Exploring the challenge of working in a small school and community: Uncovering hidden tensions

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this article is to analyse how teachers and principals experience their work in small rural schools and small communities, with a special focus on contextual issues in small environments. By visualising hidden tensions of social proximity within small contexts through visual maps, the findings both recognise and extend previous studies, and contribute to ‘theory for understanding and theory for improvement’ (Wildy and Clarke, 2010, p. 12). The visualisations may contribute to understanding the delicate balance within small social and cultural contexts, where different sides of the social reality balance against each other, like weights on a balance. This affects the teachers' work and different support needs, as well as relationships in the school and community. The hope is that multidimensional models may become heuristic tools for individual and collegial counselling for professional development, as well as providing inspiration for further investigation and development of small schools and small communities. This will help create sustainable long-term strategies to support equal and high-quality education for all children, irrespective of place or background.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293–305
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Issue number2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Professional development
  • School-community relations
  • Rural teachers and principals
  • Teachers' work in small schools
  • Teacher professional development
  • Social capital in small settings
  • Social and cultural environments
  • Small schools


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