Dimension: instructional and shared leadership

This dimension is part of the Professional Leadership priority.


  • Principals are responsible for developing a culture of quality teaching, learning and student achievement.
  • Effective leaders are identified by their competence in planning, coordination and evaluating teaching and the curriculum.
  • They are actively involved in discussions with teachers about instructional matters, including how instruction impacts on student achievement.
  • They work with teachers to review and enhance teaching and are directly involved in coordinating the curriculum across year levels.
  • They ensure that student progress is systematically monitored and that teachers use assessment results to inform and direct their teaching.
  • Importantly, leaders understand their role is to lead student learning and they will self-manage to ensure they are prioritising student outcomes.
  • Effective leaders recognise the importance of distributed leadership as a collaborative effort undertaken between people who trust and respect each other's contributions.
  • Principals empower a group of leaders to build their leadership capacity as they change roles over time depending on school and student needs.
  • Effective leaders actively distribute leadership across an increased number of people in an organisation in order to build capacity within a school through the development of enhanced pedagogical practices.
  • Leadership becomes a collaborative endeavour involving teachers and students.

Essential Elements

A number of elements are essential to enable effective work within the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes. Eight Essential Elements form the foundation upon which improvement is built. The Essential Elements for Instructional and shared leadership are:

Essential Element 1: Documented curriculum plan, assessment and shared pedagogical approaches.

Essential Element 2: School-based professional learning program developed and implemented that supports the school's identified improvement strategies.

Essential Element 4: Student voice, leadership and agency in own learning activated so students have positive school experiences and can act as partners in school improvement.

Essential Element 7: Data collection, analysis and evaluation of student learning growth over time.

The Essential Elements are evident at the Evolving stage of each Continuum (below) and are further articulated in the Embedding and Excelling stages in some dimensions.


The Continuum for Instructional and shared leadership describes a range of proficiency levels (Emerging, Evolving, Embedding and Excelling) that assists principals and teachers to identify areas of practice that require attention in order to deliver improved student outcomes. 

School leaders lead teaching and learning


Leaders periodically update their own knowledge of effective pedagogical practices and share new research with staff. Leaders encourage staff to work together to develop curriculum, teaching and assessment strategies.


Leaders lead and participate in professional learning with staff in areas including curriculum planning, instructional methods, assessment strategies and the use of student achievement data. Leaders work with staff to review and improve their teaching, including using observation, feedback and coaching.


Leaders use their expertise to guide the instructional program of the school. They prioritise evidence-based, high-impact strategies and support staff to use them consistently. Leaders are seen by staff as instructional experts who use their pedagogical knowledge and skills to coach and develop others.


Leaders model and demonstrate high levels of pedagogical knowledge and skill, including expert knowledge of evidence-based teaching strategies. Leaders align instructional and curriculum planning with the goals of the school. They integrate continuous evaluation and improvement of practice with performance and development processes.

School leaders lead whole-school improvement


Leaders encourage teachers to collaborate and review the impact of their teaching on student learning. The principal identifies priority areas for improvement consistent with the school’s AIP. All teachers have a Performance and Development Plan with alignment to AIP goals. 


Leaders periodically review student data and guide and drive professional learning in data analysis to support teachers to assess the effectiveness of their instructional practices. The School Improvement Team oversees and evaluates the effectiveness and impact of the AIP. All staff engage in annual performance and development processes with regular opportunities to share progress towards improving student learning and gain critical feedback from school leaders.


Leaders drive school-based professional learning that enables teacher teams to respond effectively to the analysis of student data which measures the impact of teaching programs. The leadership team monitors the impact of school improvement strategies and trajectories towards AIP goals. School leaders lead staff teams to share progress and challenges of Performance and Development Plans. Staff provide critical peer feedback on progress and problems of practice. Leaders monitor the extent to which feedback informs professional learning.


Teachers work collaboratively, using data to reflect on the impact of their teaching. Informed by peer review systems, with coaching and mentoring, a reflective culture is built and sustained across all levels of the school. The school engages with its community to share and gain feedback on its improvement journey and AIP goal achievement. The principal’s Performance and Development Plan and the AIP establish the school improvement goals in staff Performance and Development Plans. Staff engage in goal setting and reflective practice through a structured annual performance and development process. The leadership team is individually and collectively accountable for leading improvement in learning and teaching.

School leadership is shared


The principal provides some opportunities for teachers to take on leadership roles outside the classroom. Leaders consider input from teachers at the school when making decisions. Students’ views on school organisational matters are considered.


The principal team delegates authority to others to undertake specific activities and implements processes that support leadership development. The principal team actively canvasses the views of leaders and teachers in the school when formulating decisions. The school has formal and informal processes for students to contribute their views on school organisation and some elements of teaching and learning. 


The principal team creates challenging roles, responsibilities and opportunities for leaders that leverage and grow their talents. The leadership team models distributed leadership through clear individual and collective roles and responsibilities. The leadership team develops whole-school responsibility for improving student outcomes. The school has formal and informal processes for students to represent student views on school organisation and teaching and learning initiatives.


The principal team builds leadership capacity by creating a culture of empowerment, responsibility and opportunities for growth at all levels of experience. Leadership is distributed and centred around developing the capabilities of all members of the school community, including students. A shared focus on improving student outcomes drives inquiry and an innovative school culture.  The practice of teachers and the school’s improvement agenda is directly influenced by systemic student input.

Printable resource

Continuum as an A3 print out (pdf - 224.87kb)

Case studies

To see examples of how schools in Victoria are implementing the FISO dimension: Instructional and shared leadership see: Instructional and shared leadership case studies.

Evidence base

To view the Evidence Base for the FISO dimension: Instructional and shared leadership see: Evidence - Instructional and shared leadership (docx - 647.33kb).


Why should my school engage with this dimension?
  • Principals cannot lead instructional improvement alone
  • The expansion of teacher leader numbers creates a critical mass of leadership and content expertise for supporting and implementing improvement
  • Leadership collaboration helps build a sense of collective responsibility for the accomplishments of all students
  • By understanding that learning and leading are firmly linked in community, we take the first essential step in building shared instructional leadership capacity.
  • Build a 'learning community' culture
  • Create a common focus for improvement
  • Build school-level leadership capacity
  • Hold leaders accountable for results
To what extent is this dimension being implemented in my school?

Consider whether leadership at your school is distributed and is centred around developing the capabilities of all teachers with a focus on collective responsibility for improving student outcomes.

What does successful implementation look like?

  • Collaborative leadership is distributed throughout the school, and is used to develop the leadership capacity of staff
  • Professional learning is led by school leaders who ensure that teachers continually update their pedagogical content knowledge
  • There is a deep and current understanding of effective instructional techniques. Systematic methods to assess and develop the quality of teaching and learning in the school are established
  • Continuous evaluation and improvement of practice is integrated with performance and development processes
  • Teacher roles and actions reflect broad involvement, collaboration, and collective responsibility
  • Inquiry-based use of information and data guides shared decisions and practice.
What strategies and actions can my school implement?
  • Use 'learning walks/walk throughs'/peer observation models to support collaboration and the provision of support for the implementation of change in the classroom
  • Create common planning times for teachers to meet and collaborate on efforts to improve student outcomes
  • Utilise network and regional resources
  • Use instructional coaches as part of your strategy to improve instruction
  • Use a structured learning model with leadership teams to discuss the implications of ideas and as a means to challenge and integrate thinking and move to new and collective levels of understanding. These conversations give rise to new and better instructional practices.

More information

For more information, see: Professional Leadership priority