Richard Niesche

Richard Niesche
UNSW Sydney | UNSW · School of Education

PhD MEd (Leadership) Grad Dip Ed Dip Music BA

About

70
Publications
23,977
Reads
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704
Citations
Citations since 2016
32 Research Items
528 Citations
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Introduction
I am an Associate Professor in Educational Leadership in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. My research interests include educational leadership, the principalship and social justice. In particular, I use critical perspectives in educational leadership to examine the work of school principals in disadvantaged schools and how they can work towards achieving more socially just outcomes.
Additional affiliations
October 2013 - present
UNSW Sydney
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2011 - October 2013
The University of Queensland
Position
  • PostDoc Position
December 2008 - January 2011
Griffith University
Position
  • Research Associate

Publications

Publications (70)
Article
Full-text available
The field of educational leadership is very much dominated by studies of process. That is, discourses of best practice, effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, and so on, dominate the landscape. This then feeds into those working in schools in leadership positions and leadership teams coming to value style over substance. Whether a leader is wor...
Article
In response to the diverse deployments of ‘school autonomy’ in interviews with education stakeholders, we use material semiotics and the concept of ontological politics to theorize school autonomy as ontologically multiple. We analyze interviews conducted in Australia with forty-two school education stakeholders drawn from principal, parent and tea...
Article
A persuasive solution for governments and systemic authorities seeking to improve the quality and equity of outcomes for students has been the localized management of schools. Believed to provide opportunities for context-sensitive decision-making, what remains unclear is how does shifting increasing management to the school-level generate the type...
Article
Neoliberal policies promoting school autonomy reform in Australia and internationally have, over three decades, appropriated earlier social democratic discourses of parental participation and partnership in school governance. Recent school autonomy reforms have repositioned school council/boards within a narrow frame of accountability and managemen...
Chapter
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[Headings, introductions, abstracts, forwards, preliminaries distort the temporality of the presented as it occurs, without preface, defacing.]
Article
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This paper examines principals’ perceptions of school autonomy and leadership as part of a 3-year research project looking at the implications of school autonomy on social justice across four states of Australia (Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland). Drawing on interviews with principals and representatives from principal st...
Article
This paper provides an overview of the policies of school autonomy in Australian public education from the Karmel report in 1973 to the present day. The key focus is on the social justice implications of this reform. It tracks the tensions between policy moves to both grant schools greater autonomy and rein in this autonomy with the increasing inst...
Article
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There remains strong political support for school autonomy reform within Australian public education despite evidence linking this reform to exacerbating school and systemic inequities. This paper presents interview data from key education stakeholders gathered from a broader study that is investigating the social justice implications of school aut...
Article
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The current COVID19 pandemic has forced major adjustments, often at short notice, on schools and schooling. Educators have been working in a constantly changing environment to continue to deliver for students, families and communities all the while maintaining the necessary supports for themselves and colleagues. In Australia this has led to debate...
Article
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School autonomy policies have circulated through various modes of educational governance internationally, endorsing the view that more autonomy will improve schools and their systems. When subject to the discourses and practices of marketization, however, school ‘autonomy’ has been mobilized in ways that generate injustice. These injustices are the...
Book
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Es recurrente la afirmación de que el liderazgo directivo no solo es el segundo factor intraescolar de mayor significación para la mejora de la calidad educativa, sino también de que su efecto sería mayor en los establecimientos escolares de alta complejidad sociocultural. sin embargo, dicha constatación empírica no suele ir acompañada de explicaci...
Chapter
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This chapter examines the key ideas of Michel Foucault. Foucault’s work is used to highlight a number of prescient issues in education and educational leadership, namely, how discourse works in the creation of particular norms and truths that function in the field of educational leadership. The chapter begins by situating this work in relation to p...
Chapter
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In this final chapter, we bring together a number of themes from previous chapters and provide some comments and thoughts regarding the relationship of these ideas to each other. We also take some space to explore the role of theory in education and educational leadership research along with some critiques and criticisms of the ideas presented thro...
Chapter
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This chapter provides the rationale for the book and why it is important to consider a range of theoretical approaches to the study of educational leadership. The book sets out to build on previous critical traditions but also draws on a different set of theoretical resources to generate new and different ways of understanding educational leadershi...
Chapter
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This chapter examines the work of Judith Butler. In this chapter we attempt to unpack the key ideas in Butler’s work. Butler’s work is dense, so the aim of this chapter is to make her ideas as accessible as possible. We explore Butler’s concepts of intelligibility, performativity, causal reversal and performative resignification. All of these conce...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter presents the argument that there is a new phase or ‘theory turn’ in the field of educational leadership. These more critical perspectives in the field of educational leadership have typically been marginalised by the larger body of orthodox approaches due to a perceived lack of focus on best practice and ‘what works’ discourses, and es...
Chapter
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This chapter introduces the work and ideas of philosopher Bernard Stiegler and articulates how they might be useful in educational leadership scholarship. The chapter introduces these ideas through an examination of key books and book series before shifting the focus more explicitly to education and educational leadership. The chapter provides a ra...
Chapter
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This chapter introduces the work of Karen Barad. Karen Barad can be categorised as belonging to the new materialist and posthumanist paradigms, although we explain at the front of the chapter why she is perhaps better understood within post-anthropocentric thinking. Like Butler, Barad draws from an eclectic range of scholars and reworks their ideas...
Article
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The public education systems of many countries have undergone governance reforms involving administrative decentralisation, corporatisation and community ‘empowerment’. In this paper, we examine the significance of local participation and partnerships in the context of public school autonomy and their corporatisation. Focusing specifically on the u...
Article
Drawing on the aesthetic theory of Jacques Rancière and the Lacanian conception of lack, this paper offers an intervention into the notion of subjectivity which can be applied in critical studies of education. Critiquing the progressive and knowledge-oriented ideology of neoliberal systems, Rancière depicts a world in which politics turns out to de...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, I argue that we are witnessing a new phase or ‘theory turn’ in the field of educational leadership. These more critical perspectives in the field of educational leadership have typically been marginalised by the larger body of orthodox approaches due to a perceived lack of focus on best practice and ‘what works’ discourses, and esp...
Article
Full-text available
Drawing on the aesthetic theory of Jacques Rancière and the Lacanian conception of lack, this paper offers an intervention into the notion of subjectivity which can be applied in critical studies of education. Critiquing the progressive and knowledge-oriented ideology of neoliberal systems, Rancière depicts a world in which politics turns out to de...
Chapter
Some schools and their principals are lauded, feted and rewarded, while others are criticized, pressurized, and closed down. This chapter considers the kind of school system that produces extremes. It examines the school systems in two locations, England and Australia, and shows how the same logics and many of the same discursive practices are at w...
Book
Issues of social justice and equity in the field of educational leadership have become more salient in recent years. The unprecedented diversity, uncertainty and rapid social change of the contemporary global era are generating new and unfamiliar equity questions and challenges for schools and their leaders. In order to understand the moral and eth...
Article
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Post-structuralist discourses have usually been associated with forms of critique and deconstruction of social, cultural and philosophical phenomena. However, this article attempts to provide a generative approach to understanding educational leadership through Michel Foucault’s notions of power and subjectification, and Judith Butler’s notions of...
Article
This paper explores the tensions and complexities for two principals as they work towards equity and improved social and educational outcomes for their Indigenous students. Drawing on Foucault’s fourfold ethical frame and poststructuralist notions of the subject, this paper presents the different ways the white female principals of Indigenous schoo...
Article
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The issue of emotions in school leadership is one that has received increasing attention in recent years. In this paper we present a case study of the emotional demands upon one principal as she undertakes a programme of school reform. This case study works against the common discourse of ‘emotional maturity’ inherent in an individual that is preva...
Article
This chapter investigates the tensions inherent in the work of principals of remote Indigenous community schools. These tensions involve issues of role discontinuity whereby principals feel overwhelmed by managerial, administrative and community responsibilities to the extent that issues of curriculum, pedagogy and the development of professional l...
Article
The most critical factor in the provision of quality learning is the teacher (Hayes, Mills, Christie, & Lingard, Teachers and schooling: Making a difference. Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, 2006). In the remote Aboriginal schools of the Kimberley, many of the teachers are new or recent graduates. These teachers are generally vibrant and enthusiastic,...
Book
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Jacques Derrida and Jean-François Lyotard constitute two of the most notable figures of poststructuralist thought and philosophy of the postmodern period. Both worked to reveal instabilities and uncertainty, and to destabilise assumptions and self-evident traditions for the purposes of reflection, creativity and innovative thinking. This significan...
Article
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The introduction of new accountabilities and techniques of government for the purposes of educational reform have created new complexities and tensions for school leadership. Policies such as the publishing of league tables in the UK, high stakes testing in the US and the introduction of the My School website in Australia are particularly significa...
Article
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Globally, a range of new schooling accountabilities have created a complex and often contradictory context in which school leaders work. For principals of low socio-economic status (SES) and disadvantaged schools, they must balance the accountability, performance and reporting requirements against the other needs of their communities. These tension...
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Drawing on a broader study that focused on examining principal leadership for equity and diversity, this paper presents the leadership experiences of ‘Jane’, a White, middle-class principal of a rural Indigenous school. The paper highlights how Jane's leadership is inextricably shaped by her assumptions about race and the political dynamics and his...
Article
In this paper, the focus is on how a group of Australian educators support student equity through cultural recognition. Young’s theorising of justice is drawn on to illuminate the problematic impacts arising from the group’s efforts to value students’ cultural difference associated, for example, with quantifying justice along distributive lines and...
Article
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This paper presents a case for the importance of an application of Jean-Francois Lyotard’s ideas to the analysis of educational leadership. Through exploring Lyotard’s concepts of language games, the differend and performativity, this paper argues that the approach taken through the development of leadership standards cannot capture the messy, comp...
Book
Full-text available
School principals are increasingly working in an environment of work intensification, high stakes testing, accountability pressures and increased managerialism. Rather than searching for the latest leadership fad or best practice model, this book suggests that in order to better understand these pressures, the work of educational leadership require...
Article
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This article documents the leadership practices within one secondary school in Queensland, Australia that uses equity as a central philosophy. Drawing on specific elements of productive leadership as defined by Hayes et al., the article draws attention to how the school's common equity agenda, its supportive social relations, and its dispersed lead...
Article
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The aim of this paper is to illustrate how principal subjectivities are constructed by particular normalizing processes that occur through the disciplinary power of grants and submission writing. An increasing part of the principal's job, under moves towards self-governing schools, is a reliance of grants and submissions in order to obtain funding....
Article
This paper provides examples of how a teacher and a principal construct their ‘ethical selves’. In doing so we demonstrate how Foucault's four-part ethical framework can be a scaffold with which to actively connect emotions to a personal ethical position. We argue that ethical work is and should be an ongoing and dynamic life long process rather th...
Article
The poor performance of Australian Indigenous students in mathematics is a complex and enduring issue that needs a range of strategies to enable success in schooling for these students. Importantly, large numbers of teachers in remote Indigenous contexts are new graduates who, although full of enthusiasm, lack experience. Similarly, many of them ar...
Article
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to report on research into the challenges for leadership in implementation of a new curriculum in a remote region of Queensland, Australia. Design/methodology/approach – Data for the research were gathered through an online survey and semi‐structured interviews with teachers and principals involved in the ref...
Article
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In remote Aboriginal communities, there are many challenges that confront educators, not the least of which is leadership that challenges the status quo and moves Aboriginal communities forward in their access to, and engagement with, the mathematics school curriculum. This paper draws on data from the Maths in the Kimberley (MiTK) project where th...
Article
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The poor mathematical achievement of remote Indigenous students continues to be a significant educational issue. The Maths in the Kimberley project seeks to implement an innovative pedagogical reform in six remote Indigenous schools to explore reforms that may lead to improved outcomes for Indigenous students in mathematics. This paper reports on t...
Article
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Reforming schools is a challenging aspect of contemporary education. The role of leadership within reform agendas is critical. This article presents a case study of one school that has been highly successful in the implementation of this reform. The processes employed by the school at various levels demonstrate the ways in which effective leadershi...
Article
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In this symposium, I argue that the use of home language needs to be viewed as a valuable resource for teachers in Indigenous schools in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. For students to be able to negotiate meaning and mathematical concepts in Kriol can help facilitate their mathematical learning as well as demonstrate an explicit valuing...
Article
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With Australia performing so poorly in terms of equity in mathematical achievement on the PISA scores, there is an increasing recognition for practices that may stem the inequities in education in this country. This paper explores an approach that has been found to be highly successful in the United States and links it to current issues in Australi...
Article
A new project is underway to improve mathematical learning by Indigenous students in Western Australia's east Kimberley region. Six schools are taking part, all based in self-governing Indigenous communities. The project uses a learning model that was developed by Stanford University for use with disadvantaged low-performing students in the USA ada...
Article
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The Mathematics in the Kimberley Project is a three-year research and development project that focuses on mathematical pedagogy in remote Aboriginal community schools. The research team has regularly reported on the project at MERGA conferences, and in this symposium we evaluate the pedagogical model that underpins the project. After two years of t...
Article
Processes of exclusion operate to disadvantage students along social class, race and gender lines. For students from backgrounds that are not part of the success regime, significant scaffolding by teachers is needed if they are to be successful. In this paper we discuss two key factors that shape the learning environments for learning mathematics....
Article
Full-text available
An enduring issue for education in Australia is the poor performance of Indigenous students in mathematics. This is more pronounced in remote locations where many of the teachers are new graduates who are enthusiastic but lack experience and are unfamiliar with the complexities of teaching in remote and/or Indigenous contexts. This paper discusses...
Article
The aim of this paper is to illustrate how principal subjectivities are constructed by particular normalizing processes that occur through the disciplinary power of grants and submission writing. An increasing part of the principal's job, under moves towards self-governing schools, is a reliance of grants and submissions in order to obtain funding....

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