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A qualitative research approach was used to examine how one vocational education and training (VET) school in rural Australia contributed to its community and the complex role of leadership in the process. The study focused on the VET in Schools program in Cooktown in Far North Queensland. The following data collection activities were conducted: (1) semi-structured interviews with purposively selected students, school staff, parents and other community members, and representatives of industry and community groups; (2) researchers' observation; and (3) a review of written documentation. The initiative for the VET in Schools program came from two teachers at Cooktown State School who were concerned with the failure of the mainstream curriculum to cater to certain students. The program was developed through a school-community partnership that was formalized by formation of a management committee comprising representatives of all stakeholder groups in the community. The project has resulted in increased in student attendance and retention rates and has enabled students to identify their place in and value to the community. The program's success was attributed to a leadership process focusing on extensive consultation with stakeholders and a willingness to take risks by pushing traditional boundaries of government policy and practice. (Contains 25 references.) (MN)

Descriptors: Case Studies, Dropout Prevention, Educational Improvement, Foreign Countries, Indigenous Populations, Leadership, Outcomes of Education, Partnerships in Education, Postsecondary Education, Program Effectiveness, Rural Areas, Rural Education, School Community Programs, School Community Relationship, School Effectiveness, School Holding Power, Secondary Education, Social Networks, Success, Vocational Education

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Autor: Johns, Susan; Kilpatrick, Sue; Mulford, Bill; Falk, Ian


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