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An investigation of the way in which school and community leadership processes influence the role of schools in rural community development

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Johns, S (2004) An investigation of the way in which school and community leadership processes influence the role of schools in rural community development. Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Whilst there is nothing new about rural school~ommunity linkages, the growth of schoolcommunity partnerships in recent years represents a new phase in this symbiotic relationship: one that is formalised, and supported by government at the policy level. Partnerships are based on a collective, rather than individual or 'hero leader: view of leadership. and are designed to facilitate collective learning and problem solving. They facilitate the integration of school and community resources, and are designed primarily to enhance student outcomes. Schoolcommunity partnerships also facilitate lifelong learning, but only passing attention has been paid to their impacl on the broader capacity-building, or social capital. outcomes in rural communities. Using a qualitative approach, and a case study strategy of inquiry, this study explores the process of building school~ommunity partnerships, from the perspective of those involved in partnership development. Five effective school~ommunity partnerships were selected, using a purposive sampling strategy. Data were collected from multiple sources, including semi-structured interviews, researcher observation, written documentation, and community perception maps, and were used in the preparation of case studies of five different rural school--<:ommunity partnerships. Extensive cross-case analysis was then undertaken to enhance transferability of the findings. The study found that effective partnerships are complex and long-term in nature. Viewing partnership development as a five-stage process through which social capital is built and used, it is the fourth stage, critical retlection, that is the key to partnership sustainability. This stage is not adequately recognised in research into partnership development. At this stage partnership identity is affirmed as successes are recognised and celebrated, and the decision is taken to continue the partnership learning cycle. Thus, the social capital built over the earlier stages of partnership development is marshalled at the critical reflection stage, to facilitate further collaborative action. Specific leadership roles are linked to the five-stage partnership development process. These roles are weighted towards facilitating the partnership (building social capital amongst partners). Roles arc not based on formal leadership positions, and are shared amongst school and community members. Those who undertake specific leadership roles have relevant skills, knowledge and attributes, as well as a high level of commitment to the partnership. This is not to deny the critical role of formal school leaders (princip,!ls). They are keyholders to partnership and rural

Item Type: Thesis (Research Master)
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2011 07:05
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2012 02:12
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/10665
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