Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    A community-led bilingual school in action: the Deutsche Schule Melbourne (DSM)
    Douglas, Evelyn Linda ( 2012)
    This research is a case study of the Deutsche Schule Melbourne – A German English Bilingual School (DSM). Located five kilometres from the Melbourne CBD in North Fitzroy, the DSM was established as an independent school in 2008. A unique feature of the DSM is that the school has not yet appointed a principal. This study investigated the founding of this school and asked, “What led to the creation of the DSM and how has the school been developed and sustained since then?” The scope of this research also included two minor questions involving the success of the school to date and the future needs and directions of the school. It describes the creation of this new bilingual school and examines the key factors in its formation and development. Data were gathered through documents and semi-structured, one-to-one and group interviews which comprised a selection of teachers and parents, as well as current and former Board members of the DSM. The case study revealed that the idea for the DSM came from within the German-Australian community who wanted to establish a German-speaking school in Melbourne which would also become a focal point for their community. By drawing and building on support from within that same community, the school was formed. Two distinct phases in the school’s creation were identified and described: The Founding Phase and The Established Phase. Each phase contained a number of clearly defined developmental milestones. In both phases, members from the school community and the wider German-Australian community led the creation and development of the school, making it a community-led school. Key factors found to be essential to the formation of the DSM were: a clear vision; a distributed leadership model; a distinctive marketing orientation; high levels of community support; a collaborative, democratic decision-making process; bilingual/bicultural focus; and, high levels of commitment and persistence. Further analysis revealed strong similarities to Kotter’s theory of change management process in the way the school was created and developed. A comparison of the leadership demonstrated by the DSM community and the Victorian model of Successful Principalship which was part of the International Successful School Principalship Project also showed that the DSM was successfully led by its community. This case study provides insight into new school formation, school leadership, bilingual education and community involvement in schools, and will be of interest to policy makers, researchers and those involved in schools.