Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

School governance: phases, participation and paradoxes

Payne, Lesley Irene (2004) School governance: phases, participation and paradoxes. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Front Pages
Download (154kB)
PDF - Whole Thesis
Download (4MB)


This research analyses the governance structures and processes of thirteen independent primary schools in Perth, and one state primary school in Western Australia termed an 'alternative' or 'lighthouse' school. More in-depth case studies were undertaken at five sites with participants from different time periods. All the schools had a school council or board since their foundations and notably all schools had their origins in the period of the alternative school and community empowerment movement of the 1970s and 1980s.

In an era of market reform and the corporatisation of schools, the critical areas of focus for this research were: how community expectations and school identity were maintained within council-governed schools; how democratic imperatives compete with professionalism and school improvement issues; and how schools confront dilemmas of governance. Three frameworks, Phases of Development, Community Empowerment and Dilemmas, were employed as useful means to discuss school governance. The results revealed changes in governance over time. Schools began to envisage themselves less as communities and more as businesses. The emphasis was away from parent involvement and towards efficiency and commercial practices. Tensions and dilemmas arose out of these changes.

The thesis concluded that it was not the structures or individuals that were crucial in governance processes but the playing out of particular tensions and dilemmas. Principals and councils have to acknowledge the dilemmas that arise from competing values systems and make choices based on a clear understanding of these dilemmas.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Supervisor(s): Bell, James
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year