The Politics of Languages Education Initiatives: Principals' Perspectives

Year: 2017

Author: Weiss, Ingrid

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper explores the experiences of five NSW primary school principals who took the lead in beginning and continuing management of bilingual primary schools in NSW. The findings are based on a research study conducted with four NSW bilingual schools in 2012 and 2013, and the Principals' perspectives in implementing the initiatives is one key political and contextual element within the broader study. A contrast is made between the Principals' management dilemmas within government funding incentivized program and within a community inspired program. The issues analysed involving teacher allocation, training and Language 2 Curriculum Key Learning Areas vary due to differing funding allocations and varying school learning and teaching cultures. The school culture is further explored within one school which changes its Principal in the second year of the study. The study highlights the outcomes of varying educational philosophies and practices regarding the bilingual school structure. The focus is to discuss the role the Principal plays when embracing the management and delivery of complex programs and the consequent implications for the whole school community.
The research highlights the need for improved professional development for the whole school community when implementing new initiatives, particularly commitment to bilingual languages programs. Recommendations are made for State or Regional jurisdictions to provide guidance and scaffolding for program delivery, and to develop scope and sequence for L2 acquisition in bilingual primary schools. Additionally, this paper shows that the preparation of school leaders is as important as the preparation of specialised staff within bilingual schools.