Kaya Consulting

Improving outcomes for students starts with a high performing school executive team: the forgotten factor in wellbeing.

Improving outcomes for students starts with a high performing school executive team: the forgotten factor in wellbeing.

As the expectations placed on Australia’s schools grow, so do the pressures on teachers and school leadership groups. It’s creating a downward spiral of growing frustration that’s causing teachers to burn out, which, in turn, is placing even more pressure on teachers and school leadership groups. The good news is, there’s a way to break the circuit and improve the wellbeing of teachers, as well as educational outcomes for students. But we need to learn a lesson from business.

The myth of the 21st century learner
For some time, our focus in the education sector has been on nurturing engaged students. The concept is sound: if you have students who are fully engaged, they’ll achieve better results.

However, there’s something missing from the equation: teachers and, specifically, school leadership groups – principals, deputy principals and heads of department.

Research from Gallup tells us that if you want engaged and effective students, you need engaged and effective teachers. And if you want engaged and effective teachers, you need engaged and effective teaching leadership groups. And if you want engaged and effective leadership groups, you need to nurture leadership capability (skills, knowledge, experience) and capacity (time and energy).

What can education learn from business?
The concepts of leadership development and team effectiveness have long been ingrained in the collective psyche of business and industry. And with good reason.

Our experience at Kaya shows that by developing the capability, capacity and energy of leadership groups, any organisation can transform the wellbeing and effectiveness of leaders – as a group and as individuals – as well as business performance. Here’s just one example of our model in action.


“Team meetings are far more productive, now that we have shared processes and rules of engagement.”


As organisational psychologists, we’ve developed a proven leadership development model that focuses on the people and processes that matter most in any organisation. We enable leaders to think clearly about the nature of their work, the nature of leadership and the nature of the people in their team (including themselves), and thereby transform the performance of entire organisations.

“But schools are different,” we hear you say. “What works in the commercial sector won’t necessarily work in the education sector.”

We beg to differ. Again, experience shows us that our model has an equally remarkable transformational effect in any industry, including the education sector.


“We now have a more coordinated response to dealing with staff and parent issues.”


In any industry, leaders face the same strategic and operational challenges around nurturing an effective culture, operating efficiently, improving communication and building trust. Education is no different.

For ‘team members’ read ‘teachers and students’.

For ‘business performance’ read ‘staff and student outcomes’.

What else have we learned?
At Kaya, we have directors who are intimately acquainted with the education sector and have over 20 years’ experience as teachers, school leaders and as external supports.

We know that research has demonstrated a very direct link between the effectiveness of school leadership and the quality of student outcomes.

We know that, traditionally, schools have focused on instructional leadership. And we know that, while this is necessary, there is an increasing need to focus on the people management aspect of running a school.


“Now there’s more focus on the things that matter within the school and at our team meetings.”


We know that school leadership teams often struggle, spending excessive time and effort managing day-to-day issues and reacting to problems, rather than being able to focus on the big picture and leading schools forward.

We know that school leadership groups face unique challenges in managing students, parents and teachers (who are often highly experienced and hold entrenched views on how things should be).

And we know that the pressures of school leadership often result in a high attrition rate, which places more strain on already overburdened leadership groups.


“We feel a greater sense of calm.”


How can we help you and your school?
Schools generally approach us for help in one of three situations:

  1. The leadership group isn’t functioning properly and it’s affecting students.
  2. The leadership group and school are operating effectively, but they want to do even better.
  3. The leadership group is in the initial stages of formation.

Whatever the situation, our leadership team development program for schools provides you with the time and practical advice and tools you need to assess and improve the wellbeing and effectiveness of your leadership group.

It isn’t about improving teachers’ pedagogical skills. It’s about harnessing the potential in your people by building leadership capability and creating the capacity to work more efficiently, collaboratively and effectively.


“We have a coach for us, designing a process that meets our needs.”


It’s about tailoring a series of group coaching, individual coaching and assessment sessions to switch the emphasis from fighting fires, to planning for the future.

It’s about moving away from duplicating effort in favour of a more collegial culture and joined-up way of thinking and working together.


“There’s an improved sense of wellbeing – we’re able to cope better, things feel like they’re more under control.”


And it’s about improving academic and educational outcomes for students by improving the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of school leaders and teachers.

Find out more about organisational psychology and the value our leadership development model can bring to your leadership group and school. Contact our education sector specialists to discuss the issues, challenges and opportunities you face – call +61 (0) 8 9429 8844 or email stephen@thekayagroup.com.

Drawing on his post graduate research background, Stephen Macdonald develops and delivers a range of leadership enhancement, work performance, team effectiveness, workplace wellbeing and organisational alignment solutions across an equally diverse range of industries. In addition to a strong focus on effective leadership and management practices, with an emphasis on improving the alignment of organisational culture, team effectiveness and the enhancement of employee mental health and wellbeing, he has a specialist interest in the public, not-for-profit and education sectors.