Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-xfwgj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-14T06:21:39.788Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Red Dirt Education Leaders ‘Caught in the Middle’: Priorities for Local and Nonlocal Leaders in Remote Schools

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2018

John Guenther*
Affiliation:
Division of Higher Education and Research, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Darwin, Northern Territory0909, Australia
Samuel Osborne
Affiliation:
School of Education, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, South Australia 5095, Australia
*
address for correspondence: John Guenther, Division of Higher Education and Research, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Darwin, Northern Territory0909, Australia. Email: John.guenther@batchelor.edu.au.
Get access

Abstract

Schooling for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in remote or ‘Red Dirt’ communities has been cast as ‘problematic’, and ‘failing’. The solutions to deficit understandings of remote schooling are often presented as simple. But for those who work in Red Dirt schools, the solutions are not simple, and for education leaders positioned between the local Red Dirt school and upward accountability to departments of education, they are complex. Between 2011 and 2016, the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation's (CRC-REP) Remote Education Systems project explored how education could better meet the needs of those living in remote communities. More than 1000 people with interests in remote education contributed to the research. Education leaders were identified as one stakeholder group. These leaders included school-based leaders, bureaucrats, community-based leaders and teacher educators preparing university graduates for Red Dirt schools. This paper focusses on what Red Dirt education leaders think is important for schooling. The findings show school leaders as ‘caught in the middle’ (Gonzalez & Firestone, 2013) between expectations from communities, and of system stakeholders who drive policy, funding and accountability measures. The paper concludes with some implications for policy and practice that follow on from the findings.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s) 2018

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Ainscow, M. (2005). Developing inclusive education systems: What are the levers for change? Journal of Educational Change, 6(2), 109124. doi: 10.1007/s10833-005-1298-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, A. (2012). Address in reply to the Northern Territory assembly. Darwin, Australia, news.com.au. Retrieved March 2018 from http://resources.news.com.au/files/2012/10/24/1226502/593050-alison-anderson-full-speech.pdfGoogle Scholar
Anderson, G. (2009). Advocacy leadership: Toward a post-reform agenda in education. New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Apple, M.W. (2017). Dialogue, field, and power. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 49(3), 247255. doi: 10.1080/00220620.2017.1315382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Auerbach, S. (2010). Beyond coffee with the principal: Toward leadership for authentic school-family partnerships. Journal of School Leadership, 20(6), 728757.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boomer, G. (1999). Pragmatic radical teaching and the disadvantaged schools program designs on learning: Essays on curriculum and teaching. Canberra, Australia: Australian Curriculum Studies Association.Google Scholar
Brayboy, B.M.J., & Castagno, A. (2009). Self-determination through self-education: Culturally responsive schooling for Indigenous students in the USA. Teaching Education, 20(1), 3153. doi: 10.1080/10476210802681709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davies, J. (2017). Professional practices of school principals that facilitate aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education across diverse school contexts. (Doctor of Education), Flinders University of South Australia. Retrieved from https://flex.flinders.edu.au/items/0e148617-b692-40f2-8a64-51322f279628/1/?.vi=file&attachment.uuid=42fafa64-b335-4508-b3c8-30d9effb0cc8Google Scholar
Department of Education and Training. (2015, March 22). Engaging parents in education. Retrieved May 2015 from http://studentsfirst.gov.au/engaging-parents-educationGoogle Scholar
Devlin, B., Disbray, S., & Devlin, N. (Eds.). (2017). History of bilingual education in the Northern Territory, vol. 12. Singapore: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Disbray, S., & Guenther, J. (2017). Review, assessment and development of future options for the Warlpiri education and training trust (WETT) and its programs. Final Report, May 2017 ed. Ninti One Limited. Retrieved September 2017 from http://www.clc.org.au/files/pdf/WETT-review-report-2017.pdfGoogle Scholar
Erickson, F. (2018). A history of qualitative inquiry in social and educational research. In Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research, 5th ed. (Kindle). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
Gonzalez, R.A., & Firestone, W.A. (2013). Educational tug-of-war: Internal and external accountability of principals in varied contexts. Journal of Educational Administration, 51(3), 383406. doi: 10.1108/09578231311311528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Guenther, J. (2013, December). Towards educational advantage in very remote Australia: An analysis of 2012 NAPLAN data: What does it tell us about remote education in the last five years?Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education, Adelaide, Australia. Retrieved May 2016 from http://www.aare.edu.au/data/publications/2013/Guenther113.pdfGoogle Scholar
Guenther, J. (2015). Overview of remote education systems qualitative results. Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation Ed. Ninti One Limited. Retrieved July 2015 from http://www.crc-rep.com.au/resource/CW025_RemoteEducationSystemsQualitativeResults.pdfGoogle Scholar
Guenther, J., & Disbray, S. (2015). Why local staff matter in very remote schools. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education Annual Conference, Fremantle, Australia. Retrieved January 2016 from http://www.academia.edu/19290693/WHY_LOCAL_STAFF_MATTER_IN_VERY_REMOTE_SCHOOLSGoogle Scholar
Guenther, J., Disbray, S., & Osborne, S. (2015). Building on “Red Dirt” perspectives: What counts as important for remote education? Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 44(2), 194206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Guenther, J., Disbray, S., & Osborne, S. (2016). Red Dirt education: A compilation of learnings from the remote education systems project. Alice Springs, Australia: Ninti One Limited. Retrieved from http://www.crc-rep.com.au/resource/RedDirtEducation_CompilationLearningsRES_EBook.pdfGoogle Scholar
Guenther, J., Halsey, J., & Osborne, S. (2015). From paradise to beyond: Geographical constructs and how they shape education in the bush. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education [Special issue: What next for rural education research?], 25(3), 6279.Google Scholar
Guenther, J., McRae-Williams, E., Osborne, S., & Williams, E. (2018). Decolonising colonial education researchers in ‘near remote’ parts of Australia. In Vass, G., Maxwell, J., Rudolph, S., & Gulson, K. N. (Eds.), The relationality of race in education research (pp. 108119). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
Guenther, J., Osborne, S., Arnott, A., & McRae-Williams, E. (2015). Hearing the voice of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training stakeholders using research methodologies and theoretical frames of reference. Race Ethnicity and Education, 20, 197208. doi: 10.1080/13613324.2015.1110294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gunter, H. (2014). Educational leadership and Hannah Arendt. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs. (2017). The power of education: From surviving to thriving–educational opportunities for aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Canberra, Australia: The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved January 2018 from https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Indigenous_Affairs/EducationalOpportunities/Final_ReportGoogle Scholar
Hughes, H., & Hughes, M. (2012). Indigenous education, vol. 129. Centre for Independent Studies, Australia. Retrieved August 2015 from http://www.cis.org.au/app/uploads/2015/07/pm129.pdf.Google Scholar
Kamara, M. (2017). Remote and invisible: The voices of female indigenous educational leaders in Northern Territory remote community schools in Australia. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 49(2), 128143. doi: 10.1080/00220620.2017.1284765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lea, T., Tootell, N., Wolgemuth, J., Halkon, C., & Douglas, J. (2008). Excellence or exit–ensuring Anangu futures through education. Darwin, Charles Darwin University. Retrieved March 2018 from http://apo.org.au/system/files/18382/apo-nid18382-31841.pdf.Google Scholar
Leithwood, K., Seashore, K., Anderson, S., & Wahlstrom, K. (2004). Review of research: How leadership influences student learning. Retrieved March 2017 from http://conservancy.umn.edu/bitstream/handle/11299/2035/CAREI%20ReviewofResearch%20How%20Leadership%20Influences.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=yGoogle Scholar
Liberman, K. (1980). Ambiguity and gratuitous concurrence in inter-cultural communication. Human Studies, 3(1), 6585. doi: 10.1007/bf02331801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lincoln, S., Lynham, S., & Guba, E. (2011). Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions, and emerging confluences, revisited. In Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research, 4th ed. (pp. 97128). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
Mackie, I., Shipway, B., Dutton, R., & MacLennan, G. (2016). The AEW project: Professional development for teacher aides in remote indigenous communities. International Journal of Social Science Studies, 4(11), 3040. doi: 10.11114/ijsss.v4i11.1922.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moll, L.C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory Into Practice, 31(2), 132141. doi: 10.1080/00405849209543534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mulford, B., & Silins, H. (2011). Revised models and conceptualisation of successful school principalship for improved student outcomes. International Journal of Educational Management, 25(1), 6182.Google Scholar
NESA. (2017). NESA RSAS Training Strategy Project. Retrieved March 2017 from http://www.nesa-rsas.com.au/Google Scholar
Northern Territory Department of Education. (1999). Learning lessons—An independent review of Indigenous education in the Northern Territory. Darwin, Australia: Northern Territory Government.Google Scholar
Northern Territory Department of Education. (2016, April 27). Indigenous education strategy newsletter (7). Retrieved March 2017 from https://education.nt.gov.au/education/statistics-research-and-strategies/indigenous-education-strategy/indigenous-education-strategy-newsletter-issue-7Google Scholar
Northern Territory Department of Education. (2017, December 1). Indigenous education strategy. Retrieved January 2018 from https://education.nt.gov.au/education/statistics-research-and-strategies/indigenous-education-strategyGoogle Scholar
Osborne, S. (2014). Puṯuṉa Kulini: The trouble with “hearing”. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 10(1), 314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Osborne, S. (2015). Learning from Anangu histories: Population centralisation and decentralisation influences and the provision of schooling in tristate remote communities. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 44(2), 127138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Osborne, S. (2017a). Kulini: Framing ethical listening and power-sensitive dialogue in remote Aboriginal education and research. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 22 (Special Issue: Decolonising Research Practices), 2637. doi: https://doi.org/10.18793/LCJ2017.22.04CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Osborne, S. (2017b). Staging standpoint dialogue in tristate education: Privileging Anangu voices. (PhD). Melbourne, Australia: Victoria University.Google Scholar
Osborne, S., & Guenther, J. (2013). Red dirt thinking on aspiration and success. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 42(Special Issue 02), 8899. doi: doi:10.1017/jie.2013.17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Patton, M. (2015). Qualitative research and evaluation methods: Integrating theory and practice, 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
Performance and Evaluation Branch. (2013). Cape York welfare reform evaluation. Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Retrieved September 2014 from http://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/03_2013/cywr_evaluation_report_v1.2_0.pdfGoogle Scholar
Phillips, J., & Luke, A. (2017). Two worlds apart: Indigenous community perspectives and non-Indigenous teacher perspectives on Australian schools. In Pink, W. T. & Noblit, G. W. (Eds.), Second international handbook of urban education (pp. 959996). Cham: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rizvi, F., & Lingard, B. (2010). Globalizing education policy. Abingdon, Routledge.Google Scholar
Raeburn, S., Bat, M., & Kilgariff, C. (2015). Looking for a new common ground: a reflection on Batchelor Institute's teacher eduction training programs for remote Aboriginal education professionals in the Northern Territory. In Huijser, H., Ober, R., O'Sullivan, S., McRae-Williams, E., & Elvin, R. (Eds.), Finding the Common Ground: Narratives, Provocations and Reflections from the 40 Year Celebration of Batchelor Institute (pp. 2940). Batchelor: Batchelor Press.Google Scholar
Shaked, H., & Schecter, C. (2017). Systems thinking for school leaders. Cham: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision. (2016). Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage key indicators. Canberra, Productivity Commission. Retrieved February 2017 from http://www.pc.gov.au/research/ongoing/overcoming-indigenous-disadvantage/2016/report-documents/oid-2016-overcoming-indigenous-disadvantage-key-indicators-2016-report.pdfGoogle Scholar
Street, C., Guenther, J., Smith, J., Robertson, K., Motlap, S., Ludwig, W., . . . Ober, R. (2017). The evolution of Indigenous higher education in Northern Territory, Australia: A chronological review of policy. International Studies in Widening Participation, 4(2), 3251.Google Scholar
Sun, J., & Leithwood, K. (2015). Direction-setting school leadership practices: A meta-analytical review of evidence about their influence. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 26(4), 499523. doi: 10.1080/09243453.2015.1005106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilson, B. (2014). A share in the future: Review of indigenous education in the Northern Territory. Retrieved May 2014 from http://www.education.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/37294/A-Share-in-the-Future-The-Review-of-Indigenous-Education-in-the-Northern-Territory.pdf.Google Scholar