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Exploring school adaptations to the challenges of educating in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic

Sephton, Andrew Mark (2022) Exploring school adaptations to the challenges of educating in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Whole Thesis
Embargoed until June 2023.


The COVID-19 pandemic provided a world-wide opportunity for educators and educational structures to be evaluated (Margolis, 2020; McLeod & Dulsky, 2021). The demands placed on both schools and their communities to suddenly switch to a remote learning mode, revealed that many challenges, both procedural and relational, were associated with such a move (Lorenc et al., 2021).

This qualitative descriptive case study explored how a school procedurally and relationally responded to the challenges of educating during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Two cohorts (leaders and teachers) of a school community were sampled via semi-structured interviews to establish the depth and diversity of perspectives and experiences. Teachers and leaders who participated in the interviews described a mixture of procedural and relational foci in their educational responses they used to instil a sense of familiarity with their students and parents and with each other. Challenges described within these responses revolved around themes of communication, leadership decision making and resourcing during the crisis, with all participants noting aspects of time pressure and fatigue as extenuating factors.

This study’s findings indicated that the disruption of COVID-19 to traditional educational community structures allowed for a shift in procedural and relational responses by the school community. Educational leaders in the case study school were given a chance to reshape their institution into a more reflexive community and model new practice architectures that would be relevant to future crises in their particular situation. This study also proposes a conceptual framework that elevates teacher agency in decision-making protocols as well as provide new insights for universities, education departments, professional authorities and schools that are endeavouring to assist their communities during times of educational crisis.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
Supervisor(s): Dempsey, Helen and Rappa, Natasha
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