Contestations, innovation and change : a case study of a new Western Australian secondary school
This thesis is a case study of the policy contestations associated with the establishment of a new Western Australian government secondary school. State politicians and bureaucrats promoted the school, Ballajura Community College, as fa school for the twenty-first century'. The school opened in 1995 and incorporated the State's first middle school, representing a significant change to the hitherto existing secondary school structure. The thesis provides information on how agents associated with the establishment of a new school navigated the multiple policy agendas against shifting social and political changes. At the time of opening the school the Western Australian government was committed to expanding devolution in schools. This thesis examines how key aspects of the devolution agenda impacted on the planning and establishment of Ballajura Community College. The research provides an 'insider's perspective' of Foundation Principal and utilises a combination of methods including social semiotics, critical discourse analysis and autobiography. Data collection included documentary evidence, interviews with senior policy makers and autobiographical data. While educational research and theory suggests that there is an urgent need to envision new futures for schooling in the twenty-first century, this same research often simplifies the process and does not attend to the multiplicity of variables. This investigation concludes that the design, structure, curriculum development and operation of a new secondary school, in a highly centralised system, is intimately linked to the broader socio-political context and established traditions and practices. This thesis extends the debate on research into school change. It demonstrates that the processes of innovation and change can be neither formulaic nor prescriptive. It raises questions relating to the methods, authority and effects of educational research and argues that educational research for the twenty-first century must broaden its scope to incorporate and legitimise the voice and authority of school leaders and teachers.