Problematising research about partnerships in curriculum leadership

Year: 2002

Author: Macpherson, Ian, Aspland, Tania, Cuskelly, Eve

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper is based on a year-long study in which four school sites theorised their development of outcomes-based curriculum frameworks at the local level. A number of lessons learned emerged from this study, among them, the importance of collaboration with partners both within each of the schools and their local communities and within the system and the wider professional community. There is research evidence which suggests improved learning outcomes through collaborative efforts. These efforts are characterised as partnerships in curriculum leadership.

This paper, then, proposes a theorised position about partnerships in curriculum leadership. A number of levels at which partnerships in curriculum leadership occur are identified and elaborated. Methodological possibilities for empirically-based research about partnerships in curriculum leadership across these levels are then considered.

The problematising relates to a decision-making base for choosing methodological approaches that are appropriate for such empirically-based research. A blending of phenomenography and case study within a broader Action Research framework is proposed.

The paper sits within the conference theme in that it develops on the assumption that partnerships as a phenomenon is something that is obviously valued in much of the futures-oriented rhetoric about education. However, what is problematic and uncertain is how partnerships in curriculum leadership are defined and operationalised beyond the rhetoric of policy documents and vision statements. There are also implications for considering the quality of partnerships in such a diversity of contexts and levels. The problematising regarding methodology is an element of this "problematic uncertainty".