Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Dr. Sean Kearney

Second Supervisor

Dr. Thuan Thai


This research provides an investigative analysis of the impact of a large-scale change process involving the amalgamation of two long-standing Catholic schools in a capital city of Australia. The study explores how a change process impacted staff, student and parent stakeholders within the initial year of a school amalgamation by examining Catholic school life and culture, student learning and wellbeing, the physical learning environment, and leadership and administration. The objective is to better understand the process and the impact of the change that took place during the amalgamation, in order to further inform the planning and leading of future Catholic school amalgamations and associated processes, both in terms of student learning outcomes and student self-efficacy. Emerging from a pragmatic worldview, this study captures an insider view of a school amalgamation in detailing the outcomes of actions in reviewing the overall impact of a social phenomenon.

This mixed-methods single case study used an online survey instrument to gather the participants’ perspectives on the various aspects of the amalgamation, with their experiences analysed concurrently within a document review process. The study’s emerging themes were then viewed through the lens of Kotter’s eight-step change framework for further synthesis. Despite the challenging and problematic nature of whole-school reform, and the recognition from all stakeholders of the ongoing need to continue building a combined and fully integrated school learning culture, the study provides evidence of the goodwill that existed within the school community bound by this case study and their commitment to a merged school entity.

Findings from the study reinforce the importance of honouring the charism of the original school founders within the process of developing an explicit Catholic school learning culture; 2 and how a whole-school focus on student learning and wellbeing within the newly amalgamated College was affirmed by staff, students, and parents. The physical learning environment is also presented as a necessary vehicle in contributing to the educational change process within this case study. The findings present the need to consider a collective form of leadership and are reflected in a proposed conceptual model, promoting a theory to inform future potential Catholic school amalgamations in Australia.

This study serves to highlight the challenging complexities that occur as a result of a school amalgamation and the pressures placed on leaders charged with the responsibility of navigating a large-scale initiative within their unique context. The study concludes by making recommendations to safeguard a Catholic school community’s ethos during large-scale reform. This research is significant in this field as it provides a practical understanding of the barriers and opportunities within the nature of school organisational change.