Educational Leadership for Transformational Sustainability: A Critical Case Study of Pedagogy at a Western Australian Public Primary School
Australian Association for Research in Education
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education
In this paper, I aim to extend the boundaries of what is understood about widespread and lasting school improvement. I argue that the educational reform at the school level is minimal and may even be detrimental for students’ learning outcomes if it is not sustainable beyond the current leadership team. What is the effect of innovative school reform on children’s lives and educational success if structures are not in place to sustain it? How can worthwhile innovative pedagogical practices be maintained? For this discussion some innovative pedagogical practices at a primary school located in a low socio-economic area of Perth are explored. The data are drawn from a recent case study, which investigated the characteristics of democratic schools. The findings suggest that current primary government school leadership team appointments in Western Australia do not cater for seamless transition from one leadership team (or principal) to the next. Thus many school reform practices do not move beyond the implementation phase and consequently have minimal transformative effects. I argue that to maximise the capacity of ‘systems thinkers in action’ (Fullan, 2005) that work for more socially just and sustainable reform efforts in education and promote ‘practices of pedagogy that work against systems of oppression’ (Lather, 1991a), the shortcomings of current leadership appointment practices in the Western Australian government school system need to be problematised and possible solutions offered.