A decade of self-management in New Zealand schools: What have we learned?

Year: 1999

Author: Harold, Barbara

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

A key feature of school self-management was the expectation that it would lead to better learning. There is increasing realisation that this may not necessarily be the case; in New Zealand (Wylie, 1997), in Canada (Summers and Johnson, 1996), in Australia (Townsend, 1997) and in the United States (Smith, Scoll and Link, 1996). This paper will report the findings from a new study of seven diverse schools, which was specifically designed to explore both multiple and cumulative aspects of a decade of school reform in New Zealand. The study was a qualitative one which employed wide-ranging interviews with teachers, senior staff and members of the schools’ governing body.

This paper focuses on those findings relating to the impact of self-management on aspects of school policy and practice such as, the roles of the principal, teachers and students, teaching and learning, school-community relationships, and on education of Maaori children. The paper outlines how educational debate and policy in and across these areas is actually being interpreted and translated into practice by those in various roles within schools. The extent to which the patterns in these schools simply confirm the findings of previous research or indicate significant points of departure which might warrant further investigation is also discussed.