Australian Professional Standard for Principals

Developing the Standard

The Standard was developed through an intensive and collaborative process involving national and international research, drafting and critical review and feedback from over 550 stakeholders.

The Standard was tested through a series of pilot studies and builds on, and adds value to, existing standards and frameworks developed by education jurisdictions and professional bodies.

An expert representative steering group was established to provide advice and support on the development and promotion of the Standard. The group worked in collaboration with respected UK expert, Dame Patricia ‘Pat’ Collarbone, to develop the Standard.

Pilot Studies

AITSL worked in partnership with nine organisations to undertake ten pilot studies to test the exposure draft of the Standard nationally from February to May 2011.

  • Australian Council for Educational Leaders
  • Australian Council for Educational Research
  • Charles Darwin University, Centre for School Leadership, Learning and Development
  • New South Wales Department of Education and Communities
  • Principals Australia
  • Rural Education Forum Australia
  • South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services
  • Tasmanian Department of Education
  • Western Australia Department of Education

Each pilot study had a specific focus with the aim of collectively:

  • testing the authenticity, usefulness and value-add of the exposure draft of the Standard for the intended purposes, with different audiences and in varying contexts
  • contributing to establishing a sense of ownership and national consensus about the Standard
  • engaging aspiring and current principals and other key stakeholders.

The outcomes of the pilot studies informed the refinement and finalisation of the Standard. The findings and recommendations from each pilot were presented at a leadership symposium held in Melbourne in June 2011.

Final Report of pilot studies
Final report of pilot studies 823KB PDF

Leadership Symposium

AITSL convened a national Leadership Symposium in June 2011 which focussed on the ten pilot studies. The Symposium was the culmination of a highly consultative development process that took into account feedback from Australian and international leaders and experts in the field of education.

Education leaders from the government and non-government sectors and key interest groups from across Australia attended the Symposium along with three international keynote speakers; Dame Pat Collarbone from Britain, Dr Sandra Stein from the United States and New Zealand’s Professor Jan Robertson, all of whom are acknowledged experts in the field of school leadership and the development of professional standards.

On 8 July 2011 Ministers at the MCEECDYA meeting in Melbourne endorsed Australia’s first national standard for principals.


From mid-October to early December 2011, school and system leaders from all states and territories, across government, Catholic and independent sectors had the opportunity to work with Dame Pat to discuss the Australian Professional Standard for Principals and to plan for action in their respective schools and systems. The discussions focused on:

  • the crucial role of the Principal in a school
  • how the Principal Standard was developed
  • how the Principal Standard provides an opportunity for members of the education profession to describe the professional practice of effective principals and to make it accessible and meaningful to the community.

Visit the School Leadership section of the Multimedia Centre to see representatives from this work discussing the development of the Standard.