23 SES 09 A, New Forms of Governance in School Education (Part 2)
Paper Session continues from 23 SES 08 A
This paper, which is set within the Maltese education scenario of unfolding decentralization through the setting up of multi-site collaboratives (legally termed ‘colleges’) via a policy mandate, explores a particular aspect of this reform – that of ‘networking’. This is examined in terms of the potential for ‘networking’ that educational leaders have at both school and college level, and the ‘effects’ of these (non-)opportunities on both the leaders and the network itself as it is ensconced within the emerging discourse of collaboration as opposed to that of isolationism. This issue is investigated through the following research questions:
- What benefits, if any, are being reaped by the educational leaders at both school and college level, following the introduction of networks and networking?
- What opportunities for networking exist between the Principal and the Heads, and among the Heads themselves?
- What possibilities are present for collaboration to take place beyond the network at different hierarchical leadership levels?
The document ‘For All Children to Succeed’ (2005)[henceforth referred to as FACT] set out the Government’s strategy to transform the existing educational system into one that would foster new professional identities ready to embrace innovative changes that may be introduced, as well as learning communities that would provide the appropriate scenario to ensure a quality education for all. Under this reform, Maltese primary and secondary state schools were organized into ten colleges according to their geographical location. This major reform necessitated the introduction of new roles and new responsibilities, amongst which was the deployment of the College Principal, designated to be the educational leader of the college as a whole.
The Education Act (2006) compels the Principal to hold a monthly meeting for all the Heads of School in the college, which is legally known as the ‘Council of Heads’[henceforth referred to as CoH], in order for all the leaders to build and maintain open channels of communication within and beyond the school community. Chapman and Aspin (2005) suggest that within education, networks are regarded as one of the most promising levers for large-scale reform due to their potential to reculture both the environment and the system in which policy-makers operate through increased co-operation, interconnectedness, and multi-agency.
I adopt a Foucauldian theoretical perspective. Conscious of the fact that Foucault was keen to avoid being seen as offering a ‘general system, an overarching theoretical framework or worldview’ (Foucault, 2001, p.240), I take a ‘piecemeal approach to his work’ (Allen, 2012), by viewing it as a ‘tool-box’ (Megill, 1987). Gillies (2013) thus demonstrates the value of Foucault’s trident of scepticism, critique, and problematization to operate within educational discourse, the purpose of which is ‘to question, probe, and identify weaknesses, contradictions, assumptions, and problems’ (p.19).
Thus, I utilize Foucault’s theories of power, governmentality, discourse, and subjectification. In Foucault’s sense, power is a mechanism that works in and through institutions to produce particular kinds of subjects, knowledge and truth (Foucault, 1979, 1980). Foucault’s (2002a) concept of governmentality, consisting of methods of shaping others’ behaviour, implies that power is subject to negotiation, with each individual having his/her place in the hierarchy. Foucault (2002b) describes ‘discourses’ as ‘practices that systematically form the object of which they speak’ (p.49). Foucault’s (2002c) concept of ‘subjectification’ – dealing with the ‘way a human being turns him- or herself into a subject’ (p.327) - helps me explore the ways in which educational leaders are ‘subjectified’ in a college, in the changes that occur in their leadership conduct due to the creation of new roles as set out in the policy document FACT.
Allen, A. (2012). Using Foucault in education research. http://www.bera.ac.uk/resources. United Kingdom: British Educational Research Association on-line resource. Black, R. (2008). Beyond the classroom: Building new school networks. Camberwell, Victoria: ACER. Chapman, J.D. & Aspin, D.N. (2005). Why networks and why now? (International perspectives on networked learning). Nottingham: NCSL. Crawford, M. (2012). Solo and distributed leadership: Definitions and dilemmas. Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 40(5), 610-620. Damianakis, T. & Woodford, M.R. (2012). Qualitative research with small connected communities: Generating new knowledge while upholding research ethics. Qualitative Health Research, 22(5), 708-718. Education Act Amendment, Act 49-62U.S.C. (2006). Foucault, M. (1979). Power, truth, strategy (M. Morris & P. Patton, eds.). Sydney, Australia: Feral Publications. Foucault, M. (Ed.). (1980). Power/Knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972-77 by Michel Foucault. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Foucault, M. (2001). Dits et ecrits I. 1954-1975. Paris: Quarto Gallimard. Foucault, M. (2002a). Governmentality. In J. D. Faubion (Ed.), Michel Foucault. Power. vol 3 (pp. 201-222). London: Penguin Books. Foucault, M. (Ed.). (2002b). The archeology of knowledge (translated by Sheridan, R. ed.). London: Routledge. Foucault, M. (2002c). The subject and power. In J. D. Faubion (Ed.), Michel Foucault. Power. vol 3 (pp. 326-348). London: Penguin Books. Gillies, D. (2013). Educational leadership and Michel Foucault. London: Routledge. Guillemin, M. & Gillam, L. (2004). Ethics, reflexivity and "ethically important moments" in research. Qualitative Inquiry, 10(2), 261-280. Jackson, D. (2005). Effective networks: What we know helps collaborative success. In Bentley, T., Hopkins, D. & Jackson, D. (Eds.), Developing a network perspective (pp. 8-11). Nottingham: NCSL. Lima, J. A. (2010). Thinking more deeply about networks in education. Journal of Educational Change, 11, 1-21. Megill, A. (1987). Prophets of extremity: Nietzche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida. London: University of California Press. Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment. (2005). For all children to succeed: A new network organization for quality education in Malta. Malta: Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment. Storey, A. (2004). The problem of distributed leadership in schools. School Leadership & Management: Formerly School Organisation, 24(3), 249-265. Youngs, H. (2009). (Un)critical times? Situating distributed leadership in the field. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 41(4), 377-389.
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