PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES OF SCHOOL PRINCIPALS THAT FACILITATE ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER EDUCATION ACROSS DIVERSE SCHOOL CONTEXTS

Author: Jim Davies

Davies, Jim, 2017 PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES OF SCHOOL PRINCIPALS THAT FACILITATE ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER EDUCATION ACROSS DIVERSE SCHOOL CONTEXTS, Flinders University, School of Education

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Abstract

This research focused on school principals’ professional practices that facilitate Indigenous education across diverse school contexts. Research evidence indicates the impact on student learning of school principals’ leadership as being significant, and more significant in less-advantaged schools. The research was framed as qualitative research using interpretive methodologies and document analysis techniques. Data collected through evaluations of Indigenous education in 57 Australian schools in the period 2012-2014 was used for the research. The principal professional practices described within the “Australian Professional Standard for Principals”, and their associated profiles describing increasing levels of proficiency, were used to guide analysis of the data (AITSL, 2014). The influence on principals’ practices of school type, size, Indigenous student enrolment, location and socio-educational status was analysed. Principals’ extant practices that shape the ecology of education for the benefit of Indigenous students were identified and more proficient practices proposed. However, this research illuminated significant relational elements associated with leadership beneficent for the education of Indigenous students. A necessary component is leadership that demonstrably values the culture, agency and beliefs of Indigenous people; that places Indigenous students’ physical, mental, cultural and spiritual wellbeing at the centre of the school’s activities; that actively develops collaborative relationships and networks based on reciprocity, trust, cooperation and civility; that is guided and sustained by humanistic endeavour. A theoretical framework for leadership of Indigenous education is proposed. It ascribes to the principal a role as ‘protagonist’, building bridging social capital around the practices that contribute holistically to the education of Indigenous students.

Keywords: principal, practices, Indigenous education, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, school leadership
Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Professional Doctorate
Completed: 2017
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Professor R John Halsey