Indigenous leadership in changing times and changing organisations: The centrality of Indigenous leadership in advancing schooling outcomes in Northern Territory (NT) remote schools

Year: 2018

Author: Fry, Gary

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In a world of continuous and fluid change, NT remote school organisations are caught within a social flux of patterned, structural educational inequality that models of Western-style leadership have largely been ineffective in altering. In this reform inertia I turn to the role that Indigenous leadership can play in breaking this cycle, and do so by reifying its legitimate and structural positioning against three core domains. These include: (1) what is Indigenous leadership and why does it matter, given schools are fundamentally about Western knowledge construction?; (2) in what ways does Indigenous leadership represent a strengthened reform plank in the navigation and development of NT remote school service provision, particularly given the impacts of structural turbulence that corrupts linear growth patterns?; and (3) what might a district education policy environment look like in enabling such policy trajectory?A key purpose of this paper is to identify and discuss the pivotal role that Indigenous leadership can play in moving NT remote schools along a continuum of development; a policy opportunity that has long existed nebulously connected, if not fully outside official NT Indigenous education policy settings. In this paper, NT Remote Indigenous Schools are sites of attention because they have consistently been the lowest performing of any jurisdiction in Australia. Of the 151 government schools in the NT, 110 are in remote and very remote contexts, with few validators to the structural placement of education. Of the 60,000 Indigenous members in the NT, 50,000 live in such contexts and Indigenous languages are the medium of economy and social/cultural life. From a pool of an approximate 1800 teachers in the NT, about 70 are Indigenous and most teach in urban contexts. What is behind this dichotomy and how can Indigenous leadership shift such patterned expressions of education inequality?