience of the participant in the course, whilst still providing an opportunity to demonstrate that they have developed in-depth knowledge of key principles of educational leadership and change.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1 

Case study of a leadership challenge in your context.   

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

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA7

Assessment Task 2 

Develop, implement and evaluate a proposal to address the challenge specified in Assessment Task 1.

 Apply your knowledge of the theoretical, political and emotional dimensions of change and the research on educational leadership to create a small-scale proposal and plan to contribute leadership in your professional context that promotes positive educational change. 

The proposal and plan should include a rationale and case for change, a proposed approach to positively contribute towards the change, a critically reflection on the values, principles, practices and processes required of your leadership to effectively lead the change. The final part of the report will be an evaluation of the challenges and benefits of the project, including implications for longer term leadership development and activity.


LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6

Representative texts and references

Recommended references 

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

Branson, C. and Gross, S. (Eds.) (2014). Ethical Educational Leadership, New York; Routledge. 

Day, C. (2017). Teachers' worlds and work: understanding complexity, raising quality. London: Routledge.

Day, C., Sammons, P., Leithwood, K., Hopkins, D., Qing, G., Brown, E., & Ahtaridou, E. (2011). Successful school leadership: Linking with learning and achievement. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.

Eacott, S., & Evers, C. (Eds.). (2016). New directions in educational leadership theory. London: Routledge.

Fichtman, D.F., & Yendol-Silva, D. (2009). The reflective educator's guide to classroom research: Learning to teach and teaching to learn through practitioner inquiry (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press 

Frost, D. (Ed.) (2017). Empowering teachers as agents of change: a non-positional approach to teacher leadership: University of Cambridge Press. 

Hallinger, P. (2011). Leadership for learning: Lessons from 40 years of empirical research. Journal of Educational Administration 49(2), 125-142Malone, H. J. (2013). Leading educational change: Global issues, challenges and lessons on whole-system reform. New York: Teachers College Press.

Hattie, J. (2015). High impact leadership. Educational Leadership, 72(5), 36-40.

Leithwood, K., & Seashore Louis, K. (2012). Linking leadership to student learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

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