23 SES 04 A, Policy Reforms and the Regulation of Teachers’ Work
The goal for the European Union is explicitly to develop the “most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world” (Moutsios, 2007, p. 19). The marketisation and privatisation of English schools is part of a wider European drive to dismantle centralised educational bureaucracy in an effort to bring educational policy closer to economic requirements, largely influenced by non-European states such as Australia, Canada and the United States of America (Helgøy et al, 2007; Moutsios, 2007). Moreover the process of data comparison has enabled success or failure to be highlighted at an international level (Nóvoa and Yariv-Mashal, 2003). The decentralisation of educational bureaucracy runs alongside a form of re-regulation where quality, performance and targets are measured (Helgøy et al, 2007). This is a tension faced by schools and their leaders where political narratives stress new levels of autonomy whilst at the same time act to constrain this autonomy through the operation of accountability systems. As a consequence teachers face pressures to focus on students that perform better thus protecting the reputation and attractiveness of particular schools but with implications for issues of social justice (Braga et al, 2011).
The degree of autonomy in English schools could be argued to have been far greater than in the rest of Europe (Glatter, 2012) and as Helgøy and Homme (2007) posit, the kind of autonomy held influences the ability of the profession to influence practice. For example, Sleegers and Wesselingh (2006) discuss autonomy in relation to Dutch schools where roles for schools in terms of establishing social order, work against the ability to be autonomous. They go on to assert that in Sweden where individual autonomy is emphasized then the ability to influence national policy is weakened together with a reduction in the authority of the profession. However, Helgøy and Homme argue that in Norway a sense of teacher’s holding not individual but collective autonomy, allows these teachers to influence policy. In England systems of educational ‘deliverology’ (Barber et.al., 2010) have challenged educational leaders’ sense of autonomy, acting to engender a sense of division and isolation making the role of educational leaders at best stressful and at worst untenable (Cribb and Ball, 2010).
This paper considers the position that English school leaders adopt in relation to questions of autonomy and the ways in which they may protect or relinquish it. Moreover the paper investigates whether particular values influence particular leaders in particular ways through exploring the life-histories of a small sample of head teachers in relation to what drove them to choose the teaching profession and then to become educational leaders. Leaders develop their professional abilities against a backdrop of their particular experiences, moral values and attributes, all of which develop throughout their life (Inman, 2011). The society and culture within which leaders are situated will influence their assumptions and values (Gronn, 1999). School leaders thus act on the basis of their perceptions of the situation, their perspectives of the contextual conditions within which they are operating and the ways in which these perspectives are acted upon (Ribbins, 1995).
Braga, M., Checchi, D. and Meschi, E. (2011) : Institutional reforms and educational attainment in Europe: A long run perspective, Discussion Paper series, Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit, No. 6190, http://nbn-resolving.de/ urn:nbn:de:101:1-201201104019 Charmaz K (2006) Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis. London: SAGE. Cribb, A. and S. Ball. (2005) “Towards an ethical audit of the privatisation of education”. British Journal of Education Studies, 53, 2: 115-128. Glatter, R. (2012) “Persistent Preoccupations: The Rise and Rise of School Autonomy and Accountability in England” Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 40(5) 559-575 Goodson, Ivor F., and Patricia J. Sikes. Life history research in educational settings: Learning from lives. Open University Press, 2001. Gronn P (1999) The Making of Educational Leaders. London: Cassell Helgøy, I., Homme, A. and Gewirtz, S. (2007) Introduction to Special Issue Local Autonomy or State Control? Exploring the Effects of New Forms of Regulation in Education, European Educational Research Journal, 6(3), 198-202. Inman, M. (2011) “The Journey to Leadership for Leader Academics in Higher Education” Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 39(2) p228-241 Moutsios, S. (2007) “The European Union and its Education Policy” in Kothoff, H-G. and Moutsios, S. (eds) (2007) Education Policies in Europe: Economy, Citizenship, Dniversity, New York: Waxmann pp 15-26 Nóvoa, A., and T. Yariv-Mashal. 2003. Comparative research in education: A mode of governance or a historical journey. Comparative Education 39, no. 4: 423–39. Ribbins, P. (1999) ‘On Redefining Educational Management and Leadership’, Educational Management & Administration 27(3): 227–38 Sleegers, P. and Wesselingh, A. (1995) Dutch Dilemmas: decentralisation, school autonomy and professionalisation of teachers, Educational Review, 47:2, 199-207, DOI: 10.1080/0013191950470207 Schostak, J. (2006) Interviewing and Representation in Qualitative Research Maidenhead: Open University Press Sfard A and Prusak A (2005) Telling identities: In search of an analytical tool for investigating learning as a culturally shaped activity. Educational Researcher 34(4): 14–22. Schwandt, T. A. “Constructivist, interpretivist approaches to human inquiry”. In Denzin, N. K. (Ed); Lincoln, Y. S. (Ed), (1994). Handbook of qualitative research. , (pp. 118-137). Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications, Inc, xii, 643 pp. Spencer L, R. J, and O’Connor W. (2003) Analysis: Practices, principles and processes. In: Ritchie J and Lewis J (eds) Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers. London: Sage, pp. 199–218
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