School Principals’ Interactions with Remote Indigenous Communities: A Trajectory of Encounters

Marisa Kelly, Simon Clarke, Helen Wildy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is based on an interpretivist study that sought to understand the day-today experiences of school principals in remote, Indigenous communities. For this purpose,comparative case studies were employed to investigate the professional practices of three non-local, non-Indigenous principals. Data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews,informal, non-participant observation and document analysis, and presented as narratives. Five themes were generated from the data analysis: ‘encountering uncertainty’, ‘heightening sensitivity’, ‘developing confidence’, ‘tolerating ambiguity’ and ‘strengthening professional identity’. Collectively, the themes portray the trajectory of how these principals understand, adapt and respond to the context of remote, Indigenous community schools. The study confirms that schools in such contexts generate highly unconventional leadership circumstances attributable to a complex interrelationship of idiosyncratic factors. Consideration is given to implications of the study’s outcomes for policy, practice, and future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-50
Number of pages17
JournalLeading & Managing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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