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Future of the Principalship Three key issues Presentation for School Principals – April 2012 Nicholas Abbey, President, Victorian Council of School Organisations.

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Presentation on theme: "Future of the Principalship Three key issues Presentation for School Principals – April 2012 Nicholas Abbey, President, Victorian Council of School Organisations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Future of the Principalship Three key issues Presentation for School Principals – April 2012 Nicholas Abbey, President, Victorian Council of School Organisations nicholas.abbey@optusnet.com.au

2 Introduction  Personalisation, autonomy, and community in education are obviously interlinked and fundamental  All three together drive significant improvements in learning outcomes and reduce the achievement gaps  On-going creative work of principals, teachers and others with all three and, in turn, how all three will continue to reinvent the principalship

3 School stakeholders’ views  Stakeholders’ support for greater local decision-making in a context of: A strong system of public education Local clusters and networks of schools Strong support from the Department  Obvious concerns that autonomy can: Increase demands on existing resources Exacerbate the tension between the leadership role and managerial and administrative tasks Create a multi-tiered non-‘system’ of schools

4 Context of school autonomy  School autonomy is, of course, double-edged  How autonomy reshapes the principalship reveals both the opportunities and challenges  There is always the risk that the principalship is overloaded with a cross-cutting cacophony of expectations that serve to hinder deep action (Fullan, ‘What’s Worth Fighting for in the Principalship?’)  Coupled with the job requirements that obviously can far exceed the reasonable capacities of any one person (Davis et al, ‘School Leadership Study’)

5 Three key issues 1.Personalised learning – principals, teachers, parents, students and community partners strengthening the match between: Learning content, resources and learning opportunities located across schools, families and the community and Each learner as a whole person with particular needs, interests, aspirations, strengths and preferences 2.Autonomy – the extent to which a school or cluster develops its own goals and strategies consistent with the needs of its own context 3.Community partnerships involving educators, parents, students and community members

6 Key issue 1 - Personalisation  Leadership for students’ personalised learning is the educational rationale for autonomy  Personalisation is a powerful means to better combine parents’ practical wisdom and educators’ professional pedagogical knowledge  “Personalised learning will only become reality when schools become much more networked, collaborating not only with other schools, but with families, community groups and other public agencies” (Charles Leadbeater)  The very future of public education may pivot on on-going work with personalisation

7 Choice and personalisation  A wider choice than “which school should my child attend?” is “what kind of education?”  Students personalising their own learning to some degree (e.g., a theory-practice mix)  Parents’ choices as partners in personalised learning, collectively through governance and individually through partnering with the school over their child’s education  Principals’ and teachers’ choices over the curriculum (Robin Alexander) and pedagogy (their freedom to contextualise learning in contrast to a top-down ‘pressure pedagogy’)  A principals’ roundtable and working group?

8 Choice and public education  Being clear about two types of choice: Between-school choices - parents and students selecting a school other than the one in their area Within-school choices - the decision-making learning journey unique to each individual student within a school, the factors influencing their choices and progress along the way, and the choices made by parents, teachers and principals  Surprisingly little research has been conducted on the nature, extent and impact on learning outcomes of principal, teacher, parent and student choice within schools

9 Key issue 2 - Autonomy  Different types and degrees of autonomy: Curriculum and pedagogy – choices about what and how to teach Leadership and governance - choices to do with school leadership, who participates in key decisions, and what processes are used Timetabling - choices about time use within the school day and calendar Staffing - choices about who to employ and how to allocate staff positions Finances - choices about resources - and space - choices about facilities  Important for schools to be free to do what?  The administratively autonomous school has been the main approach in many countries  What matters: autonomy in teaching and learning (e.g., student motivation research)  Research shows that education systems (in which schools have greater control over the curriculum/pedagogy) achieve better results

10 How autonomy evolves  Older ‘silo’ models of autonomy may give way to models of collaborative autonomy: Clusters and networks of schools Economies of scale and resource-sharing Better system supports across schools Collaborative staff arrangements  Increased autonomy balanced by a strong policy and support framework of collaboration  Autonomy minus collaboration equals ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ schools and educational opportunities for students (John Dunford)

11 Opportunities via autonomy 1.More steps toward a ‘motivational curriculum’ (Stewart Ranson) and what Robin Alexander refers to as a ‘community curriculum’ taking up to 30 per cent of time, as can be planned by a school or a cluster of schools 2.Parents, teachers and students as strategic partners contributing to personalisation 3.Strengthening mutual professional support through clusters of schools, and building broader professional communities, given that individual students’ needs do not fit within the narrow specialisms of any one profession

12 School councils/boards  Do governing boards really matter?  Three models of school governance: 1.Business model – can schools be governed on the basis of volunteers just ‘helping out’? 2.Stakeholder model – providing a voice for teachers, parents, students and others 3.A community governance model (that may draw upon the best elements of 1 & 2)  Organising a governance roundtable discussion among stakeholders and reviewing ‘what works’ in governance

13 School councils’ good practices  A school’s strategic plan with at least one shared school-family-community goal  Council meeting agendas with a sharp focus on key issues in the strategic plan  More use of occasional forums in which teachers, parents and students explore key questions about school improvement  But need more facilitators who are skilful at creating safe, respectful places for school community dialogues about the challenges, opportunities and options for action  Governance will obviously be pivotal in developing P-12 clusters of schools

14 More good practices  Creating teams to share ideas and to champion the P-12 clusters agenda  More use may be made of tools such as a council matrix to list the skills, diversity and experience of members, comprising categories of expertise and diversity such as SES, race/ethnicity, gender and age  The best school council membership obviously reflects the behaviours a school expects + brings particular skills into the council + reflects diversity and networks  Improved professional development for council presidents will become crucial

15 And … some more  Schools that have a technology policy and plan, created by a team involving teachers, parents and students and detailing: A shared vision, goal and objectives for ICT Learning, curriculum and ICT links Family and community partnerships On-line protocols and turn-around times Professional learning for all stakeholders  Victoria’s potential to be a world leader in culturally inclusive teaching and learning including via the better use of technology  The work of the Ministerial Advisory Council for a Multilingual and Multicultural Victoria

16 Key issue 3 - Community  Collaborative autonomy equals community  Student autonomy – students developing their own personal learning networks (PLN) specific to their needs, goals and interests  Learning communities on the larger level: Clusters and networks of schools in partnership with community organisations and businesses The work of schools to infuse the preschool, primary, secondary and post-compulsory levels of education with greater coherence  Becoming critical are the level of support for community partnership brokers and the work of partners such as local government

17 Community governance  The policy agenda is clear: the shared responsibility of schools, families and communities for the personalised learning and development of the whole child, supported by much stronger partnership building and collaborative working  The emerging model of governance reflects this continuing shift from locating learning mainly or merely within an institution to one in which schools and the wider community are collectively responsible  Profile current good practices and work out the principles of community governance

18 Information and assistance  Victorian Council of School Organisations Website: www.viccso.org.auwww.viccso.org.au Telephone: (03) 9429-5900 E-mail: info@viccso.org.au and nicholas.abbey@optusnet.com.auinfo@viccso.org.au nicholas.abbey@optusnet.com.au  School council membership brochure at www.viccso.org.au/docs/membership- brochure.pdf www.viccso.org.au/docs/membership- brochure.pdf  School council training can be arranged, including assistance with the Department's ‘Improving School Governance’ materials


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