Dr Camilla Phyllis Highfield

MFA, RMIT University; DipTchg (secondary), Auckland College of Education; DipFA, Otago Polytechnic

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Assoc Dean - Acad Transition


Camilla Highfield has recently started in a new role as Associate Dean - Academic Transitions at the Faculty of Education and Social Work. This role involves chairing a strategic plan working party and collaborating with colleagues to support the move to city campus and developments in south Auckland. She continues her consulting work for Communities of Learning as contracted to The Ministry of Education as an Expert Partner.

Camilla has worked at the University since 2007 and was previously  the Director of Professional Learning and Development. This role involved her leading three key buisness units with over 100 staff, to deliver high quality professional learning and development to educators in New Zealand schools. Camilla has held a range of roles within her career in education over the last 25 years including a secondary school art teacher and  Senior Advisor; the Arts at The Ministry of Education in 2002. In 2004 she changed roles and led the Secondary Education team at The Ministry of Education. Camilla has a Masters in Fine Arts and a Doctor of Education. She has had two books published on New Zealand artists and was the deputy chair of the board of a large secondary school for five years.

Camilla’s research and professional interests are in the arts,  professional development, schooling improvement   and leadership. Developing and coaching effective leadership practices in colleagues and young people is a particular interest.  She has given papers at conferences focused on schooling improvement and is an emerging academic writer. The title of her doctoral thesis completed in 2012 was The impact of middle leadership practices on student academic outcomes in New Zealand secondary schools. This involved the investigation of the variation of student academic outcomes in New Zealand secondary schools and the extent to which that variation can be attributed to the practices of middle leaders. Camilla is currently supervising students studying at Masters level.

Camilla is a widow with two daughters aged 16 and 22. She enjoys spending time with her friends and children, travelling overseas and experiencing the New Zealand natural environment.


Teaching Area/Interests:

  • Secondary Education
  • Leadership
  • The Arts


Research Interests (area & methodologies):

  • Schooling Improvement
  • Leadership
  • Within-school variation


Previous professional experience (prior to present position):

  • Secondary teacher 1987-2000
  • Ministry of Education official 2001-2006
  • Director: Professional Learning and Development 2007-2018


Professional Roles and Affiliations:

  • Deputy Chair Board of Trustees, Epsom Girls Grammar School
  • Board Member: University of Auckland Centre for Educational Leadership
  • Co-chair, Professional Learning Association, New Zealand (PLANZ)

Research | Current

Title of Thesis:
The impact of middle leadership on secondary student academic outcomes.

Teaching | Current

University of Auckland - Faculty of Education

2013                 EDPROFST782  Education Change (100% lecturer)

2014            EDPROFST 757  Undertaking Research for School Improvement (50% delivery)

2015            Co - Supervision masters thesis and masters dissertation students with Professor Viviane Robinson

2016            Co-supervision masters three theses with Professor Helen Timperley, Dr Aaron Wilson, Dr Melinda   Webber

2017-2018  Co-supervision of masters thesis with Dr Mohamed Alansari

2018             Co-supervision of PhD thesis with Dr Rebecca Jesson

2019            Teaching EDCURSEC Art History Education

                     Co-supervision masters thesis with Dr Mohamed Alansari and Dr Esther Fitzpatrick

Supervision Topics and Grade

1. Growing Leaders: How senior secondary school leaders grow the leadership capacity of curriculum middle leaders (A-).

2. Transferring and utilising learning from the teaching as inquiry process (A-).

3. Do classroom observations change secondary school practice in a secondary school? (A-).

4. Through the Looking Glass: Current practice for academic tracking in Science and Social Studies in New Zealand secondary school contexts (A-)

5.Investigating the specific mentoring practices that support improved academic outcomes for Pasifika students (B+).

6. Teachers’ initial experiences of collaboration in a Community of Learning (A).

7. What factors determine how effectively teachers reflect on their professional practice to positively impact on student learning? (B+)

8. Leaders knowledge and skills required to be effective Communities of Learning - Kāhui Ako (PhD due for completion 2020)

Postgraduate supervision

  • Distinguished Professor Viviane Robinson
  • Associate Professor Christine Rubie-Davies

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Chair, Strategic Working Party, Faculty of Education and Social Work

Chair, Workload and Timetable Committee, Faculty of Education and Social Work

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Highfield, C. (2012). The impact of middle leadership practices on student academic outcomes in New Zealand secondary schools The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/19796
  • Highfield, C. (2010). Disparity in student achievement within and across secondary schools: an analysis of department results in English, maths and science in New Zealand. School Leadership & Management, 30 (2), 171-190. 10.1080/13632431003685860

Contact details

Alternative contact


Primary office location

Level 2, Room 202
New Zealand