Understanding school cultures

School cultures focus on learning, teaching, and gaining an understanding of 'what we value around here'.

New Zealand articles and resources

What is our School Culture Like? – A Checklist for Analysing a School’s Culture

by Multiple authors

Leaders can use this evaluation tool to help them analyse their own school's culture.

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Creating culturally safe schools for Māori students

by Angus Macfarlane, Ted Glynn, Tom Cavanagh, and Sonja Bateman

This article looks at ways to create culturally safe classrooms in New Zealand schools. It focuses on ways in which teachers and schools can create inclusive environments for Māori students, and reminds us that all students benefit from being in culturally inclusive classrooms.

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Thinking About Principalship

by David Stewart

In this article, originally developed for the First-Time Principals Programme, David Stewart explores the link between effective principalship and school cultures that supports learning. He overviews the work of a number of theorists who argue that successful leadership stems from a particular form of school culture – one where schools are perceived as 'communities' rather than 'organisations'.

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What Ought I to Do, All Things Considered? An Approach to the Exploration of Ethical Problems by Teachers

by Alan Hall

This paper is an introduction to exploring ethical issues and problems within the educational context. It includes a brief theoretical framework regarding the importance of taking an ethical approach to solving difficult issues and two compelling case studies from New Zealand schools as examples.

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New Zealand school stories

Bruce McDonald, Kenakena School.

Kenakena School

Bruce McDonald discusses bringing the focus of the school back to curriculum.

Debbie Marshall-Lobb, Te Kura Kaupapa o Māori Manawatu.

Te Kura Kaupapa o Māori Manawatu

Debbie Marshall-Lobb discusses how relationships are everything and how the principal plays a really powerful role in terms of shaping culture.

Juliet Small, Oranga School.

Oranga School

Juliet Small discusses moving towards the culture of Oranga School.

Karen Johansen, Gisborne Girls High School.

Gisborne Girls High School

Gisborne Girls High school is part of a local, a national, and an international community. Karen Johansen feels celebrating success is an integral part of the school culture.

Linda Tame, Lincoln High School.

Lincoln High School

Linda Tame has discovered the power of teacher learning. The staff and the students realise that learning at Lincoln High School is changing.

Malcolm Dixon, Frimley School.

Frimley School

Malcolm Dixon shares his ideas for building a culture of success through teacher professional growth and digital technologies.

Maureen Kerr, St Patrick's School, Kaiapoi.

St Patrick's School, Kaiapoi

Maureen Kerr discusses changing from management to professional leadership.

Merryn Muir, Selwyn Ridge School.

Selwyn Ridge School

Merryn Muir discusses developing the culture in a new school.

Mike Sutton, Nawton School.

Nawton School

Noema Williams, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe.

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe

Noema Williams discusses building on a whānau/marae model.

Shona Oliver, Ashhurst School.

Ashhurst School

Shona Oliver discusses leading people and building community relationships.

Other resources

Exploring School Culture

by Jane Turner and Carolyn Crang

This article describes an interactive seminar on school culture held for educational professionals and parents.

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School Culture

by Louise Stoll

In this article, Louise Stoll explores the relationship between school culture and school improvement.

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Culture shift doesn’t occur overnight

by Rick DuFour

In this commentary, Rick DuFour examines an area currently under close scrutiny in New Zealand: the impact that teacher practices have on student learning. He asks, “What happens in our schools when, despite our best efforts in the classroom, a student does not learn?”

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Best Practice: A Technocrat’s Dream!

by Dean Fink

This article looks at creating school leaders. The author argues that lists for “best practice” to measure school leaders against does not equate to successful leadership. The only kind of practice that principals need to concern themselves with is the kind that contributes to and enhances students learning.

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The ethical development of school principals

by Neil Dempster

In this conference paper, Neil Dempster suggests there is a relationship between the contemporary political climate of school leadership and an increase in ethical dilemmas faced by principals. This link also takes you to a number of other papers that focus on ethics and leadership.

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Improving relationships within the schoolhouse

by Roland Barth

This article is a very readable comment on the importance of quality professional relationships among the adults within a school. Roland Barth has considerable experience as a principal and as someone who mentors principals in a leadership programme.

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Leading Learning and Teaching Primary Schools

by Geoff Southworth

In this article, Geoff Southworth draws on research findings, inspection evidence, and first-hand experience to describe four strands that, woven together, seem to form the thread of leadership and leading "learning and teaching" schools.

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