An Evaluation of the Policy of Devolution of Decision-Making
and Responsibility to Queensland
State Schools.

Year: 1992

Author: Limerick, Brigid, Burke, Clarrie, Slee, Roger, Cawte, John, Exelby, Sharyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Major organisational restructuring has occurred in the Queensland Department of Education to facilitate devolution in the education system. These changes are based on the recommendations and operating principles set out in the Department report Focus on Schools (1990). One of the key stated purposes of the restructuring is to locate decision-making relevant to schools in the local community. Cynics have argued that this is a cost cutting mechanism, whilst optimists have greeted the move as a return to grassroots democracy where schools are concerned (although, as we shall point out in this paper, it is certainly not a return to grassroots democracy as Queensland has never experienced that in its schooling system). The research reported on in this paper was set up to review and begin the process of evaluating the effectiveness of this policy of devolved decision-making. This was to be done through documenting the perceptions of key personnel and stakeholders at the levels of Schools, School Support Centres, Regional Offices and Central Office as to the effectiveness of the policy in its initial stages. The research is part of a longitudinal research plan which will monitor the process of devolution in Queensland and aims to provide the base data for the on-going project. The paper presented here is divided into five sections. The first section contextualizes the research by providing background information on community involvement in Queensland and the rhetoric underpinning the move to devolving decision-making responsibility. The second section looks at the recent documentation about devolution emanating from Central Office, that is, the setting out of the ground rules. The third section describes the structure derived from Focus on Schools, specifically looking at the Forums which are a crucial and integral part of the new look Education Department. The fourth section looks at the research and outlines the construction of the questionnaire and the problems raised when one is attempting to catch the perceptions of a wide range of people on an issue as complex as decisionmaking. The final section indicates some of the issues that are beginning to emerge from the data. As the research is still in progress these issues are mainly derived from the pilot study and an early scan of the questionnaires which are still arriving and have yet to be analysed.