University of Tasmania
whole_GivenSheila1993_thesis.pdf (22.6 MB)

The community, policy making, and educational quality : community influence and participation in policy making for educational quality

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posted on 2023-05-27, 00:24 authored by Given, Sheila
In this study of school governance, the problem for investigation is seen to lie in the presumption that formal collaboration of local laypersons with professional educators is an effective way to administer learning institutions. The purposes of this research are to discern the potential of community participation in policy making and to report on the possible influence that decisions made by governing bodies may exert on the quality of education. Against a background where administrative decisions about schooling appear increasingly to be devolved to communities, the foreground issue is the present policy making practice of school-site government. Initially, investigation into a perceived trend towards decentralised administration was undertaken in countries which share a cultural heritage with Australia. To gain an understanding of the patterns, processes, and politics of an alleged devolutionary trend presently operating in, or envisaged for, some widely dispersed populations, inquiries in New Zealand, Canada, the United States, England, Ireland, and Scotland were undertaken. The international perspective gained at that level led to identification of major factors in decentralised educational administration. Further observation proceeded in three Australian States - Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania - before bringing key issues for participatory governance into sharper focus through case studies in the locality of Hobart, Tasmania. Participant observation of administrative performance, procedures, and policies in three learning institutions is used to perceive the possible impact of community participation in governing bodies. Findings derived from the three levels of inquiry indicate the capability of a coalition of professional educators and 'amateur' administrators to govern a school, provided that certain critical pre-conditions are met. The capacity of policy eventuating from collective decision making to enhance educational quality is evident, but it is dependent on clarity in defining the 'desired quality' aspired to, whether by a state, a region or an individual institution. The degree of empowerment underlying administrative procedures, and the policy-for-policymaking on site, are found to be important if participatory governance of schools is to have maximum influence. Maintenance of some centralised control is not seen to be obviated by the progressive devolutionary trend in educational administration. Participation of local communities in formally making decisions for particular institutions is demonstrated as being supportive and responsive to teaching and learning. This can be achieved in a proximate and personal way that is unavailable to distant, centralised, bureaucratic authority. Crucial to a collaborative relationship between the teaching profession and the laity is recognition of differentiated expertise and experience required for the task of school administration as distinct from the actual provision for learning. Effective communication and interaction between personnel from the internal and the immediate external environments of a school are found to contribute to fulfilment of the potential which a local community has to enhance educational quality though policy making.


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Copyright 1993 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 (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1993. Includes bibliographical references (leaves [304-324)

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