Legal Tensions in the Governance of Inclusion: Principals' Perspectives on Inclusion and the Law

Keeffe, Mary Bernice (2004) Legal Tensions in the Governance of Inclusion: Principals' Perspectives on Inclusion and the Law. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Disability discrimination is an ongoing problem in Australian schools. This study analyses the tension that exists between the requirements of the disability discrimination legislation and the way that principals make decisions about the inclusion of students with disabilities in Queensland state schools. The findings from the study suggest that principals believe the disability discrimination legislation is relevant but it is not helpful in providing a framework for discrimination-free decision-making. Instead, the democratic governance processes of inclusion and collaboration are identified as essential elements of the school principal's decision-making process if inclusive school cultures are to thrive and if discrimination is to be reduced or eliminated.

Habermas's critical theory of lifeworld and systems world provides the conceptual framework to analyse the complex lifeworld of the principal and the systemic requirements of the legislation. A lifeworld model of decision-making interactions within the inclusive school is proposed from the data collected in this study.

Data were collected using a mixed methodology in which 120 principals responded to surveys about their perspectives on inclusion. This was followed by a series of in-depth interviews with six principals who described their schools as inclusive. Focus groups also provided group perspectives and verified the data collected from the surveys and interviews. Together, the quantitative data and the qualitative information complement each other to provide comprehensive perspectives from principals about inclusion and the law.

Recommendations are made in the final chapters that propose a new legal paradigm for disability discrimination legislation so that the discordance between the systems world of the law and the lifeworld of the principal may be reduced. More specific policy and governance recommendations promote collaborative decision-making models to facilitate shared understandings about complex issues that relate to disability.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

717 since deposited on 03 Dec 2008
27 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 15976
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Stewart, Douglas & Cope, Robert
Keywords: Disability Discrimination Legislation, inclusion, democratic governance, collaboration, Human Rights, disabilities, Queensland state schools, discrimination-free decision-making, lifeworld, education, law.
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Department: Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Mary Bernice Keeffe
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:54
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2016 06:17

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page