We need transformational leadership & high expectations in ALL schools

appleTaken from a recent essay I wrote about 3 factors influencing youth and related to my previous post: Socio-economic status & educational achievement


Low-SES and Indigenous status in Australian schools is associated with educational underachievement and social disadvantage.  A common characteristic presented in low-SES and Indigenous studies on educational achievement is the low aspirations of students and parents combined with low-expectations of these students by teachers and schools (Hughes & Hughes, 2012; Mills & Gale, 2011).  An implication of these depressing results is that schools, teachers and the community must change.  To combat this educational disadvantage schools and teachers must change their perceptions, increase teacher quality, implement transformational leadership (Lyons & Janca, 2012) and insist on high expectations (Sarra, 2003).  Changing perceptions and increasing teacher quality can be difficult since this requires professional development and a change in personal view by challenging norms and stereotypes in society.  Teacher accountability and principal autonomy may potentially improve underperforming schools (Kleinhenz & Ingvarson, 2004; Mills & Gale, 2011; Mulford, 2008); however, unionised teacher resistance to change and accountability are major obstacles.

Hughes, H., & Hughes, M. (2012). Indigenous Education 2012: CIS policy monograph. St Leonards, NSW: The Cenre for Independent Studies Limited.

Kleinhenz, E., & Ingvarson, L. (2004). Teacher accountability in Australia: current policies and practices and their relation to the improvement of teaching and learning. Research Papers in Education, 19(1), 31-49.

Lyons, Z., & Janca, A. (2012). Indigenous children in Australia: health, education and optimism for the future. Australian Journal of Education, 56(1), 5-21.

Mills, C., & Gale, T. (2011). Re-asserting the place of context in explaining student (under-) achievement. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 32(2), 239-256.

Mulford, B. (2008). The leadership challenge: improving learning in schools. Camberwell, VIC: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Sarra, C. (2003). Young and black and deadly: strategies for improving outcomes for Indigenous students. Australian College of Educators, 2003.



One comment on “We need transformational leadership & high expectations in ALL schools

  1. […] These are not new stereotypes but they are important to continually recognise and question by teachers.  Too often, I have personally witnessed teachers labeling low-SES students as “lazy”, “slow” and “not interested in Education”.  These sweeping generalisations are heard throughout a teaching staff room and often are mutually agreed upon by other teachers allowing these types of generalisations to be unquestioned.  I have been told numerous times by teachers: “you care too much” and “why bother!”.  I tell all my students to question everything.  I believe teachers MUST question everything too!  I understand that not every teacher has a social reform perspective on Education (I obviously do); however, at a very minimum I believe teachers should not be judging their students in terms of their social & economic capital.  Rather, I believe a teacher’s role is to encourage learning, promote critical thinking and get to know students well to help form authentic links to student’s lives & their learning.  We need transformational leadership and quality teachers that all actively support a high expectations schoo…. […]


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