15 SES 07, Different Case Study (part 2)
This paper argues that partnerships and networks are central mechanisms (Muijs, West, & Ainscow, 2010) for mobilizing the local education space toward the improvement of the school experience and provision of equity opportunities for all children and young people. This is a new challenge in the highly centralized, until recently, Portuguese education system undergoing a rough economic crisis and scarce availability of resources in schools.
The underlying study, under the project “Building Local Networking in Education?: Decision-makers’ discourses and strategies on school achievement and dropout”, (funded by FCT), aims to contribute to an understanding of current educational policies conveyed by the new modes of governance (Kooiman, 2003) focused on the role of local authorities and school autonomy, and the networks at community level emerging from the process of decentralization. It is our interest to understand the perceptions and logics of the main actors in this policy arena, that is, those who build coalitions and cooperate in the decision making agenda at local level (Ball, 2010). Networks and partnerships enable innovations and respond to school problems through the wellbeing of pupils and teachers and thus are perceived positively by school leaders and the community (Araújo, Sousa, Costa, Loureiro & Portela, 2013); Chapman & Hadfield, 2010a, 2010b; Hadfield & Chapman, 2009).
Though the centrality of the state is prevalent in most educational matters such as pedagogy, curriculum and assessment as well as the teaching profession, in the last decade the central government is implementing some devolution to local communities of some of its responsibilities which correspond to a transference of competencies, corresponding, mainly, to resource allocation, and social services such as meals, transportation and support to the families by providing extra after school activities.
These policies led to the promotion and reinforcement of the power of local authorities in education decisions and the upsurge of partnerships and networks that include schools, entrepreneurs, public and private organizations, provoking a “respatialisation” (Ozga, 2012) of the local governing forces with consequences to the education system. Though this move is in line with the global transfer of educational models and policies, largely in flow with the “borrowing and lending” current reforms (Steiner-Khamsi, 2012), this study attempts to understand the particular process that is taking place in Portugal. It explores the dynamics, adaptations and transformations at local and school level, where the process of integration of services and education in local authority departments and the incorporation of all sorts of new community actors in the school structures, is becoming “relational” in tackling underachievement and poverty (Witty, 2002).
Araújo, H. C., Sousa, F., Costa, I., Loureiro, A., & Portela, J. (2013). Building local networking in education? Decision-makers’ discourses on school achievement and dropout in Portugal. In Beatrice Boufoy-Bastick (Ed.), Cultures of education policy: Comparative international issues of policy-outcome relationships, Strasbourg: Analytics. (Forthcoming) Ball, S. (2008). New philanthropy, new networks and new governance in education. Political Studies, 56, 747–765 Ball, S. (2010). New voices, new knowledges and the new politics of education research: The gathering of a perfect storm? European Educational Research Journal, 9 (2), 124-137. Chapman, C. & Hadfield, M. (2010a). Supporting the middle tier to engage with school-based networks: change strategies for influencing and cohering in Journal of Educational Change, 11, 221-240 Chapman, C. & Hadfield, M. (2010b). Realizing the potential of school-based networks. Educational Research. 52 (3), 309-323. Hadfield, M. & Chapman, C. (2009). Leading School-based Networks. London: Routledge. Kooiman, J. (2003). Governing as Governance. London: Sage Muijs, D., West, M. & Ainscow, M. (2010) Why network? Theoretical perspectives on networking. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 21 (1), 5-26 Ozga, Jenny (2012) Introduction. Assessing PISA, European Educational Research Journal. 11(2), 166-171. Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2012). Understanding policy borrowing and lending: Building comparative policy studies, in G. Steiner-Khamsi & F. Waldow (eds.) Policy Borrowing and Lending in Education: World Yearbook of Education 2012 (pp. 3-17). New York: Routledge Whitty, G. (2002). Making sense of education policy. London: Paul Chapman.
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