Managing diversity to achieve ethnic inclusion in multi-ethnic secondary schools

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Handjani, Manjula
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Cardno, Carol
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
multi-ethnic inclusion
secondary schools
South Auckland (N.Z.)
equity policy
multicultural education
New Zealand
Handjani, M. (2014). Managing diversity to achieve ethnic inclusion in multi-ethnic secondary schools. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
This research is set in the context of New Zealand and specifically in Auckland secondary schools which are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity. Leaders in these schools face challenges to manage diversity to achieve inclusion of a diverse range of ethnically-related values, cultures and expectations. Many international studies advocate for the introduction of ethnically inclusive practices because these support student success. In the absence of any specific studies of ethnically inclusive practices in New Zealand schools, this thesis attempts to close a gap in the literature.This research uses a qualitative approach in two case studies of multi-ethnic state secondary schools in South Auckland. Across the two case studies, data were collected using semi-structured interviews of senior leaders. Documentary analysis of school charter and equity policies was carried out to gain an understanding of the intent of managing ethnic diversity The findings of the study revealed the leaders valued ethnic diversity and were committed to improving the academic achievement of all students by using inclusive practices that could impact on student success. On the other hand, the study revealed that inclusive practices where not evident to any large extent compared to what the literature establishes as effective practice. The majority of these practices focused on Maori and Pasifika students with other ethnic groups generally excluded. Minor ethnic groups were recognised in practices such as promoting student leadership and sporting activities in a few instances. Leaders’ attempts to increase inclusive strategies were challenged by difficulties such as understanding of the concepts of ethnic inclusion, cultures of ethnic groups apart from Pasifika and Maori, recruiting ethnically representative staff and low levels of parental involvement. The study recommends that leaders develop a more clear understanding of the ethnically inclusive practices and promote open dialogue about the needs of ethnic groups beyond the current focus on Maori and Pasifika initiatives. A further recommendation is that curriculum leaders provide teachers with professional development in the understanding of cultures of all ethnic groups.
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