Forming School Identities in the Context of Increasing Community Diversity

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If identity is culturally constructed, then the context in which it develops impacts on its stability during a time of social change. Within Aotearoa/New Zealand, communities are experiencing multiple forms of change due to the repercussions of political, economic and social policies. A further significant transformation is that of the ethnic composition of communities, instantiated by the Auckland metropolis. While communities are evaluating levels of social and economic sustainability, principals within secondary schools are also grappling with a school character that is dynamic, complex and challenging. It is within such school communities that benefit is gained from proactive leadership strategies that facilitate social cohesion. Conceptually, if identity relates to both the ‘internal experience of place and external participation in world and society’ (Cockburn, 1983, p. 1) then school identity should provide an inclusive environment whereby students can belong to the school while retaining their own sense of cultural self. This paper refers to the research findings of an international study, to show that while deliberate practices can draw together diverse groups to achieve social inclusion, tension exists when the focus is not fully multi-dimensional.


Keywords: School Identity, Multiculturalism, Inclusion
Stream: Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Forming School Identities in the Context of Increasing Community Diversity


Dr. Jennie Billot

Postgraduate Student Research Director, Postgraduate Division, Unitec New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand

Dr Jennie Billot
PhD (Auck); BSc(Hons) (Lond); PGCertEd (Lough)

Postgraduate Student Research Director: Unitec New Zealand.

My research interests have emerged from working in different sectors of education. This includes teaching across primary, secondary and tertiary contexts, government initiated school review and research and directing a centre for educational research and Institutes for Educational Leadership (residential professional development programmes for school principals). I have also led internal, external (Ministry of Education) and international collaborative research projects, including projects focusing on teaching and learning. Following my commissioned research in the Pacific Islands, I was the invited facilitator of the Pacific Forum, initiated by the International Confederation of Principals in Sydney (2003) focusing on research into principalship in the Pacific. I currently co-ordinate and lecture in a course of Research Methods across disciplines and work through the Unitec Postgraduate Division to support postgraduate student research. My current research interests lie primarily in educational leadership, diversity and ethical leadership, the tertiary research culture and research preparation for tertiary students.

Ref: H08P0359