Culturally responsive leadership: a case study of improving relations between Indigenous communities and schools

Year: 2019

Author: Niesche, Richard, Thompson, Katherine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper reports on a research project funded by the Ian Potter Foundation to embed Indigenous perspectives in schools and classrooms. With the links between Indigenous communities and schools being a key focus area for improving educational outcomes for Indigenous students, this project sought to bring Indigenous community members into classrooms in 6 NSW schools. Community members were recruited to work with teachers as co-constructors of learning activities that explicitly value and work with Indigenous perspectives to move away from the traditional, often simply, behavioural control practices that have characterised this area for many years. We outline the positive outcomes from this project as well as a number of challenges faced by schools, teachers, principals and community members along the way. We theorise the practices of community members and some teachers and principals using culturally responsive leadership as a way to think about leadership practices that is more than just individualist accounts of exceptional practice. In doing so we argue for an approach to leadership that is grounded in culturally responsive understandings to improve the educational outcomes and opportunities for Indigenous students and also importantly the cultural understanding and awareness of non-Indigenous students, to better promote reconciliation.