Leading cultural change towards inclusive practice development in an Australian secondary school

PhD Thesis

McCartan, Allison. 2023. Leading cultural change towards inclusive practice development in an Australian secondary school. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/z4yq0

Leading cultural change towards inclusive practice development in an Australian secondary school

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorsMcCartan, Allison
1. FirstA/Pr Joan Conway
2. SecondProf Dorothy Andrews
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages190
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/z4yq0

The inclusion of students with special educational needs has presented a significant challenge to education systems worldwide, requiring new approaches to teaching and learning. Current research overwhelmingly supports the inclusion of all students in the same classroom, although many schoolteachers express concerns about student participation and achievement, as well as the daily challenges of inclusive practice. This ethnographic study explores the development of inclusive practice for students with special educational needs in a secondary College where the development was a result of the impact of disruptive processes. These disruptions were brought about by leadership change, a school improvement process, and mandatory legislative requirements related to The National Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD). The focus question for the study was: What can be learned to develop more inclusive practices for students with special educational needs from a school that has undergone two years of disruptive processes? The study is guided by a constructivist interpretivist paradigm, and the researcher gathered qualitative data from multiple sources, including a documentation review, participant interviews, and a reflective journal. The findings of the study reveal the complexities of creating inclusive cultural change within a large secondary College, where deeply held attitudes and beliefs, as well as the built environment, play significant roles. The study highlights that inclusive change is achievable through key organisational factors, such as leadership and improvement capacity. Specifically, the study identifies the importance of leadership with an inclusive intent focused on developing teacher-leader capacity through targeted resourcing and multiple opportunities for ongoing professional learning. The study culminates in the creation of a model to support the practice development of inclusive schooling, which emphasises the principal’s role in cultivating and creating relationships with teacher leaders to prepare them for shared and collective leadership practice. The model addresses issues of equity, fairness, and accountability by providing multiple ongoing opportunities and targeted resources to support teacher capacity development for inclusive practice. The study has significant implications for school leaders embarking on a journey of improvement, highlighting opportunities to enhance inclusivity through ongoing staff professional learning for the enactment of inclusive practice. Such change can also improve the quality of the implementation of the NCCD, as school staff gain a deeper understanding and awareness of individual student needs and adjustments required for effective teaching and learning in an inclusive culture.

Keywordsinclusive practice; cultural change; teacher leader capacity; shared leadership ; improvement processes; professional learning
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020399999. Other education not elsewhere classified
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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