University of Tasmania
whole_BennettJudithGrace2002_thesis.pdf (6.61 MB)

Principal perceptions of a school-based reform initiative

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posted on 2023-05-26, 22:10 authored by Bennett, Judith Grace
In recent years the structure of school governance in Australia has been undergoing dramatic change. Changes have included an increased devolution of responsibility for the implementation of centrally-determined policies and priorities (Mulford and Hogan, 1999). Such change is considered as having significant implications for all schools (Sharpe, 1994). The purpose of this study was to examine the ways in which a selected group of 16 Tasmanian school principals undertook a school reform initiative in the area of increased decentralisation of school governance, the Assisted School Self Review (ASSR) process, in their particular school. The research questions selected for the study were as follows: 1. How did principals gain commitment and initiate the ASSR process in their School? 2. What were the management and decision-making processes adopted by the principal for the ASSR process? 3. What did principals perceive as the outcomes of the ASSR process for their schools? and, 4. How did principals perceive the ASSR process affecting their role as principal? A multi-case study method was adopted and semi-structured interviews and document analysis were used to gather data. The range of interview questions and prompts were also listed. The interview data were analysed according to the questions presented and categorised. Responses were triangulated by reference to the document analysis and an elite interview. This study found that the establishment and implementation of school-based reform is affected by the level of commitment from staff and the principal, the principal's leadership style and the characteristics of a school context including administrative practices, school size and school sector. The principal is a critical player in implementing school-based reform. This study reinforces previous research indicating tension between central policy guidelines and school-based ownership and accountability. Though the principals in this study perceived the ASSR process as centrally driven, they perceived the process in a positive light, and considered that they implemented the ASSR process as required by the ASSR guidelines. In brief, this study has found that the following seven aspects contribute to a greater likelihood of successful implementation of school reform efforts such as ASSR: ‚Äö Principal with a positive attitude and understanding of school-based reform; ‚Äö Proactive rather than reactive principal using ASSR as a lever for change; ‚Äö Having an experienced principal; ‚Äö Being in a primary and/or smaller school; ‚Äö Use of existing rather than adding to a school's activities or ways of operation; ‚Äö Shared or distributive leadership within the school; and Time, to reflect on the reform process and its implications for school improvement. Principals undertaking reform agendas have professional learning needs that relate to change and school improvement and their roles as leaders in schools. These agendas need to take particular account of the professional development of those new to principalship or new in their school.


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Copyright 2002 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis ( M.Ed.)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references

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