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School Culture Expert Group

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I talked very briefly last night about how we define culture, which is also sometimes referred to as ethos and the climate of a school. 'Shaping School Culture - Deal & Peterson' identifies a few useful working definitions for us to refer to. Please see the extract below.


'Of the many different conceptions of culture, none a universally accepted as the best definition. One scholar defines culture as the web of significance in which we are all suspended (Greetz 1973). Others define it as a shared beliefs and values that closely knit a community together (Deal & Kennedy, 1982). Another suggests simply that culture is "the way we do things round here" (Bower 1966).

Schein (1985) provides a more comprehensive definition, calling it "a pattern of basic assumptions - invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with problems...that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems". He views shaping the culture as one of the most important things a leader must attend to.'


The last definition is rather grand, but I fully agree with his final statement! There is also reference to the complexity of school cultures and how they built over time through a variety of means.



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