New School Establishment and Innovation: Perspectives of Western Australian Government High School Leadership Teams

Tom Jones

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemerapeer-review


“New schools are unique, and the establishment period's events, processes and products are quite distinct from any other stage of a school’s life. The distinction is based purely on the reality that the time of establishment will never occur again. During this time, the possibilities of educational innovations seem infinite.”

Fink, D. (2000). Good schools/real schools: Why school reform doesn't last. Teachers College Press.

This study aims to generate theory from the perspectives of four Western Australian Government high school leadership teams on how they engage with innovation in the context of establishing a new school. When the Western Australian Government announces the building of a new school, in almost all cases, their media statements describe the school as innovative or state-of-the-art. Meanwhile, Principals must connect their practice to the AITSL Principal Standard and lead and manage innovation and change to ensure the vision and strategic plan are put into action across the school. Despite the evident forces at play that encourage innovative practice; the review of the literature reveals the Government high school leaders receive little system guidance to assist in establishing their new school or how they might lead innovation. Furthermore, the literature presents a well-documented tendency for new schools that demonstrate state-of-the-art or innovative practices, to experience an ‘attrition of change’, start to regress toward the mean and shift back to conventional directions. Notably, there is a multitude of studies that explore how schools approach innovation internationally; however, a study of how Australian Government high school leaders engage with innovation in their new school is extremely limited in the research literature. In summary, the empirical context of this study is surprising and given the expectations that schools face delivering positive outcomes soon after their foundation, there is a call for various studies. This proposed study aims to understand the school leaders’ relationship with innovation and how innovation impacts their intentions, strategies and school outcomes as the school evolves in its early years. This interpretivist study will employ the qualitative data collection methods of structured and semi-structured interviews; and document analysis. Grounded theory methods of data analysis will generate theory. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications that may be drawn from the generated theoretical and empirical insights for policy and practice, as well as for future research endeavours.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2022
EventThe UWA Fogarty Foundation Research Forum 2022 - University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Duration: 2 Dec 20222 Dec 2022


ForumThe UWA Fogarty Foundation Research Forum 2022
Internet address


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