Forming school identities in the context of increasing community diversity
If identity is culturally constructed, then the context in which it develops impacts on its stability during a time of social change.Within Aotearoa/New Zealand, communities are experiencing multiple forms of change due to the repercussions of political, economic and social policies. A further significant transformation is that of the ethnic composition of communities, instantiated by the Auckland metropolis. While communities are evaluating levels of social and economic sustainability, principals within secondary schools are also grappling with a school character that is dynamic, complex and challenging. It is within such school communities that benefit is gained from proactive leadership strategies that facilitate social cohesion. Conceptually, if identity relates to both the ‘internal experience of place and external participation in world and society’ (Cockburn, 1983, p. 1) then school identity should provide an inclusive environment whereby students can belong to the school while retaining their own sense of cultural self. This paper refers to the research findings of an international study, to show that while deliberate practices can draw together diverse groups to achieve social inclusion, tension exists when the focus is not fully multi-dimensional.