School trust
: situated to maximise school improvement, a case study of a primary school

  • Jennifer Helen Robinson

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This study aims to investigate a Northern Australian primary school’s working definition of trust, and how the community constructs trust, initially through the two-part research questions: What is trust? and How is trust constructed? Through the data analysis process, two research sub questions have emerged: What impact does trust have on leadership (and vice versa) in relation to learning and school improvement? and What impact do rights and obligations have on trust?

    Ethnographic techniques and a number of qualitative methods within a constructivist theoretical frame are used in the study design. Sixty semi-structured interviews formed the basis of the empirical data that were collected over a two year period from the single case study site. Students, parents, and staff afforded an in-depth perspective of the ways participants made decisions to trust or not to trust and how the school collectively constructed trust. Three phases of analyses—Thematic Analysis, Grounded Theory and Membership Categorisation Analysis—rendered significant findings for schools and the national improvement agenda.

    This study has identified Situated trust, Role trust, and School trust as tentative theory that directly informs school practice. Conclusions and the implications for policy, practice, and further research provide a start to operationalising these significant findings. The role of trust in all schools is widely recognised by academics, governments, administrators of education departments, and the general public as important. However, recognising this is only the beginning. Unless leaders do more than merely name trust in documents, there will be little change.
    Date of AwardSep 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorIan Falk (Supervisor), John Guenther (Supervisor) & Ruth Wallace (Supervisor)

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