School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis

He Kura Rangatira, He Kura Ākonga: Te Hua i Kitea Ai,Te Hua i Rite Ai

Publication Details

Welcome to the School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis. The Ministry of Education’s new School leadership and student outcomes: Identifying what works and why: Best evidence synthesis iteration (BES) was launched by the Minister of Education, Hon. Anne Tolley, at the opening of the University of Auckland Leadership Centre on 4 November 2009.

Author(s): Viviane Robinson, Margie Hohepa, Claire Lloyd, The University of Auckland.

Date Published: November 2009

BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme
This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box).  For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box or visit the BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme.


The new synthesis of 134 New Zealand and overseas research studies or reviews has been developed collaboratively using Ministry of Education guidelines. Professor Viviane Robinson and Dr Margie Hohepa at the University of Auckland were lead writers for this synthesis of effective leadership practices.

The big finding of the BES is that when school leaders promote and/or participate in effective teacher professional learning this has twice the impact on student outcomes across a school than any other leadership activity. New Zealand principals spend less time on those activities that make most difference than many of their international peers.

In New Zealand the mean effect size for student gain from a year's teaching is .35. Another key finding in this BES is that when school leaders promote or participate in effective teacher professional learning and development they have more than twice this impact across a whole school, not just one class.

The BES findings come to life for readers through vignettes and easy-to-read cases (p.214 onwards).These cases provide examples of principals and others in leadership activities that advance achievement and social outcomes for students. The theory included in the synthesis explains how and why is critical to enable leaders to adapt and use the findings in their own contexts.

This BES is of relevance to all who have a leadership role in advancing valued outcomes from schooling including principals, middle management, other professional leaders, school trustees, policy makers and those who have a role in supporting the work of schools through research and teaching in the tertiary sector. 

The quality and relevance of this new best evidence synthesis has been partly due to the help given by New Zealand principals' associations and teacher unions in the process of its development. For example, in their foreword to the document NZPF explain: 

'The New Zealand Principals' Federation as one of the instigators of the School Leadership and Student Outcomes BES, gave feedback to the writers during the creation of this work. NZPF representatives robustly challenged and scrutinised this work as it progressed, and we now welcome its completion and its affirmation of the importance of principals' leadership.  The strengths of this BES lie in its potential to be used by school leaders as a formative tool….we recommend that principals use this BES as a personal tool.'

Twentyone New Zealand leadership groups and organisations have endorsed this new BES.

Early work on this BES won the Headley Beare Award, and the Davis Award for the best article in the prestigious US Educational Administration Quarterly in 2008.

Contact Us

Best Evidence Synthesis Programme (BES)
For more information visit BES on Education Counts, or email the: Best Evidence Mailbox.