"The principal is hopeless. She needs a good boot in the rear end": Cultural diversity and conflicting school agendas

Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences


Kurongkurl Katitjin




Partington, G., Godfrey, J., & Richer, K. (2001). The principal is hopeless. She needs a good boot in the rear end. Cultural diversity and conflicting school agendas. Proceedings of 2001 AARE International Education Research Conference. Fremantle, WA. AARE. Available here


When the goals of education are usurped by other agendas, education takes a back seat. In the present study, the school principal's desire to present her school as efficient and herself as a competent principal led to oppression of teachers and parents in an effort to put a lid on dissension. As a consequence, the Aboriginal students were alienated from the school and became antagonistic towards the teachers. The study focused particularly on one of the teachers (who was also the deputy principal) who was keen to implement effective schooling for the Indigenous students in his class. His efforts were frustrated by the principal who ignored his, and other teachers’, requests for cultural relevance and more appropriate relations with parents. The study is placed in a critical perspective. Institutional agendas are examined in the context of differential power relations and social distance between teachers and students. The rationalisation of actions by the school is evaluated in the light of diverse reports from teachers, parents, support staff and students.

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