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School Culture: Comparative Analysis of Organizational Culture in Two Primary Schools in St. Lucia

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posted on 19.07.2011, 15:18 authored by Chryselda Caesar
This study explores school culture in two rural primary schools in St. Lucia Blossom and Peabright. The evidence suggests that the cultures of the two schools were distinctly different. Case study research used an interpretative paradigm to draw on data from interviews, observations and documents. The data was analysed to examine the schools' vision mission and goals, teachers' and principals' beliefs and expectations, and to assess the structure and practices, processes and strategies to understand how the two schools worked. This research revealed that the values captured in the vision and mission statements, the consensus on definite goals, and the shared beliefs and expectations at Peabright appear to function as the depository of what was held sacred 'high student achievement and performance' at the school. This guiding philosophy was the explicit covenant that seems to guide the collective practices, processes and strategies at Peabright. Blossom was guided by unwritten rules and shared beliefs and expectations but no explicit vision and mission statements, or goals. The shared beliefs and expectation of sport though not articulated as a guiding philosophy, provided a common identity and played an important role in the success that Blossom enjoyed through sports. Blossom was led by a principal who employed a mix of different styles in an environment plagued with an array of individualistic beliefs and varied practices except on students' innate athletic ability for sport, moral development of students, discipline and physical environment. The absence of community and parental support except for sporting events, the dissident teacher sub-cultures, perceived differences in political beliefs and affiliations between the principal and community were some of the contributory features of the school culture. Peabright was led clearly, by a forceful and focused leader who engaged a repertoire of leadership styles to keep the focus on a common purpose that underpinned the behavioural norms, which shaped the emergent school culture. Some of the features of that culture were high expectations, setting high standards, rigid social structure, emotional support system, dedicated and committed teachers and protection of the school environment. This study reflects on leadership styles and practices, teacher productivity and internal school culture. In addition, it draws attention to the way schools work within small rural communities in a developing world context.


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University of Leicester

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