“Succession planning and leadership ought to be two sides of the same coin.

So, why do many organisations manage them as if they had nothing to do with each other?”

The establishment of the ‘Rural and Remote Education Leadership – A Pipeline Approach’ initiative stems from Country Education Partnership’s determination to develop a specific program that links the building of quality education leaders with an ongoing sustainable, approach to education leadership succession across rural and remote communities. This has been identified as a real challenge in rural and remote education communities across the country.


Education sectors (at a regional and diocese level) are finding it difficult to attract quality principals and education leaders to rural and remote education communities.

A number of key contributing factors include:

  • the decreasing number of educators applying for rural and remote principal and assistant principal positions;
  • the increasing management tasks required of principals and education leaders;
  • the complexity of an education leadership role within rural and remote communities often having to combine administration tasks with a teaching load, as well as high community involvement expectations;
  • decreasing populations across many rural and remote communities meaning small student enrolments generally resulting in education settings unable to establish a middle leadership structure which is often the pathway to principalship;
  • the professional and personal isolation that is often associated with a rural education leadership role;
  • their role being critical in establishing community confidence within education – often being the only professional leadership role within these communities, and not necessarily having the skills to undertake this broader community leadership role;
  • the lack of education leadership programs currently available that are focused on supporting rural and remote education leaders; aspirant education leaders; and teaching and learning leaders.
  • In addition, discussions with education leaders across rural and remote communities, along with findings detailed within Australian and Overseas research, highlight the very diverse and expanded nature of educational leadership required within these communities.

The initiative has been developed based on:

  • the experiences CEP has had in relation to the provision of education leadership programs in several rural and remote education settings in Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales;
  • research highlighting the key areas identified as critical in the development and sustainability of quality rural and remote education leaders;
  • the lack of quality education leadership programs specifically tailored for rural and remote education leaders;
  • learnings from other education jurisdictions that have developed an ‘Education Pipeline Leadership’ approach. For example, The Wallace Foundation in the US.Defined by Dimworth in 2011, the Pipeline Leadership approach:

“strengthens the leadership function of an organisation (or system) by cultivating emerging talent while enhancing organisational capability.”

Country Education Partnership sees the Pipeline Leadership initiative as a key strategy to the ongoing recruitment and retention of high quality education leaders at an individual education setting, cluster and systemic (eg region or diocese) level.

Our Vision

CEP believes this initiative has the potential to provide an education system (based on regions or diocese) and their individual education settings with a sustainable supply of quality education leaders (at all levels) to meet the ongoing challenges faced by rural and remote education communities to provide quality learning.

Specifically, the ‘Rural and Remote Education Leadership – A Pipeline Approach’ initiative will work with education systems at a diocese or regional level, will focus on incumbent principals, aspiring education leaders, teaching and learning leaders, outstanding classroom educators and regional/diocese support personnel through the provision of a high quality education leadership pipeline program that has a clear focus on enhancing and improving teaching and learning within rural and remote education settings.

It will be facilitated by a team of high quality professional learning facilitators who have extensive experience in the development and provision of education leadership programs, involvement at an education system level and had experience in the provision of education within rural and remote communities.

It is proposed the initiative will operate over two years and encompass:

  • Year 1: participants involved in a range of face-to-face forums and workshops; individual and peer coaching; “thought workshops” facilitated by internationally recognized education leaders; online forums and discussions.
  • In addition, participants will work within small collaborative leadership teams to develop an action research project focused on improving teaching and learning within their education contexts.
  • Year 2: participants will be involved in the implementation of their collaborative action research project in partnership with ‘system support personnel’ from regions/diocese, ongoing coaching support, and online forums and discussions.

The ‘Rural and Remote Education Leadership – A Pipeline Approach’ initiative also aims to forge a partnership with Teacher Education Universities who offer post graduate programs; hence, allowing participants to gain credits for the learnings undertaken within the program. Assessment tasks would reflect the requirements of the Teacher Education University course requirements.