26 SES 10 A, Leadership for Democratic Citizenship Part 1: Changing Contexts
This papers examines how schools and school leaders are working with diversity and difference in the changed contexts of Irish schools.The changed demographic in Irish society in the past 20 years coupled with the decline of the influence of the Catholic Church has challenged many of the taken for granted models of schooling that prevailed. While Ireland has arrived late to the culture of high stakes accountability; mandatory standardised testing, for instance, and the central collation of these results was only fully introduced in 2012, the pursuit of high academic standards has always impacted the school system in Ireland often creating a highly delineated system of chosen and unchosen schools. The paper focuses on how school leaders are shaping school experience with students in disadvantaged schools where the achievement of high academic standards is difficult. The manner in which the leaders in this study are working on the broader development of students, embedding many of the practices of democracy in the school community especially by widening students interests and experiences provides clear evidence of the continued importance of democracy and citizenship despite pressure to respond to more reductive and impoverishing policy imperatives.
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