A storyline of ideological change in a New Zealand primary school

David Giles

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – This article aims to report on the findings from a research project that explored a school’s changing ideological storyline with the appointment of a new Principal and the Board of Trustees’ intention to move towards a strengths-based approach to education. Following the school’s dialogue and decision-making over a three-year period enabled the identification of a range of competitive processes between the dominant and an emergent ideology within the school. Design/methodology/approach – Using an ideological framework proposed by Meighan et al. (2007), the research focussed on the development and maintenance of shared understandings within each ideology. For the purpose of this article, the participants have been limited to those in school governance, the school’s senior leadership team and some teachers across a three-year period. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews, online surveys and informal observations and analysed through interpretive and hermeneutic processes. Findings – The findings show the subtleties and nuances of two dominant and competing ideologies that represented different philosophies for education: a deficit discourse of progressive ideals and a strengths-based ideology of education. The existing and dominant ideology is challenged by the determination and moral purpose of the principal with the unanimous support from those in governance. In due process, the school emerged into a creative enterprise through the adoption of shared understandings that were underscored by a strengths-based ideology. Originality/value – It is incumbent upon school principals to notice the shifting organisational storylines within their schools and communities and act in a manner that realises the moral imperative of schooling for the students (Fullan, 2011). This article opens specific ideological processes that have appreciatively moved a school towards pedagogical excellence and a repurposing of the organisation for the students’ sake.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)320-332
    Number of pages13
    JournalInternational Journal of Organizational Analysis
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2015


    • Educational leadership
    • Ideological change
    • New Zealand
    • Organisational change
    • Organisational storyline
    • Strengths-based approaches


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