‘We Value the Individual’: Resisting Performative Policy Influences through a Strong School Vision

Year: 2016

Author: Heffernan, Amanda

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In the current climate of education, principals must reconcile their vision of their role with increasing demands and policy expectations that govern their work from a distance. In Queensland, Australia, principals are explicitly required to focus on school improvement, as measured in data profiles disseminated by the department throughout the year (Heffernan, in press). One of the potential effects of the policy ensembles in this particular context, which espouse high external accountabilities, high-stakes testing, and public and transparent school data (Hardy, 2015; Lingard, Thompson & Sellar, 2015; Niesche, 2011), is a narrowed focus of education. In contrast, moving beyond test scores, ‘Judy', an experienced primary school principal, sees her role as leading with an emphasis on holistic education. This paper presents a case study of Judy’s work, theorised through a lens of performativity (Lyotard, 1984, Ball, 2005), to demonstrate how a central vision (Kose, 2011; Kurland, Peretz & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2010) guides her work and enables her to lead strategically towards a long-term goal that may differ from the narrow measures of achievement currently emphasised by many systems. It contributes to the field of educational leadership and policy research by examining how the introduction and enactment of new policy ensembles (Ball, Maguire & Braun, 2012) in Queensland in recent years has influenced principals’ conceptualisations of their roles and their leadership practices. ReferencesLyotard, J. F. (1984). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Ball, S. (2005). Education Policy and Social Class: The Selected Works of Stephen J. Ball. Abingdon: Routledge. Ball, S., Braun, A., Maguire, M. (2012). How Schools do Policy: Policy Enactments in Secondary Schools. Routledge: Hoboken. Hardy, I. (2015). A logic of enumeration: the nature and effects of national literacy and numeracy testing in Australia. Journal of Education Policy, 30(3), 335-362. Kose, B. (2011). Developing a Transformative School Vision: Lessons from Peer-Nominated Principals. Education and Urban Society, 43(2), 119-136. Heffernan, A. (in press). The Emperor’s Perfect Map: Leadership by Numbers. The Australian Educational Researcher. Kurland, H., Peretz, H., & Hertz-Lazarowitz, R. (2010). Leadership style and organizational learning: the mediate effect of school vision. Journal of Educational Administration, 48(1), 7-30.Lingard, B., Thompson, G., & Sellar, S. (2015) National Testing in Schools: An Australian Assessment. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Niesche, R. (2011). Foucault and Educational Leadership. Disciplining the Principal. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.