You have to start somewhere: Designing, tailoring and tinkering. A reflection on leading a change process


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Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice

New Zealand Educational Administration and Leadership Society

Subject: Education


ISSN: 1178-8690





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Volume 33 (2018)
Volume 32 (2017)
Volume 30 (2015)
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VOLUME 32 , ISSUE 1 (June 2017) > List of articles

You have to start somewhere: Designing, tailoring and tinkering. A reflection on leading a change process

Christine Harris / Chris Panter

Keywords : Leading change; flexible learning; change drivers; teaching practices; physical spaces; pedagogy; future focus; mind sets

Citation Information : Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice. Volume 32, Issue 1, Pages 125-132, DOI:

License : (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Published Online: 09-June-2019



This story of leading change is written by the Principal and Deputy Principal of Thorrington School in Christchurch where the leadership focus has been to shift curriculum design and teaching practices to be more responsive to the needs of learners.  The article considers the shift in the practices of twenty teachers over a three-year time frame. The school does not have purpose built Modern Learning Spaces / Environments (referred to as flexible learning spaces in this article) so considerations for moving towards flexible learning had to start with changing mindsets and pedagogy. Initially there was a group of early up takers from amongst the staff who adapted their classrooms, furniture and processes to implement a change in practice. Although other teachers in the school recognised the success of this team the impetus to change practice across the whole school was largely rhetoric. Over time school wide resultant change was an amalgam of purpose, support, and development of new skills and strategies. Various drivers for change were recognised as being helpful for some teachers but not for others.  Changes in teachers’ mindsets happened independently of each other and at different times for different people but together they eventually combined to change the attitudes and behaviours of teachers towards flexible learning practices. Although student achievement data is improving in all areas across the school this article does not track the trajectory of student data for consideration nor does this article address the community consultation process that occurred alongside this journey.

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