This study is the result of an on-going four year project within a Melbourne school district. The study has provided a rich source for evaluating school-centered leadership within a context of centralised Government `guidelines' for schooling, and pressures toward linking `training' with industrial award restructuring. Insights were gained on staff differences in autonomy and collaboration, the ability of a school council to develop curriculum and program policy, whether local educational needs can be balanced with the demands of centralised Government `guidelines', the role of parents and students in school council decision making, and how important knowledge is defined within a school and its community. The purpose of this school project was to develop school educational goals in order to set out long term, sustainable, and achievable objectives for the school and local community. The project sought to establish what was an acceptable balance between the demands of central curriculum `guidelines' and maintenance of local needs. Contained within this project was an assumption concerning the relationship between political powerlessness in the broadest sense and school failure.