26 SES 13 A, Institutional Autonomy and Educational Reform in Central Asia
In Kazakhstan the scope for school directors and other middle-tier leaders to exercise leadership tends to be constrained by centralised control of school-level decision making, though there are tentative moves in the direction of giving schools great autonomy and local communities more of a say in their affairs. In any case, whatever its source, any educational innovation requires interpretation and leadership at school level. This paper will examine more precisely the scope for initiative and independent action that lies with school directors in Kazakhstan and consider in what spheres they are expected to exercise their own judgement, to whom they are accountable, what kind of autonomy, if any, they enjoy or aspire to. This study employs a mixed method research design, drawing on data from literature reviews, surveys, case studies of different types of school, interviews with school directors, deputies, other middle-tier leaders, teachers, and representatives from the local education administrations. The aim of the study is to contribute to broader debates about leadership in schools during a time of change, as well as to provide more specific understanding of the reform process in Kazakhstan that can contribute to teacher training and leadership development programmes.
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