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Corrine

Corrine McMillan

Year of Award: 2015 Award State: Queensland None > Education
Policy > Government
To investigate how governments prepare educational leaders for contexts of increased autonomy - Singapore, Finland, France
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Conclusions and Recommendations

The strategy to best describe the change to schooling and educational systems is dynamic conservatism. The three elements of education that can’t change have been and will remain: obligatory institution, mass format, selection responsibility (that is, placing students in order for university entry) however much can be done to manage both the intended and unintended consequences of education policy and the factors that inevitably will impact on education systems and Principal leadership. What is also important within this context is that the needs of different people, the minority and marginal are heard, as members of these groups may see our work differently, the blinded mainstream need to be reminded to continually challenge the discourse of truth.

This study investigated how public education systems of government in Singapore and Finland develop and prepare leaders for contexts of increased autonomy, decision making and accountability and how these governments manage the challenges of continued vertical fiscal imbalances. Despite these imbalances Singapore and Finland lead the world in education. The study of autonomous local innovation in schools, the leadership skills, abilities and behaviours of the school leaders in these systems is timely in the Australian context to ensure that Queensland and Australia is competitive in a globalised world.

Several educational theorists have recognised that processes leading to globalisation affect public policy and are a significant context of influence. The values now allocated in and through education policy are also linked to globalised education policy discourses (Lingard, 2011). This is supported by Henry et al (2001) who suggest that education policy is central to the formation of social capital and to the democratic spread of social capabilities. Within a competitive global economic framework, education and the knowledge economy is now the policy key to the future prosperity of nations. Policies are made in response to globalisation and policy borrowing and policy lending across nations has consequences for education systems (Ball, 2008, Rizvi and Lingard, 2010).

The emphasis on outcomes including social outcomes requires strong processes of accountability. As many theorists have confirmed, models of public accountability through large scale, high stakes testing is not sufficient for long term sustainable and effective educational reform. As Darling-Hammond (2005) proposed, a new framework for school reform is needed, one in which policy makers shift their efforts from designing controls intended to direct the system to developing capacity that enables schools and teachers to be responsible for student learning and responsive to diverse and changing student and community needs, interests and concerns. Ozga’s (2009) Intelligent Accountability model is worth exploring. It appears similar to the Teaching and Learning Review Instrument used in Queensland. However, Ozga’s (2009) model is implemented by school staff themselves resulting in capacity-building, self-evaluation and critique with trust based professionalism (Sahlberg, 2007). This capacity-building requires different policy tools and different approaches to producing, sharing and using knowledge than those used throughout the past decades.

Ball (1990) provides an example of this when he reports that the debate about education is often constructed at some distance from the processes it purports to describe. Steering from a distance, increases disconnectedness from the policy receivers (Lingard, 2011). Lingard (2011) further suggests that the state at the National level has been restructured under new public management and now steers at a distance using outcome accountability measures, including international comparative measures of student performance to pressure the schooling system for reform. This example illustrates another important aspect of the context of influence; globalisation.

As Bowe et al (1992) describe: education policy continues to be generated and implemented both within and around the educational system in ways that have intended and unintended consequences for both education and its surrounding social milieu. Policy analysis must be committed to the critical analysis of values within current policies as part of the process of clarifying the values which the analyst believes should inform future educational and public policy.

Finally, Sahlberg (2006) believes that cooperation rather than competition is the key principle of change. Economic competitiveness can be improved by fostering this cooperation and interaction through 38 | P a g e networking of schools at the levels of: schools, teachers and students. Further, much research encourages the development of teacher professional learning communities to bring about sustainable educational reform (Sahlberg, 2006; Lingard, et al, 2003; Caldwell, 2006; Fullan, 2007).

It is hoped that the findings of this study and International experience will be disseminated in a variety of professional forums and publications within Queensland and Australia. 

Much can be drawn from this international study experience to reflect upon and refine school leadership for improved learning outcomes for Australian students.

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