Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    An investigation of principals’ views on the factors that influence the place and provision of music in primary schools
    Perry, 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.
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    The leadership role of principals in selected secondary "Schools of the Future": principal and teacher perspectives
    GURR, DAVID ( 1996)
    Schools of the Future is a major management reform of government (public) schools in Victoria, Australia. When fully implemented all schools will have control of 90% of their operating costs, principals will have the power to select and initiate the removal of staff, and schools will have a school charter that details a three year resource and accountability framework. As principals were viewed by the government as central to the reform, this research focussed on perceptions of the leadership role of principals. Perspectives on principal leadership were gathered from both principals and teachers using a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology without an a priori theoretical framework. Principals and teachers were interviewed at seven schools. In addition, principals only were interviewed at three schools. In total ten principals and thirty teachers from ten schools participated in the research. The perceptions of principals and teachers were found to be similar. The perceived leadership role of principals was found to be complex and multi-dimensional with 17 leadership themes described. In addition, there were 13 themes where change was noted in the leadership role since the introduction of Schools of the Future. Comparing the found leadership description with findings from the leadership literature resulted in a list of 12 recommendations for practice and support for three current conceptions of leadership: 1. Instructional leadership was evident, although there was less direct involvement by principals than suggested by previous research, indicating that the leadership could be better described as indirect instructional leadership. 2. The importance placed in transformational leadership conceptions on culture and symbolic leadership, and on being future orientated was confirmed in this research. 3. Support was also found for Caldwell and Spinks' description of leadership for self-managing schools, highlighting the additional leadership foci of accountability and responsiveness. Based on the research findings and comparison with the leadership literature, a model of leadership was presented that had four leadership areas labelled learning and teaching, symbolic and cultural awareness, future orientation and accountability. The model emphasised the linkages between instructional leadership, transformational leadership and leadership for self-managing schools. The model also emphasised the complexity of the leadership role of principals.