Year: 1993

Author: Coombe, Kennece, Cocklin, Barry, Retallick, John, Clancy, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In the present socio-political context of educational change, accompanied by an increasing focus on issues such as 'teacher quality', there are moves towards applying a generalist set of attributes to teaching. While recognition is often given to issues of professional development in seeking to improve quality of teaching, little attention has focussed specifically upon determining the everyday realities of what teachers see as the more important aspects of their professional lives. Certainly, with the moves towards 'quality' of teaching, and the continuing and escalating process of change in both structure and processes impacting upon teaching - devolution, school-based budgeting, schools councils, etcetera - it seemed more than timely to ask one group of teachers to report their views on the 'most important' aspects of their work. The research reported here, then, sought the views of a group of women principals in rural New South Wales. The rationale for selecting this group was fairly clear-cut. Principals as a group are not only the recipients of policy directives from the bureaucracy but are also, in turn, deemed responsible for the implementation of these policies within their own organisation. Furthermore, in much of the literature on school leadership and management, consideration of the ways in which women approach their activities and responsibilities as principals appears under- represented. In light, then, of these factors this study sought to redress that imbalance in some small way. The study commenced during the fourth term of 1992. This time period suited the purpose of the research in that the Principals were able to reflect on the year just gone in terms of what they had achieved and the expectations (viable, valid or otherwise) held for them by the community, the Department, themselves, their colleagues and others. A down-side to this timing however, was that the October-November period is one where teachers are busy so responses were not quickly returned. Nevertheless, the timing appeared not to diminish the significance given to the issues raised, but may have contributed to the 'mortality rate' in the first round of the Delphi procedure. It was this initial round that provided a focus for a paper presented to this Conference in 1992 (see, Coombe et al., 1992a). Rounds Two and Three were undertaken during the first term of the 1993 school year, and it is the overall findings from the investigation that provide the focus for the present paper.