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Sydney 7 November 2016

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Annabel Clowes

on 8 November 2016

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Transcript of Sydney 7 November 2016

For public schools refers to the decentralisation from the system to the school of significant authority to make decisions, especially in respect to curriculum, pedagogy, personnel and resources, within a centrally-determined framework of goals, policies, curriculum, standards and accountabilities.
Structural autonomy
Refers to policies, regulations and procedures that permit the school to exercise autonomy. Schools may take up such a remit in a variety of ways, or not at all, including ways that are ineffective if the intent is to improve outcomes for students. The granting of autonomy may make no difference to outcomes for students unless the school has the capacity to make decisions that are likely to make a difference.
Professional autonomy
Refers to the capacity to make decisions that are likely to make a difference to outcomes for students, and this capacity is exercised in a significant, systemic and sustained fashion. Professional autonomy calls for the exercise of judgement, with a high level of discretion in the exercise of that judgement.
The Autonomy Premium
Evidence from national and international studies, along with case studies in Australia, suggest that there is a ‘premium’ available for systems of public education that provide schools with a higher level of autonomy. That premium is likely to deliver a higher level of student achievement than would otherwise be the case, but schools must have the capacity to take up the autonomy that is available to them.
Professional autonomy trumps structural autonomy
On the evidence, professional autonomy trumps structural autonomy. Expressed another way, building capacities associated with professional autonomy should be the ‘lead driver’ in efforts to link school
autonomy to student
Opportunities for professional autonomy in the Australian Curriculum
Is a higher level of school autonomy likely to foster innovation of a kind that will yield benefits to the student and the nation, especially in the development of new approaches to learning in the 21st century?
Big ideas
Ten chapters of
The Autonomy Premium
conclude with a list of 10 ‘big ideas’ for schools and school systems that seek to make autonomy work for them, that is, ensure that the links to student achievement are made visible and effective. Some are simple summaries of evidence in the chapter concerned; others incorporate a ‘call to action’; and a few contain a warning, as it were, about what not to do, or that may prove dysfunctional, despite early indications of success. In total there are 100 ‘big ideas’ in the book.
What the Principals say
To what extent does autonomy enable principals to make decisions that help achieve improved learning outcomes?
Principals generally perceive factors listed below help achieve improved learning outcomes...

• Adapting national/system curriculum to reflect local context
• Adapting national/system curriculum to address special education needs
• Determining approaches to learning
• Adopting new or innovative curricula
• Selecting continuing teaching staff
• Selecting continuing non-teaching staff
• Raising funds from the wider community to support the school
• Formulating the budget of the school for funds provided to your school by the system
• Establishing a school board/council

Autonomy is a characteristic of a profession
Shared standards of practice
Long and rigorous processes of training and qualification
A monopoly over the service that is provided
An ethic of service, even a sense of calling, in relation to clients
Specialised knowledge, expertise, and professional language
Autonomy to make informed discretionary judgments
Working together with other professionals to solve complex cases
To what extent do accountability structures and processes constrain the exercise of autonomy in schools?
• National/system curriculum
• National/system testing
• Expectations/demands on your time
• Expectations/demands on teacher time
• National/system targets for improvement
• Compliance requirements
What new pedagogies have been developed in schools? What progress has been made?
They reported moderate to high levels of progress in each instance...

• New topics or new emphases in the traditional curriculum
• Higher priority on collaboration
• Higher priority on creativity
• Higher priority on problem-solving
• Higher priority on communication
• New approaches to the use of digital literacy / technologies in learning
• New forms of assessment

What is principals' level of confidence in autonomy as one strategy for helping to achieve higher levels of student achievement
10.9 percent of principals provided a rating on the low side of ‘moderate’ whereas 68.7 percent rated it on the high side of ‘moderate.
Taking all things into account, would principals prefer more, less or about the same level of autonomy?
A majority of principals (57.9 percent) prefer more autonomy. Just 2.8 percent prefer less autonomy while 39.3 percent prefer the same as at present. There were no statistically significant differences (p<0.05) among the preferences of different groups of principals.
Improvement, innovation and change in the Australian Professional Standard for Principals (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership 2011)
A balanced centralised-decentralised approach to innovation is required, but schools should use their autonomy to do more, and the system should learn from its schools.
An important aim in education is to raise levels of student achievement, and to do so for all students. It seems that continuing to do things the same way as in the past, but doing them better, or by trying harder, will not suffice. A capacity for innovation is required at every level.

Words like ‘agility’ and ‘nimble’ have been over-used in public discourse but they should be taken very seriously in schools and school systems. While there is an understandable yearning for stability and consolidation, there is a need for a rapid response as circumstances change, as they do with increasing frequency, in response to developments in society, economy, and advances in what we know about learning.
Innovation in school education tends to focus on classroom practices, especially in pedagogy, special education, professional learning communities, and relationship building, including with parents.
The Australian Professional Standard for Principals sets high expectations in respect to leadership in change and innovation. However, the capacity of principals and other school leaders may be limited by work demands, including threats of or actual offensive behaviour of other adults, mainly by people from outside the school, violence and bullying.
World-wide, there is more innovation in education than often believed. There is evidence that innovation can lead to improved learning outcomes and higher levels of equity.
Leading improvement, innovation and change
Principals work with others to produce and implement clear, evidence-based improvement plans and policies for the development of the school and its facilities. They recognise that a crucial part of the role is to lead and manage innovation and change to ensure the vision and strategic plan is put into action across the school and that its goals and intentions are realised.
Self-regulation of conduct, discipline, and dismissals
Commitment to continuous learning and professional upgrading

1. Why are there mixed results in research on the links between school autonomy and student achievement?
2. What is it that schools actually do with a higher level of school autonomy when they take action that leads to gains in student achievement?


Brian J Caldwell
Principal Consultant, Educational Transformations
Professor Emeritus, University of Melbourne

Presentation on the theme Leading Change
for the NSWPPA Principal Credential Program

Sydney NSW
7 November 2016

5. Is a higher level of school autonomy likely to foster innovation of a kind that will yield benefits to the student and the nation, especially in the development of new approaches to learning in the 21st century?
6. How important is school leadership and how may principals and other school leaders be prepared for and supported in their roles?
7. What is the role of the school system in encouraging and supporting a higher level of school autonomy?
3. Why is it that some critics or sceptics about school autonomy advocate approaches to school improvement that assume or require schools to have a relatively high degree of autonomy?
4. How important is a higher level of school autonomy when all of the forces that may help achieve gains in student achievement are taken into account?
8. Where is the profession heading for principals and other school leaders if trends to higher levels of school autonomy are sustained and new approaches to learning are developed?
Where to from here to return Australia to the top 10 nations in school education?
The Economist
- September 17th - 23rd 2016
Being a professional
Etzioni in Hargreaves & Fullan 2012
International Study on School Autonomy and Learning (ISSAL)
Case study schools
Case study schools
Case study schools

1. Successful leadership of change calls for high levels of professional autonomy.
2. The most important change is lifting levels of achievement so that there is success for all students in all settings. This is transformational change.
3. There is robust evidence on how and under what conditions high levels of professional autonomy contribute to improved outcomes for students.
4. The leadership of principals is indispensable.
5. A system strategy is required to create an optimal environment for the exercise of professional autonomy by principals and their colleagues.

*Consistent with directions in NSW public education
Mapping the Links
Related papers and presentations

The most powerful evidence on mediating factors linking school autonomy and student achievement is on the work of principals and other school leaders in building professional capacity through staff selection, professional development and appraisal; setting priorities on the basis of data about performance; strategic resourcing; and communication of purpose, process and performance. Cultural factors may limit effects in some settings. These capacities can be built and made effective in settings where there may be only moderate levels of school autonomy. [Chapter 3, No. 6, P.60]
The ubiquity of ICT in the hands of young people may have lulled us into a false sense of their knowledge and skill in ICT literacy. [Chapter 7, No. 9, P.158]
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