How the Principals of New Zealand Catholic Secondary Schools Understand and Implement Special Character

Siân Owen
The purpose of this study is to explore how Catholic education authorities guarantee the Special Character of New Zealand Catholic schools. Since principals hold primary responsibilities in demonstrating evidence of Special Character of the Catholic school, this study particularly explores how secondary school principals fulfil this responsibility. New Zealand Catholic schools are State integrated schools under the 1975 Private Schools Conditional Integration Act (PSCIA). This Act enabled
more » ... e schools to be fully government funded, while continuing to maintain and enhance their Special Character. Special Character is important to the Catholic Church because it enables its schools to offer an authentic Catholic education as a State funded school. They are State schools with a Special Character The following specific research questions were generated from the Literature Review to focus the study: 1. What do principals understand by the term Special Character? 2. How do principals implement Special Character in their schools? 3. How do Catholic education authorities understand the role of the Catholic school in mission? An epistemological framework of constructionism underpins this study as it explores the meaning constructed through the experiences of principals. An interpretivist design is adopted, with Symbolic Interactionism providing the particular interpretivist lens. Case study is the methodology chosen to orchestrate the data gathering strategies. The strategies utilised are focus groups, semi-structured interviews and questionnaire. There were 31 participants in the study: 20 principals and 11 members of the National Catholic Special Character review group. The research generates six conclusions that contribute to new knowledge about the Special Character of Catholic schools. First, New Zealand Catholic schools operate in a pluralistic society where the Christian Worldview no longer prevails. This influences the traditional school-family-Church relationships. This lack of clarity of relationships impacts [...]
doi:10.26199/5b8de547f6968 fatcat:vwhpm2ts6fhebkpstbo7af3opy