Building positive secondary school communities through participatory action research

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian Association for Research in Education


School of Education




Lummis, G.W., Morris, J.E., & Lock, Graeme. (2016). Factors contributing to the development of positive secondary school staff relationships. In Proceedings of the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2016.

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Supporting secondary school leaders to improve staff wellbeing is important because staff (both teaching and administrative) are key stakeholders in students’ educational outcomes. This project is promoting a collaborative approach between a university and leadership staff at three Perth secondary schools to co-create, implement and evaluate professional learning interventions that promote enhanced staff relationships and wellbeing. The participatory action research has involved collecting data across the school environments that were quantitatively analysed to build models of school organisational health and staff morale. These models have facilitated discussion between researchers and staff in the construction of school-wide approaches to supporting staff interpersonal relationships and enhancing school community. The interventions are currently being enacted within the schools, and post-testing will occur in 2017. This paper reports on the generalisable findings from working in the three case study schools, specifically from the initial baseline testing and focus group data used to design the interventions. While the models of factors affecting school culture and staff relationships were different in each school, professional growth and supportive leadership were two factors that were consistent across all three models.

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