An exploratory study of NSW principals' actions and perceptions in relation to 21st Century education
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 02:35 authored by David James Andrew Cole
Education today stands at a cross roads. There is a growing pressure on schools to reform towards a vision of 21st Century Education, with key education stakeholders demanding a radical re-envisioning of schooling to meet the needs of dynamic and ever-changing world. Yet Australian schools also exist within a neoliberal culture of external surveillance and accountability which narrow the curriculum towards a focus on performance in standardised testing in an unprecedented era of global school competition. With dozens of competing models and variations of 21st Century Education emerging over the past 20 years, significant ambiguity exists around the concept. This poses a difficulty for schools as they seek to interpret and apply the concept of 21st Century Education into their unique contexts. This is compounded further by the lack of significant research in the area, given that it is emergent best practice. Principals are therefore in a place of key tension. With competing demands for school improvement and reform, principals must determine if and how they approach the concept of 21st Century Education. This study therefore explores, through interviews and observations, how three principals in NSW, Australia are interpreting the concept and then leading school reform within their local contexts. Analysis extends to include the leadership styles and change management processes that are enacted. Similarities and differences between the case studies are identified and the implications discussed.