Explores the challenges faced by principals of one‐teacher schools in the New South Wales Department of School Education as they attempt to implement departmental policy changes during a time of unprecedented structural and organisational change. It examines the substantial international transformations which have taken place in the public sector over the last two decades and their influence on state education in Australia. Highlights the changing relationships between the principals of small schools and senior managers of the department. The study found that over a period of five years the approach to change employed by senior management to have principals implement departmental policy changes altered significantly from an authoritarian approach to one of involvement and partnership.
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