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ItemAn investigation of principals’ views on the factors that influence the place and provision of music in primary schoolsPerry, David John ( 2023-03)Though music remains an historically strong part of Australian school life, it is vulnerable to low resourcing and lack of status. Much of the literature specifically references the barriers to achieving a level of music provision that meets the needs of students in each individual school community. Research indicates that the principal is a significant influence on music provision in schools compared to other factors, although this is often overlooked in the literature. While the principal as change agent is well documented in certain music education literature, it is unusual to see their views explored in great depth. To investigate this gap, three primary principals from state schools in Melbourne’s northern suburbs in Victoria, Australia, were recruited for an interview-based study that sought to explore the question: What are the perspectives and ideas that shape principals’ views of music education? The study design used semi-structured interviews following a pre-interview survey and used an interpretivist paradigm due to the study’s emphasis on observation and interpretation. Interview data was categorised by theme, and language use was analysed using Conversational Analysis and Discourse Analysis methods. Critical theory, with its emphasis on social and power structures, was chosen as a theoretical framework. Findings suggested that the constraints on principals in Victorian schools, that had been identified in other, non-music education literature, could impact their capacity for provision of music. Principals are identified as possibly the strongest factor in the level and quality of provision, and as provision has been shown to be inconsistent, it is reasonable to assume that the capacity of individual principals is also inconsistent. While many principals value music and will endeavour to resource it in spite of barriers, it is suggested that the benefits of having music in schools be more broadly communicated to all stakeholders to elevate its status. All participants demonstrated a commitment to prioritising music provision at their school, and a willingness to learn more about its benefits. Furthermore, they also articulated the broader concept of needing to extend the knowledge about music’s benefits at a system and / or principal network level, in order to better support principals’ capacity to ensure music provision.
ItemThe preparation and development of middle leaders in Victorian secondary schoolsCooper, Peter Anthony Hope ( 2021)Middle leaders in schools provide a critical link between senior leadership and teaching staff. Employing a multi-perspective case study methodology, this study looked at the common themes facing middle leaders at three Victorian secondary schools, Catholic, government, and independent, with regard to their preparation for leadership, their professional and personal development in the role, how their role is perceived by those to whom they report and those they lead, and how they determine if they have been successful in their role. At each school, the following staff members were invited to participate in the study: senior leaders, middle leaders, and teachers. The middle leaders involved in this research were actively involved in leading pastoral, academic, and/or co-curricular departments within a Catholic, government, or independent school. Semi-structured interviewing was used for the purpose of collecting their responses. The participants’ responses were analysed, and emergent themes described. A total of 56 themes with 78 sub-themes emerged from the study, covering the dimensions of preparation, development, perception, and success in leadership. Common themes raised by middle leaders were professional learning, the support provided in their role, career progression, their ability to influence school direction, level of autonomy in the role, departmental management, professional relationships, and their support of students’ achievement. The study indicates that middle leaders’ measurement of success in the role was primarily linked to student achievement in academic and social domains. A leadership development model is offered to support aspiring and current middle leaders.
ItemPractices and characteristics of principals in low educational advantage, improving Victorian secondary schools; contextually aware leadershipMccrohan, Kieran Matthew ( 2020)This study investigated the leadership of two secondary schools of low educational advantage on an improvement journey located in Victoria, Australia. This study provides further understanding of the ways school principals interact with specific contextual factors in order to support their school improvement journey. In both cases, the principals overcame their school’s challenging circumstances, defined by low performance and low advantage, by employing research based initiatives to drive improvement. Informed by a multiple perspective case study methodology, including interviews with the principal and other school leaders, teachers, parents, students and members of the school council, evidence found principals with a strong moral purpose and change leadership enabled long term, albeit slow improvement. This improvement was enabled by the principal’s navigation of a range of contextual factors that influenced, and were influenced by, the characteristics and practices of the school leader. Along with a strong moral purpose, the school principals had a relentless drive for change that enabled them to overcome great adversity within their school contexts. Employing practices such as increased accountability for teachers around their teaching and learning, implementing collaborative practices across many levels of the school and instilling hope through a strong vision, enabled transformation of these schools into a more desirable destination for students, teachers and the wider community.