Principal’s perspectives on improving the quality of schools for students with complex needs

Megan Adams, Rebecca Cooper, Angela Fitzgerald, Sindu George, Richard Gunstone

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Meeting the learning needs of all youth is a challenging endeavour, particularly with the rise in number of students with mental health concerns. In Australia, there is a growing need for school leadership to provide alternate educational pathways for such students, pathways that prioritise building reciprocal teacher/student relationships, before focusing on academic achievements. Drawing on Edwards’ (2010;2017) theoretical concepts of ‘relational expertise’, ‘common knowledge’ and ‘relational agency’, we report on data generated from a focus group with eight Principals leading schools that work with diverse cohorts of disengaged students. Analysis identified the challenges, barriers and the opportunities available to improve the learning of students with complex needs. We argue that the Principals face significant demands, particularly with staff recruitment and retention, as teachers are required to balance learning/teaching and welfare, and involve parents and external support services. Collectively these impact on student achievement in different ways than in mainstream schools.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2021
    EventTeacher Quality and School Improvement: Beijing Normal University, Durham University and Monash University Joint Online Conference 2021 - Virtual, Online
    Duration: 22 Feb 202125 Feb 2021


    ConferenceTeacher Quality and School Improvement
    CityVirtual, Online
    Internet address


    • Student needs
    • Disengagement
    • School improvement
    • Leadership,

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