Capacity building for school improvement: a case study of a New Zealand school
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Capacity building is now mentioned synonymously with school improvement in much of the literature with an absence of debate on the implications of political, social and economic trends. This article explores capacity building in one low decile, multicultural, New Zealand primary school. The research, positioned within an interpretivist paradigm, utilizes a case study and grounded theory approach to explore four aspects: 1. processes that enhance improvement; 2. internal and external influences on capacity building; 3. wider societal factors that influence the development of capacity; 4. links between capacity building and improvement. This article suggests that capacity building for school improvement is time and context dependent and is unique to setting. It occurs in response to individual, collective and systemic need in ways that sustain equilibrium while moving towards improvement. The paper explores key attributes of capacity building: vision; stakeholders as change agents; school culture; professional development. Practices that are examined include knowledge production and utilization; division of labor: roles and responsibilities; and a 'switching-on' mentality. These groups of factors lend themselves to a discussion of four important themes in the capacity building for school improvement process: situated activity; connectedness; leadership, governance and management; and outcomes. This article concludes that the confluence of the contributing factors enables tensions and needs of context to be managed in ways that ensure equilibrium of people, school and system while moving in the direction of improvement.