03 SES 04 B, School-Based Curriculum Reform
This study investigates how school principals, together with middle managers and classroom teachers, can engage in critical inquiry and evidence-based practice to improve student learning and equity in contexts of high-stakes accountability. The major aim is find ways to achieve greater equity through ethical school leadership. The innovative design of this study fosters collaboration within, between and beyond schools following the work of Ainscow (2012) in the UK and Europe.
Equitable and inclusive school reform involves educators at all levels collaborating with communities to ensure all students’ educational interests are met long-term (Bishop, O’Sullivan & Berryman, 2010; McNaughton, 2011). Schools which are successful in improving all students’ learning in equitable ways do so though developing an inclusive organisational culture, where staff, students and parents are valued and treated with respect (Carrington, 1999; Dyson et al, 2002). Inclusive school communities involve teachers in ongoing and systematic inquiries about student learning which underpin targeted pedagogical and curriculum innovation (Comber & Kamler, 2009). Many studies have outlined the risks of high stakes assessment on educators’ work and student learning (Klenowski, 2009), yet few explore how school leaders guided by ethical principles and practices continue to address equity in such a climate of surveillance and accountability (Blackmore, 2010). Whole school action, values clarification, curriculum inquiry, understanding the identities of staff and students, pedagogical decision making in response to ongoing collection of data, engaging critically with policy and sustained team collaboration are all involved.
Informed by the Greater Manchester Challenge (Ainscow, 2012), the study aims to identify ways in which school leaders, middle managers and classroom teachers in six schools in Queensland, Australia, engage collectively in ethical leadership practices to promote equity in the immediate school environment, in their local communities and with educators from other schools. Networking across schools may facilitate sharing of expertise about addressing equity in an educational context of high-stakes assessment and underpin the development of “richer forms of accountability” (Lingard, 2010, p.133). The project entails a coordinated approach that provides opportunities for local experimentation and innovation, whilst addressing our shared research questions:
- How can an evidence-based inquiry approach be used to support efforts to achieve equity within schools?
- What forms of leadership are needed to support such developments?
- How can networking allow educators to examine expectations and achievement, and take action to improve student learning?
- How can all of this be achieved in the context of high-stakes accountability policies?
Ainscow, M. (2012). Moving knowledge around: strategies for fostering equity within educational systems. Journal of Educational Change, 13; 289-310. Alrichter, J., Kemmis, S., McTaggart, R, & Zuber-Skerritt, O. (2002). The concept of action research. The Learning Organization, 9(3), 125-131. Bishop, R., O’Sullivan, D., & Berryman, M. (2010). Scaling up education reform: Addressing the politics of disparity. Wellington:NZCER Press. Blackmore, J. (2010). Preparing leaders to work with emotions in culturally diverse educational communities. Journal of EducationalAdministration, 48(5), 642-658. Carrington, S. B. (1999). Inclusion needs a different school culture. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 3(3), pp. 257-268. Comber, B. & Kamler, B. (2009). Sustaining the next generation of teacher-researchers to work for social justice. In B. Somekh & S.Noffke (Eds.) Handbook of Educational Action Research (pp.177-185). London: Sage Publications. Dyson, A., Howes, A. & Roberts, B. (2002). A systematic review of the effectiveness of school-level actions for promoting participation by all students, (EPPI-Centre Review, version 1.1). Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science. Kemmis, S (2009). Action research as a practice-based practice. Educational action research, 17(3), 463-474. Kemmis, S. & McTaggart, R. (1988) The action research planner (3rd edn) (Geelong, Victoria, Deakin University Press). Klenowski, V. (2009). Raising the stakes: the challenges for teacher assessment. AARE International Education Research Conference - 2009, 29th November - 3rd December 2009, National Convention Centre, Canberra, A.C.T. Lingard, B. (2010). Policy borrowing, policy learning: testing times in Australian schooling. Critical Studies in Education, 51 (2), 129-147. McNaughton, S (2011). Designing better schools for culturally and linguistically diverse children: A science of performance model for research. New York & London: Routledge. Starratt, R. (2004).Ethical Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
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