A Foot In All Camps: The Challenges Of School Leadership In A Low Socio-Economic Context

Year: 2015

Author: Prodonvich, Sam, Jinman, Stella, Elstermann, Peter, Perry, Laura

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Schools in low socio-economic catchments present educational leaders with an immense range of challenges. Understanding these challenges in a real and specific way allows us to craft authentic school leadership that fits the context. This paper presents the personal accounts of educational leaders working in primary and secondary schools in the outer-urban fringe of an Australian capital city against a backdrop of institutional devolution and increased school ‘autonomy’. This paper is applied in nature and is designed to contribute to and inform research on educational leadership by bringing to light the diverse range of challenges presenting current leaders in challenging educational contexts. Stories, accounts and a detailed analysis of ‘a day in the job’ provide examples of the challenges facing educational leaders. These challenges underscore the balancing act educational leaders perform between reactive management and strategic leadership, and this paper will explore institutional/accountability, political, community, curriculum, student welfare, and school management dimensions of this balancing act. The paper concludes by recommending what provisions should be in place to support school leaders in low socio-economic contexts to both ‘pull the cart and look at the road.’