Breakout Session 7 - 17th September at 2:45 - 3:25

The importance of leadership attitudes and actions in supporting teachers to build and sustain inclusive school contexts in the face of increasing diversity

Presenter/s: Christine Harris
Type: Research paper
Keywords: Diversity; inclusive practice; relationships
Room: Auaha Hīhī


The wide-ranging impact of increasing diversity in our mainstream learning spaces and classrooms justifies the need for schools to be better equipped to support equitable outcomes for all learners. A sociocultural approach examines the theory and practice of relationship-based teaching as a way to cater for the diverse social and cultural influences that shape students’ learning approaches. The session explores the important roles that school leaders have in explicitly supporting teachers to foster more inclusive learning cultures in their schools by acknowledging the social and cultural influences that shape learning approaches.

This session builds on from PhD research which found that parents want opportunities to engage in their children’s schooling but they are often unsure about ways to do this (Harris, 2021). The session examines ways that school structures can better support parents to take a more participatory role in their children’s schooling.

The need for system-level change within schools is considered, along with teacher pre-service education and state resourcing priorities. This is framed optimistically as a way forward, to enhance the potential and capacity for every student and their family to learn through participatory relationships of care and shared responsibilities.


Christine Harris

Christine has had over thirty years of school leadership experience and has recently left principalship to work in an educational evaluation role. Her research interests include school and community partnership, community well-being and school culture. Christine completed her PhD through Deakin University in 2021 which was a culmination of her leadership experience and her interest in sociology. Her thesis ‘What Influences Parents to Engage in their Children’s Schooling?’ has prompted further inquiry in the field of school-parent partnership. Christine lives and works in Christchurch New Zealand with her husband and two Tonkinese cats who rule the household.