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Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xvii
Leading and Transforming Education Systems: Two Canadian Examples (Avis Glaze)....Pages 1-17
Leading and Transforming Education Systems: A System Approach to Curriculum Reform in Wales (Graham Donaldson)....Pages 19-31
System Reform in China: Mobilising and Sharing Resources Across Schools (Haiyan Qian, Allan Walker)....Pages 33-46
Change in the Early Childhood Care and Education Sector in Singapore (Pak Tee Ng)....Pages 47-60
The English School Reforms: Competition, Innovation and Fragmentation (Mel Ainscow, Maija Salokangas)....Pages 61-76
Chile: Changing the Teaching Profession, the Most Challenging Reform (José Weinstein, Gonzalo Muñoz, Carlos Eugenio Beca)....Pages 77-90
The Role of Ministerial Leadership in System Transformation—Some Reflections from Wales (Leighton Andrews)....Pages 91-103
Transformation in New South Wales Through Collaborative Professional Engagement: From Ambition to Actualization (Ann McIntyre)....Pages 105-119
Building the Capacity for Collective Responsibility in Norway (Thomas Hatch)....Pages 121-131
Education in Wales: Attempting Systemic Reform to Combat Underachievement, 2000–2018 (David Reynolds, Judy Mckimm)....Pages 133-148
Transformation of School Education System in Russia: 2007–2017 (Isak Froumin, Sergey Kosaretsky)....Pages 149-163
System Transformation in Spanish Education Agenda: Inclusion and Networking as Policy Priorities? (Cecilia Azorín)....Pages 165-178
Inventing the Future: Why International Borrowing is no Longer Sufficient for Improving Education (Yong Zhao)....Pages 179-202
Back Matter ....Pages 203-206
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Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52

Michelle Jones Alma Harris Editors

Leading and Transforming Education Systems Evidence, Insights, Critique and Reflections

Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects Volume 52

Series Editors Rupert Maclean, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia Lorraine Pe Symaco, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China Editorial Board Bob Adamson, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China Robyn Baker, New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Wellington, New Zealand Michael Crossley, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK Shanti Jagannathan, Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines Yuto Kitamura, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan Colin Power, Graduate School of Education, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia Konai Helu Thaman, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji Advisory Editors Mark Bray, UNESCO Chair, Comparative Education Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China Yin Cheong Cheng, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China John Fien, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia Pham Lan Huong, International Educational Research Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Chong-Jae Lee, Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI), Seoul, Korea (Republic of) Naing Yee Mar, GIZ, Yangon, Myanmar Geoff Masters, Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne, Australia Margarita Pavlova, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China Max Walsh, Secondary Education Project, Manila, Philippines Uchita de Zoysa, Global Sustainability Solutions (GLOSS), Colombo, Sri Lanka

The purpose of this Series is to meet the needs of those interested in an in-depth analysis of current developments in education and schooling in the vast and diverse Asia-Pacific Region. The Series will be invaluable for educational researchers, policy makers and practitioners, who want to better understand the major issues, concerns and prospects regarding educational developments in the Asia-Pacific region. The Series complements the Handbook of Educational Research in the Asia-Pacific Region, with the elaboration of specific topics, themes and case studies in greater breadth and depth than is possible in the Handbook. Topics to be covered in the Series include: secondary education reform; reorientation of primary education to achieve education for all; re-engineering education for change; the arts in education; evaluation and assessment; the moral curriculum and values education; technical and vocational education for the world of work; teachers and teaching in society; organisation and management of education; education in rural and remote areas; and, education of the disadvantaged. Although specifically focusing on major educational innovations for development in the Asia-Pacific region, the Series is directed at an international audience. The Series Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects, and the Handbook of Educational Research in the Asia-Pacific Region, are both publications of the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association. Those interested in obtaining more information about the Monograph Series, or who wish to explore the possibility of contributing a manuscript, should (in the first instance) contact the publishers. Please contact Melody Zhang (e-mail: [email protected]) for submitting book proposals for this series.

More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/5888

Michelle Jones Alma Harris •


Leading and Transforming Education Systems Evidence, Insights, Critique and Reflections


Editors Michelle Jones Swansea University School of Education Swansea, UK

Alma Harris Swansea University School of Education Swansea, UK

ISSN 1573-5397 ISSN 2214-9791 (electronic) Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects ISBN 978-981-15-4994-6 ISBN 978-981-15-4996-0 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0 © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. The registered company address is: 152 Beach Road, #21-01/04 Gateway East, Singapore 189721, Singapore

Series Editors Introduction

This volume by Michele Jones and Alma Harris Leading and Transforming Education Systems is the latest book to be published in the long standing Springer Book Series Education in the Asia Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects. The first volume in this Springer series was published in 2002, with this book being the XXth volume to be published to date. Leading and Transforming Education Systems examines education change and transformation in different countries. Relevant policies and contextual realities are discussed in line with how education systems transformation take place. The book looks broadly at educational reform in different contexts—countries at different levels of educational reform that reflect how such change “takes place authentically, with all its limitations, frustrations and tribulations” The fourteen chapters give readers an overview of the complex process of education transformation in different places, and solutions for better education advancement proposed by each. In terms of the Springer Book Series in which this volume is published the various topics dealt with in the series are wide ranging and varied in coverage, with an emphasis on cutting edge developments, best practices and education innovations for development. Topics examined in the series include: environmental education and education for sustainable development; the interaction between technology and education; the reform of primary, secondary and teacher education; innovative approaches to education assessment; alternative education; most effective ways to achieve quality and highly relevant education for all; active ageing through active learning; case studies of education and schooling systems in various countries in the region; cross country and cross cultural studies of education and schooling; and the sociology of teachers as an occupational group, to mention just a few. More information about this book series is available at http://www.springer. com/series/5888. All volumes in this series aim to meet the interests and priorities of a diverse education audience including researchers, policy makers and practitioners; tertiary students; teachers at all levels within education systems; and members of the public who are interested in better understanding cutting edge developments in education and schooling in Asia-Pacific. v


Series Editors Introduction

The reason why this book series has been devoted exclusively to examining various aspects of education and schooling in the Asia-pacific region is that this is a particularly challenging region which is renowned for its size, diversity and complexity, whether it be geographical, socio-economic, cultural, political or developmental. Education and schooling in countries throughout the region impact on every aspect of people’s lives, including employment, labour force considerations, education and training, cultural orientation, and attitudes and values. Asia and the Pacific is home to some 63% of the world’s population of 7 Billion. Countries with the largest populations (China, 1.4 Billion; India, 1.3 Billion) and the most rapidly growing mega-cities are to be found in the region, as are countries with relatively small populations (Bhutan, 755,000; the island of Niue, 1600). Levels of economic and socio-political development vary widely, with some of the richest countries (such as Japan) and some of the poorest countries on earth (such as Bangladesh). Asia contains the largest number of poor of any region in the world, the incidence of those living below the poverty line remaining as high as 40% in some countries in Asia. At the same time many countries in Asia are experiencing a period of great economic growth and social development. However, inclusive growth remains elusive, as does growth that is sustainable and does not destroy the quality of the environment. The growing prominence of Asian economies and corporations, together with globalisation and technological innovation, are leading to long term changes in trade, business and labour markets, to the sociology of populations within (and between) countries. There is a rebalancing of power, centred on Asia and the Pacific region, with the Asian Development Bank in Manila declaring that the 21st Century will be ‘the Century of Asia Pacific’. We believe this book series makes a useful contribution to knowledge sharing about education and schooling in Asia Pacific. Any readers of this or other volumes in the series who have an idea for writing their own book (or editing a book) on any aspect of education and/or schooling, that is relevant to the region, are enthusiastically encouraged to approach the series editors either direct or through Springer to publish their own volume in the series, since we are always willing to assist perspective authors shape their manuscripts in ways that make them suitable for publication in this series. June 2019

Rupert Maclean School of Education RMIT University Melbourne, Australia Lorraine Pe Symaco College of Education Zhejiang University Hangzhou, China


Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michelle Jones and Alma Harris 1









Leading and Transforming Education Systems: Two Canadian Examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Avis Glaze


Leading and Transforming Education Systems: A System Approach to Curriculum Reform in Wales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Graham Donaldson


System Reform in China: Mobilising and Sharing Resources Across Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Haiyan Qian and Allan Walker


Change in the Early Childhood Care and Education Sector in Singapore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pak Tee Ng


The English School Reforms: Competition, Innovation and Fragmentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mel Ainscow and Maija Salokangas


Chile: Changing the Teaching Profession, the Most Challenging Reform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . José Weinstein, Gonzalo Muñoz, and Carlos Eugenio Beca


The Role of Ministerial Leadership in System Transformation—Some Reflections from Wales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leighton Andrews


Transformation in New South Wales Through Collaborative Professional Engagement: From Ambition to Actualization . . . . . . 105 Ann McIntyre





Building the Capacity for Collective Responsibility in Norway . . . . 121 Thomas Hatch

10 Education in Wales: Attempting Systemic Reform to Combat Underachievement, 2000–2018 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 David Reynolds and Judy Mckimm 11 Transformation of School Education System in Russia: 2007–2017 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Isak Froumin and Sergey Kosaretsky 12 System Transformation in Spanish Education Agenda: Inclusion and Networking as Policy Priorities? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 Cecilia Azorín 13 Inventing the Future: Why International Borrowing is no Longer Sufficient for Improving Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179 Yong Zhao Conclusion: Insights and Reflections Michelle Jones and Alma Harris . . . 203

Editors and Contributors

About the Editors Dr. Michelle Jones, FRSA is an Associate Professor and the Head of the Swansea University School of Education. Dr Jones is recognized internationally as an expert in educational leadership and professional learning. She has published extensively and is a recognised authority in the field of education. A deep commitment to educational excellence has driven her entire career. She has been an Education Adviser to Welsh Government, UK, and co led the national implementation of the ‘Professional Learning Communities’ national programme involving every school in Wales. She has also been an Education Consultant for the World Bank since 2010 contributing to several research and development projects, assisting school improvement in challenging circumstances in various regions in Russia. Dr. Jones has worked with many governments and government agencies including those in England, Russia, Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia assisting with the design and delivery of their leadership and professional learning programmes. Dr. Jones is a Research Fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Education and a Senior Research Fellow at the National Research University, Moscow Higher School of Economics. She is the co-editor of a well-established international journal ‘School Leadership and Management’ that publishes articles, reports, news and information on all aspects of the organisation and management of schools and colleges. Dr. Jones is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is currently advising Welsh Government on accreditation matters. She is currently the co-investigator on three major research projects including an Erasmus Plus grant that involves several other countries. Dr. Alma Harris, FAcSS, FLSW, FRSA has held Professorial posts at University College London, the University of Warwick, University of Malaya, Malaysia and the University of Bath. She is internationally known for her research and writing on school and system improvement. She is a consultant to the World Bank and is holds visiting professorial positions at the Moscow Higher School of Economics and the



Editors and Contributors

University of Southampton. Professor Harris is Past President of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and School Improvement and Past President of the College of Teachers. She was a Senior Adviser to the Minister of Education and Skills in Wales (2009–2012) and is currently an International Adviser to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Scotland. She is currently hold the post of Professor of Education and Deputy Head of School at Swansea University School of Education, Wales, UK.

Contributors Mel Ainscow University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK Leighton Andrews Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK Cecilia Azorín University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain Carlos Eugenio Beca Center for School Leadership Development (CEDLE), Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile; Diego Portales University, Santiago, Chile Graham Donaldson University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UK Isak Froumin Institute of Education, National Research University, Moscow, Russia Avis Glaze Edu-Quest International Inc, Delta, BC, Canada Thomas Hatch Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, NY, USA Sergey Kosaretsky Institute of Education, National Research University, Moscow, Russia Ann McIntyre University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia Judy Mckimm Swansea University, Swansea, UK Gonzalo Muñoz Center for School Leadership Development (CEDLE), Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile Pak Tee Ng National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore Haiyan Qian The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China David Reynolds Swansea University, Swansea, UK Maija Salokangas Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland

Editors and Contributors


Allan Walker The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China José Weinstein Center for School Leadership Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile



Yong Zhao School of Education, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA

Introduction Michelle Jones and Alma Harris

Most policy makers around the world are preoccupied with improving their education system. Consequently, educators are attempting to implement multiple changes, often at different levels in the system, frequently with limited time and resources. The net result can be confusion, overload and change fatigue as those at the chalk-face struggle to put in place the many, often competing, policy demands made of them. Transformation and change are unequivocally a necessary part of improving education systems but sometimes the pace of change and the volume of activity can simply be too great, too quick and too fragile. This book looks at education transformation in different countries, aiming too offer comparison, critique and commentary. It offers new perspectives on system level change and provides insights and reflections on the process of attempting reform at scale by those at the very epicentre of change. The chapters in this book are not overly romanticised stories of system success but instead contain critiques and policy commentaries, as well as accounts of education reform in motion. Collectively, the chapters in this book offer a unique analysis of the way in which system transformation takes place, along with an assessment of its limitations, frustrations, trials and tribulations. In this book a critical stance on education policy is taken quite deliberately. There is analysis and commentary, from within different systems, as well as insights into the political intentions behind contemporary approaches to school and system improvement. The book includes some countries from Asia, but the core aim of the book is to look across the globe at education reform in practice. Although this book is a series that focuses on Asia, its remit is far wider, as its perspective and content is of global interest. In the pages that follow, some hard questions about the practicality and potential of reform at scale are raised. The book challenges some of the conventional wisdom about the enactment and implementation of national policy, including whether reform at scale is actually possible (Fullan and Gallagher 2020). The book considers the influence of large-scale international assessments, such as PISA, on policy making and policy makers. Since the first PISA results were published in December 2001 this international assessment has strengthened its grip on education policymaking globally (Raffe 2011). Some assessment plus reflections xiii



on the relationship between international benchmarks and policy making imperatives appear in the pages of this book, particularly but not exclusively in the final chapter. While PISA is not the focus of this book, it remains a potent policy influence globally and has elevated some countries, particularly those in Asia, to the status of ‘high performing’. As a result, these ‘high performing’ systems (in PISA) are often looked at enviously by policy makers, and some writers, as if they hold the secret to educational nirvana. Stories abound about why these systems perform so well and most of these accounts are just that, stories. In truth, why these systems perform as they do cannot be empirically verified or proven, the cause and effect relationships within a system are far too complex, heavily interconnected and highly convoluted. Therefore, what we have are best guesses, estimations and attributions, often without reference to any substantial or independent research evidence. The fact remains that context and culture explain far more about performance than some of the accounts of the high performing countries (in PISA) would acknowledge or accept (Harris and Jones 2015). For many students, the PISA tests are not considered to be high stakes, they do not affect their grades or progression through school. In other countries, all testing in high stakes and the system is geared towards testing in ways that permeate through communities, there is intense pressure to succeed and private tutoring is a multi million-dollar business. While the Finish educator, Pasi Sahlberg, strongly advises ‘not to copy Finland’ this advice is often ignored in the international stampede for better system and school outcomes. A range of books have been produced that offer ‘lessons’ from the high performers (in PISA) with enticing titles such as ‘Cleverlands’ (Crehan 2016) with a promise to ‘unlock the secrets of success of the education superpowers’, even though no chance of empirically proving any of the assertions or explanations offered. School and system improvement, it would seem, has become a lucrative, commercial enterprise for those with solutions to sell. Yet, education systems are inherently complex, and reform is profoundly messy. No one strategy or approach will work everywhere. Identifying what works may seem like an important pursuit but in terms of system level change, the strategies that work in one context are unlikely to work well, or even at all, in another (Harris and Jones 2015). This is not to suggest or imply that sharing knowledge across education systems is futile. Learning about school and system change from those working within such contexts is important and valuable, particularly where certain reforms have not had the outcome desired or intended. The problem is, however, that much of the contemporary policy discourse tends to focus, narrowly and predictably, on the high performing systems (in PISA) rather than taking a critical, more considered view of the potential and limitations of approaches to transformation in a wider, more diverse range of contexts. Recently, a new book by the orchestrator of PISA, Andrea Schleicher maps the development and the successes of PISA. ‘World Class: Building a 21st Century School System1’ rehearses many of the well-known arguments for this international 1




assessment and by association, its preferred reform strategies. In the book, Schleicher argues that ‘one of the most important insights from PISA was that education systems could be changed and made to perform’. He also proposes that culture is not necessarily an important consideration when addressing reform at scale. He cites the success of many countries like Mexico, Germany, Columbia and Peru that have improved their performance, it is argued, irrespective of their context and their culture. There are two important observations to be made here. Firstly, the term “world-class” is relatively meaningless because it is not possible to say that a practice is ‘good’, ‘best’ or ‘effective’ in all settings, on all occasions and with all students. It largely depends on the contextual conditions and the cultural setting in which this practice is effective in the first place. Often things work because of the contextual conditions that enable them to work, not because they are universally effective. Secondly by citing countries like Mexico, Columbia and Peru, there is the impression that other developing countries, also facing an uphill struggle to improve educational outcomes, can simply follow this well-trodden pathway to success. Far less is said in the book about countries that have failed to make any real progress on PISA, despite borrowing some of the strategies of the more successful performers, yet there are many examples (Harris and Jones 2015). Countries that have failed to lift their PISA performance tend to make the headlines in negative ways, often with pejorative comments about teachers not making the grade or failing to deliver. These sensational headlines grab the limelight and panic those responsible for moving the system up the PISA rankings. But there seems to be far less appetite for finding out exactly why the strategies or approaches adopted did not prove to be productive in the first place or reflecting upon the limitations of the measure itself. Taking PISA as the only measure of an education system’s performance is not only problematic but also fundamentally misguided, as it is only one benchmark and only one vantage point (see Chap. 13). Inevitably, there are a complex set of interrelated factors plus substantial differences across educational systems, political systems, societies, and cultures that interact, both positively and negatively, with any reform process. The ‘side-effects’ of certain policy decisions and approaches are also often factored out or ignored (Zhao, Chap. 13). We argue in this book, therefore, that there is an alternative position to constantly trying to replicate the performance of certain countries by trying to be like them and borrowing policies from them. It is proposed that a more productive and sustainable approach to system transformation would be for countries to identify their own strengths and build upon them, drawing on a policy learning approach rather than a policy borrowing approach (Harris et al. 2016). In other words, we propose that a more mature policy response would be to build upon and extend what already works well in context and to focus far more from learning within the system, rather than focusing most attention outside it. This system learning approach, we suggest, would be potentially more useful and impactful than



borrowing solutions from others. It would also be less expensive in terms of time, energy and resource. Good things are happening in all education systems, somewhere. The real challenge is to locate it, build upon it and if possible, replicate it more widely. System change requires deep rooted cultural change, but cultures do not change by mandate: they change by the specific displacement of existing norms, structures and processes (Harris and Jones 2019). The process of cultural change, therefore, depends fundamentally upon modelling new values and behaviours that you expect to displace the existing ones. This is dependent upon actively and purposefully building the capacity for meaningful change to occur. So much effort around school and system improvement is predicated upon improving the system one school or one teacher at a time. This individual and incremental approach to change is not only slow but is also wholly inadequate to bring about improvement on a large scale. The only way to achieve large scale and lasting improvement, evidence would suggest, is to invest in collective capacity building and to harness the will, skill and persistence of everyone in the system and to build the collective expertise to make the system perform at a higher level (Fullan and Gallagher 2019). The chapters that follow in this book offer insights, critique, reflections and evidence of system transformation in action with all its successes, shortcomings and complexities. There are insights from policy makers, reformers, researchers and activists who bring their own unique perspective on the challenges of leading school and system improvement. There are commentaries on country wide reform as well as accounts of within system improvement journeys. These chapters offer a rich, authentic and sometimes, raw account of system transformation in various contexts. Collectively the chapters point towards some of the possibilities and pitfalls of securing improvement at the school and system level. We have argued elsewhere that ‘context matters’ when pursuing and attempting to bring about reform at scale (Harris and Jones 2015; Harris et al. 2016). The pages that follow reinforce this point and exemplify why contextual and cultural factors can not simply be removed from any serious consideration or analysis of school and system transformation. Contextual and cultural factors are powerful and important explanatory factors for the success and failure of many initiative or strategies aimed at ‘fixing’ the system that it would seem very unwise to ignore them. As the chapters in this book highlight, context and culture are not just a backdrop to the process of school and system transformation they are inherently and powerfully intertwined in the very fabric and infrastructure of improvement (Harris and Jones 2015). This is not to suggest that everything is so culturally and contextually bound-up that little can be said of a generic nature about system transformation and reform. Clearly, the opposite is true as we have a secure, extensive, empirical knowledge base on school and system effectiveness and improvement (Chapman et al. 2012). The problem arises, however, when some stories of system success override the evidence or offer partial accounts that ignore the lived reality of students, teachers and parents within that system.



Substantive accounts of system improvement (e.g. Ng 2017; Sahlberg 2011; Hargreaves and Shirley 2009) acknowledge the paradoxes and limitations of policy into practice, they are critical, reflective and challenging. They highlight the complexities of reform at scale and reinforce a policy learning agenda rather than a policy borrowing approach. By learning about the limitations, possibilities and realities of system transformation there is less likelihood of replicating failed initiatives or of borrowing out of context. In many ways, this book is a call to action. It is a call to think differently and more deeply about system reform. It is a call to look more critically at individual accounts of system success and it is a call to stop seeking solutions from elsewhere. Each of the chapters reveal how system improvement is hard fought and hard won, there truly are no simple solutions to complex problems. For those leading schools and school systems, the chapters that follow offer new accounts, new evidence, new insights and new perspectives on leading and transforming education systems that will help the process of policy learning.

References Chapman, C., Armstrong, P., Harris, A., Muijs, D., Reynolds, D., & Sammons, P. (Eds.). (2012). School effectiveness and improvement research, policy and practice: Challenging the Orthodoxy? London, New York Routledge. Crehan, L. (2017). Cleverlands: The Secrets Behind the Success of the World's Education Superpowers. Random House. Fullan, M. & Gallagher, M.J (2020) The Devil is in the Details: System Solutions for Equity, Excellence and Student Wellbeing, London New York SAGE Hargreaves, A. P., & Shirley, D. L. (Eds.). (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future for educational change. Corwin Press. Harris, A., & Jones, M. S. (2019). System Recall: Leading for Equity and Excellence in Education. Corwin. Harris, A., Jones, M., & Adams, D. (2016). Qualified to lead? A comparative, contextual and cultural view of educational policy borrowing. Educational Research, 58(2), 166-178. Harris, A., & Jones, M. S. (Eds.). (2015). Leading futures: Global perspectives on educational leadership. SAGE Publications India. Ng, P. T. (2017). Learning from Singapore: The power of paradoxes. London, Routledge. Raffe, D. (2011). Policy borrowing or policy learning? How (not) to improve education systems. CES Briefing, 57. Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finnish lessons. Columbia, Teachers College Press

Chapter 1

Leading and Transforming Education Systems: Two Canadian Examples Avis Glaze

1.1 Introduction Education systems across the world are redoubling their efforts to transform their schools and to improve outcomes. Providing equity and excellence, closing achievement gaps and paying attention to governance issues are primary motivations. The truth is that politicians are demanding these changes, parents and community members are expecting them, and educators want these changes to happen. Most important, students deserve improved outcomes. Developing educational cultures characterized by high expectations for learning and achievement is a primary objective of school administrators, teachers and political leaders alike. Ontario and Nova Scotia are two Canadian provinces that have been leaders in educational transformation. This chapter will discuss the Ontario journey to improve student learning and achievement and Nova Scotia’s determination to improve their governance structure. My first-hand account and close-up perspectives emanate from the leadership role I had in these transformations. These reform initiatives have been recognized internationally. Organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and McKinsey and Company acknowledged Canada’s leadership in system change: Perhaps the most important lesson that we can learn from international comparisons is that strong performance and improvement are always possible. Countries such as Japan, Korea, Finland and Canada display strong overall performance and, equally important, show that a disadvantaged socioeconomic background does not necessarily result in poor performance at school. (Schleicher & Stewart, 2008)

A. Glaze (B) Edu-Quest International Inc, Delta, BC, Canada e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_1



A. Glaze

In an article on transforming school systems, international guru Fullan (2012) uses the Ontario system as a case in point: …Improvements began within a year, and some eight years later, the province’s 900 high schools have shown an increase in graduation rates from 68 percent (2003–04) to 82 percent (2010–11), while reading, writing, and math results have gone up 15 percentage points across its 4,000 elementary schools since 2003. Fewer teachers and principals leave the profession in the first few years, and achievement gaps have been substantially narrowed for low-income students, the children of recent immigrants, and special-education students. In short, the entire system has dramatically improved.

Fullan (2012) concluded that the strategy of the McGuinty government at that time consisted of assertive goals and high expectations, combined with a strong commitment to developing partnerships with the education sector to develop capacity and ownership and to bring about continuous improvement in student learning and achievement. Canada in general, and Ontario specifically, did not achieve this reputation by chance. It came about as a result of targeted interventions and intentionality of purpose. Success can be attributed to a well thought out, research-informed strategy. As well, Ontario instituted a methodology to reform that called upon the ultimate professionalism of its teachers. When other countries were employing more negative and punitive approaches at that time, Ontario adopted a collaborative stance that focused on capacity building as the major strategy for improvement. It also meant that we harnessed the energy of key partners in developing and implementing the education reform agenda. In retrospect, and knowing what was happening in many countries across the globe, I must admit that we made some good decisions—one being the decision to engage and work collaboratively with our teachers unions, faculties of education, universities, colleges, principals’ associations, parents and all those who had a vested interest in the improvement of the education system. Instead of beating up on our teachers, calling them names as one government did, we demonstrated our respect for their professionalism in ways that were important to them. We listened to their advice and tried our best to support them throughout the reform process. Transformation #1: The Ontario Improvement Strategy

1.2 The Context: A Snapshot of Ontario, Canada Ontario is Canada’s largest province, home to some 14 million people and a public education system with roughly 2 million students, 120,000 educators, and 5,000 schools. As recently as 2002, this system was stagnant by virtually any measure

1 Leading and Transforming Education Systems: Two Canadian Examples


of performance. In October 2003, a new provincial government was elected with a mandate and commitment to transform it. It is important to note that Canada has no federal or national jurisdiction over K-12 education. Education is a provincial responsibility. Decisions are made and directions are established by each province. There is a Council on Ministers of Education (CMEC), a forum for policy discussion and idea sharing across the provinces and territories. But there is no national department of education as there is in many countries. Ontario has: • • • • • • • • • • •

Over 1 million km2 of land 2.1 million students 40% of Canada’s 33.6 million people (it is the most populous province) 60% of 225,000 immigrants who come to Canada annually Four education governance systems: English public, English Catholic, French public, French Catholic 4.5% French-speaking population Because of its diversity, there are numerous languages spoken in schools. The official languages are English and French. About 5,000 schools in 72 school districts, plus 30 school authorities Six school sites for deaf, blind and severely learning-disabled students run directly by the provincial Ministry of Education Grants for Student Needs (GSN) funding of $19B (CDN) in 2008–09 (a 29% increase compared to 2002–03) Declining enrolment of 4.5% (almost 90,000 students) between 2002–03 and 2008–09.

In 2003, we stated that many parents, community members and the media described education in Ontario as a system in “crisis.”Glaze, Mattingley and Andrews (2003). Understanding the system as it was described then will illuminate the progress that has been made and what the system looks like “now” in the eyes of many observers Glaze (2013). Prevailing Issues (2002–2003)

Strategy Results (2017–2018)

Flat lined achievement results

Continuous improvement in student achievement

Inequity in student results

Narrowing of achievement gaps

Disparate goals and priorities

Clear strategic goals. A focus on learning and achievement

Multiple, disjointed priorities

Priorities: achievement, wellbeing and public confidence

Limited reliance on research data

Research informed and data driven

Focus on compliance

Focus on professional accountability

Eroding confidence in public education

Increased confidence in public education (continued)


A. Glaze

(continued) Prevailing Issues (2002–2003)

Strategy Results (2017–2018)

Labour unrest within education

Extended period of labour peace

Rising enrolment in private schools

Increased public school enrolment

Disconnect—provincial and local priorities

Alignment and coherence at all levels of the system

Undoubtedly, there was a need for dramatic change and improvement in Ontario. So many factors converged at this time to make this possible. A new liberal government, led by Premier Dalton McGuinty, wanted to bring about meaningful change. With a focus on teaching and learning, Premier McGuinty was often described as “the education premier”—an earned title that reflected his commitment to the future of Ontario and the teaching profession. He was known to be more teacher-friendly than the previous government and, from my perspective, had the right approach to system change. He sought advice and perspectives on education from experts in Canada and around the world. Establishing a Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat to drive change was a key component of the strategy. I had the good fortune of being Ontario’s first Chief Student Officer and CEO of the Secretariat. The Ontario approach reflected an inspiring modus operandi. We worked collaboratively at creating a positive culture and incubator for reform. We removed fear and supported capacity building as a primary strategy for change. We did not believe in the one-size-fits all approach to transformation nor what is described as the “teabag” approach to leadership: “put them in hot water to see their strengths.” Under no circumstances did we subscribe to the strategy disparaging our teachers and principals. We eschewed that approach and, instead, made every effort to listen to and provide professional support to those who were expected to implement the reforms.

1.3 Approach to Reform The most important aspect of the Ontario strategy was the identification of three key goals. This was a dramatic reduction from the thirteen goals that we all tried to address in previous reform efforts. There is no doubt that a small number of precise goals helps to make improvement more realistic and attainable. The Ministry’s three main goals with the emphasis on well-being emphasized in recent years were: • Improve student achievement and well-being; • Reduce gaps in student achievement, and • Improve public confidence in the public education system.

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To my mind, the third goal of improving public confidence in the public education system is an important transformation imperative. This reflects my long-standing interest in the areas of public and media relations. If parents and community members are not satisfied with the performance of a system, they will certainly seek out alternatives. If the media is not aware of the innovations they will not be able to communicate them to the public. And too often in education, we think that communicating to the parents is what public relations is all about. Schools do communicate well with the parents of the children in their schools. But in some communities, especially with aging populations, those who have children in schools are in the minority. So there has to be a public relations initiative geared towards those who are not parents. Some of these individuals resent paying high taxes for education because they do not believe they derive direct benefits. Hence, building public confidence in public education systems needs to be a priority in educational transformation efforts. Taking the public for granted by not communicating regularly—an action that helps to build public confidence—is unwise. I remember serving on Ontario’s Royal Commission on Learning in the late nineties. Parents of modest means told us that they would mortgage their homes and send their children to private schools if the public schools did not improve. Improving both the performance and perception of public schools required urgent attention. Ontario now has one of the highest participation rates in public education with only a small percentage of parents opting to send their children to private schools. This was not always the case. It is a result of the interventions that were a part of the strategy and the subsequent improvement in system performance. Within this culture we worked at: • Rejecting the “shame and blame” “one-size-fits-all” approach to education reform • Ensuring that excellence and equity go hand in hand. • Holding high expectations for all children regardless of background or personal circumstances. • Developing a common understanding, with concomitant actions, to underscore the belief that poverty, for example, should not determine destiny. • Focusing on capacity building as the cornerstone for system improvement, and • Choosing instructional improvement and leadership development as a priority to ensure that all aspiring, beginning and experienced leaders had the knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions necessary for teaching and leadership success. In brief, the strategy consisted of an emphasis on high expectations, combined with a commitment to partner with the education sector to build capacity and ownership for improved student learning and achievement. There are certainly conclusions to be drawn from this approach. For example, systems will be successful if they focus on a small number of key goals: build capacity on the part of the practitioners, implement research-informed strategies, persist with the process over time, monitor progress and do mid-course corrections based on the lessons learned.


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There were other innovations that supported the strategy. The introduction of Full Day Kindergarten in Ontario provided opportunities for more than 250,000 children to build skills and knowledge that saw them performing at higher rates of reading, writing and vocabulary well past Grade 2. Implementing smaller class-sizes from JK to Grade 3 was very popular with teachers. Resources were provided to hire more than 13,000 teachers to ensure the small classes were implemented and that teachers of subjects such as art, physical education and music were reinstituted. More than 600 new schools were built or refurbished, providing a meeting place for community members. Other initiatives such as the Accepting Schools Act, a comprehensive antibullying legislation, addressed that growing issue in schools. As a result of all of these efforts, graduation rates increased significantly and more students were able to achieve a post-secondary education.

1.3.1 The Ontario Improvement Strategy: Personal Reflections, Lessons Learned Many lessons can be learned when individuals embark on the herculean task of whole system transformation. Although systems and contexts differ considerably, there are still strategies that work across cultures and some that do not. Individuals and systems do learn from the successes and failures of others. With constant reflection and critical analysis of our actions, we went through several phases of the implementation process. At all times, capacity building was our main focus. We learned many lessons about school improvement. One of the most important was that whole system reform required strategies for engagement, commitment, ownership and sustainability. We had to pay special attention to what McGregor (2006) referred to as “the human side of enterprise”. Within that new culture that was created, specific actions had to be implemented with a sense of urgency and a high degree of coherence. School improvement has to be a whole-school responsibility. Schools must become more collaborative and, as Hargreaves and Shirley (2012) suggest, collective inquiry must be a primary goal. Educators are encouraged to establish a relentless focus on a few agreed-upon priorities, bearing in mind that we cannot do everything well all at once. School improvement should focus on the most urgent learning needs of our students. This is more likely to happen when we establish a few non-negotiable, research-informed, strategies that everyone will implement. The ultimate purpose of any improvement process is that it results in action in the school and, most certainly, in the classroom, resulting in improved student learning. This requires intentional efforts to develop a safe environment for staff to ask the tough questions and discuss the challenges inherent in the implementation process in an open and honest manner.

1 Leading and Transforming Education Systems: Two Canadian Examples


Implementation matters. In organizations where change initiatives fail, it is often because of inconsistent or superficial implementation. It is important that we monitor implementation and student progress and be prepared to make mid-course corrections to improvement plans as needed. Communicating regularly is another key ingredient. It is important that we keep everyone informed of goals, progress and next steps. Too often the parents and the public are not aware of what the focus is and how they can play a role in the school improvement efforts. Building coalitions to support learning though community outreach and engagement make school improvement the collaborative and inclusive process that it should be. Finally, we must keep the sense of urgency alive and stay the course in spite of the challenges and setbacks that inevitably occur. To summarize, some of the key conclusions and lessons learned about transforming education systems were: 1. Capacity building at all levels of the systems of those who are expected to do the work and was the hallmark of the Ontario strategy. 2. Collaborative inquiry and cooperative practices facilitate a supportive learning culture. 3. For large-scale change to happen, it doesn’t require punitive forms of accountability and what is being described as “teacher proof curricula”. 4. Ontario continues to show that partnerships with the widest possible cross-section of professionals and institutions—among educators, policymakers, unions, parents and communities—are essential for the success of any reform. 5. By building supportive networks of educators throughout the province, Ontario was able to spread successful practices and to facilitate multi-pronged communication webs and links. 6. Ontario was determined to achieve both equity and excellence. 7. In order to bring about systemic reform at all levels of a system, leaders must pay assiduous attention to the human side of the enterprise. People matter in reform initiatives. There must be sensitivity to their needs, aspirations and where they are on the willingness to change continuum. Without alienating the late adopters, leaders must have the skills to move them along the continuum towards ownership for the reform imperatives. 8. Desired outcomes can be achieved with a kinder, gentler approach, focused on respect for the professionalism of staff, holding them to high expectations student learning and achievement, and for their own learning. Intentionality of purpose and steadfastness of will are key elements success system reform.


A. Glaze

Transformation #2: The Administrative Review of Nova Scotia’s Education Governance System Nova Scotia has a population of 940,000. There are 380 schools in 8 regional school boards—seven English-language and one French-language. Many international students, enrolled in secondary and post-secondary institutions, attend the schools from some 153 countries. There are 9,000 teachers and approximately 119,000 students, and there were concerns about the declining enrollment of 10.6%

1 Leading and Transforming Education Systems: Two Canadian Examples


between 2008–09 and 2017–18. The political leaders take education funding very seriously, even in circumstances of declining enrolment which is a concern in that province as well. Some $1.5B, an 27% increase, was spent on education in 2012–13 compared to 2003–04. The Mandate of this reform initiative was to review • Roles, responsibilities, and administrative structure within education system governing school boards, school board central office administration, and the Department of Education and Early childhood development • Processes and management structure in all areas of administration and operations (e.g. human resources, finance, transportation, programs) to ensure effective and efficient use of resources • Increased accountability, transparency, effectiveness, and efficiency in decision making including budgetary decisions and resource allocation • The strengthening of interagency service delivery for children, youth, and their families This review, the first for the system in more than 20 years, also considered the cultural, linguistic and geographic contexts of the Nova Scotia education system and current government priorities for public education. It was necessary at first to delineate a few key principles for decision-making. These were divided into two categories; foundational and supporting principles: The Foundational Principles

Supporting Principles

Student learning and achievement

Integration, alignment and coherence

Equity and excellence

Trust, respect, and transparency

Well-being, character development, global citizenship

Empowered and responsible Responsiveness and flexibility within established parameters and goals Stewardship Efficiency and effectiveness Clarity of roles and responsibilities

1.4 The Consultations Consultations were held for approximately 7 weeks in key centres across the province. As well, there was an online survey to which 1,500 individuals responded. The 91 consultations with groups and 500 individuals included elected boards, administrative


A. Glaze

boards, superintendents, Department of Education staff, teachers, principals, parents, stakeholder groups, local high school students, mental health professionals, faculty of education staff and other community organizations. It was very important for me to consult with individuals who are not in the habit of preparing briefs or seeking out reviewers to offer their perspectives. I asked specifically to visit the Waterville Youth Correctional Facilities, and in addition, to speak with Children in Care. These two meetings were among the most memorable aspect of this review. I will always remember how passionately these young people spoke about teachers, their schools, and their insights into what is good about education and what needs to change. Student voice is very important in any efforts to improve school systems. The discussions in the different types of high schools I visited was very instructive. It was noted in the report that some students felt lost and unloved by their teachers and the school. Many appeared to be alternatively vulnerable and defiant. Some of their stories, especially from those in correctional institutions were deeply distressing. They reaffirmed my mantra that ‘there can be no throw-away kids.” But in the final analysis, the vast majority of students loved and appreciated their teachers. The level of caring and concern on the part of those who taught and cared for these young people was evident. I feel strongly that facilities for children in care and correctional institutions deserve our attention and vigilance to ensure that young people are given the education, skills, counselling and other supports to allow them to return to their neighbourhood schools wherever possible. As I have in previous consultations, I concluded that teachers are our unsung heroes. Their dedication to excellence, equity and inclusive practices is certainly the cornerstone of a good school. The teachers I met in these institutions deserve many encomiums for their service and dedication.

1.5 What We Heard Understandably, processes such as this consultation would attract those who had complaints about the system. In my experience, very few people take the time to come out to offer positive comments. It is as if there is no need to provide positive feedback. It is taken for granted. There was therefore a litany of complaints about roles, relationships, lack of trust, lack of effectiveness and efficiency, the fact that student achievement was below the Canadian average, and general dissatisfaction with the status quo.

1 Leading and Transforming Education Systems: Two Canadian Examples


1.6 What We Recommended The report identified 6 catalysts for change and 22 recommendations. Catalyst 1: Organize the System to Focus on Student Learning and Achievement 1. Shift from a system of nine disconnected silos to one coherent, aligned model focussed on student learning and achievement 2. Maintain the CSAP French Language Board provincial board structure with some changes Catalyst 2: Concentrate needed resources into classrooms and schools 3. Move teaching support specialists (literacy leads, math mentors, etc.) out of regional education offices and into classrooms four days a week, with the fifth day dedicated to collaborative planning and preparation for the next week. 4. Encourage cross-fertilization between the Department and schools, bringing in classroom teachers to fill 50 percent of Department of Education (EECD) curriculum positions and deploying Department staff in the system. 5. Make all schools “wrap-around facilities”, where students and families can promptly access support from any government department, not just for education, but also support from mental health professionals, health care providers, justice, family services, and so on. 6. Give teachers and principals access to funding and responsibility for the selection of text books and learning materials to best support their teaching. Catalyst 3: Make the system better for teachers and principals 7.

Create a provincial College of Educators, an independent body to license, govern, discipline and regulate the teaching profession, helping to improve public confidence in the education system across the province. 8. Remove principals and vice-principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) and into a new professional association. Seniority, pension, benefits must not be impacted and there should be an option for those administrators who may wish to return to teaching and the NSTU. 9. Create maintenance and operations positions such as a building manager for schools or families of schools, freeing principals from such non-educational tasks. 10. Provide support for accounting and financial functions in schools, rather than making them the responsibility for principals. 11. Ensure teachers have the mobility and choice to work in any region in Nova Scotia by removing barriers in collective agreements while maintaining seniority rights. 12. Create a co-ordinated professional development system for teachers and principals, tied directly to teaching standards, student achievement, curriculum priorities, such as math, literacy, and culturally responsive teaching and learning strategies that can be readily implemented in their classrooms.


A. Glaze

13. Make clear the importance of extracurricular activities, sports, and community volunteer by: • • • •

Creating a dedicated Physical Activity and Extracurricular Coordinator Streamlining transportation and volunteer policies Providing additional support for the position of Athletic Director Identifying Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation (NSSAF) in the organizational structure of the Department to show it as a priority for schools, students, and the EECD.

Catalyst 4: Increase trust, accountability, and transparency 14. Create an independent Student Progress Assessment Office (SPAO) taking responsibility away from the EECD and establish an assessment division to develop high-quality student assessments, reporting directly to the public on province-wide results, and ensuring the assessments are aligned with the curriculum. 15. Establish an Education Ombudsperson—an independent officer to investigate and resolve concerns or complaints on administrative decisions and practices that affect the education of the children of Nova Scotia. Catalyst 5: Ensure equity and excellence in all schools across the province 16. The EECD must create new Executive Directors or similar level positions of influence and decision-making power for African Nova Scotian achievement and Mi’kmaw Education. 17. Establish a dedicated unit in the Department, in collaboration with the Office of Immigration, for emerging immigrant communities in school, with supports for students, teachers and parents. 18. Develop a coordinated workforce strategy to identify, recruit and retain teachers, specialists and educational support staff in the communities that need them. In addition, particular attention should be paid to: a. Increasing diversity in teaching and educational leadership programs, particularly African Nova Scotian, Mi’kmaw and Acadian teachers. b. Hiring French language teachers and support workers for both CSAP and French Immersion programming, and English as an Additional (EAL) teachers. 19. Develop targeted educational strategies for specific challenges in the system: a. b. c. d.

A French Language Education Strategy A rural Education Strategy A strategy for children living in poverty A strategy for children in care in the province

1 Leading and Transforming Education Systems: Two Canadian Examples


Catalyst 6: Streamline the department’s administration and operations and invest savings in the classroom 20. The EECD, in concert with the Departments of Finance and Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal, should create a transparent, predictable and documented multi-year (five-to-ten) capital funding process for schools. The following elements should be included: a. A mechanism to invest in existing schools to ensure that they are maintained appropriately b. A review of excess space in schools by an independent reviewer c. Improved planning of school construction and renovation projects d. Synchronization of the fiscal year and the school year as part of the multiyear funding initiative. 21. Ensure that a new funding formula for schools is in place to replace the Hogg formula to better reflect the priorities of today and the decade ahead. 22. Any financial savings realized in carrying out these recommendations must be documented and shared publicly, with all savings going directly into schools.

1.7 An Implementation Strategy—The Key to Successful Reform Included in the report are some key components of and steps to ensure successful implementation. This acknowledges the fact that so many studies and their recommendations do not achieve their goals because of spotty or shallow implementation of improvement imperatives. Ineffective or insufficient implementation is the greatest roadblock to school system improvement. An effective implementation strategy has a number of important components. I drew upon research findings and integrated them with my own experience in educational reform (Glaze, 2018). Key actions include the following: • Establish a Guiding Coalition with members including: head of government, minister of education deputies, union representation, directors of education/ superintendents, business, parent and teacher representation. • Select a lead person. This individual is a catalyst for change and a champion of the initiative. He or she must be knowledgeable about change processes and well respected within the field. • Develop a plan with clear priorities. A good plan is sharp and focussed with a small number of key priorities. • Have clear timelines and measurable indicators of success. • Use strategies based on best research practices. • Build a team for support. A key implementation task is to select a team of people who work together and support one another in achieving important goals. One


• • •

• • • • • •

A. Glaze

example is to ensure that each school and region has a School Improvement Team working in concert with a Regional Improvement Team. Provide on-going professional learning opportunities and development. Capacity building is key. Provide required resources: human, financial and material. Select a few non-negotiables goals within each plan at the local level. Allow some variation in local priorities if schools are already at the required level of proficiency in a particular subject. All subjects are important but reading is the gateway to all other subjects. Therefore proficiency in reading is non-negotiable. Require consistent and deep implementation of selected goals. Too often, individuals want to move on the new goals without the concerted efforts required to implement, embed and sustain the gains. Identify indicators of progress. It is vital to collect data to see if progress toward the goal is being made and to share that information broadly so that everyone can assess the progress and make mid-course corrections, if necessary. Monitor progress closely, regularly and purposefully in both student achievement and the implementation of the plan. Stay the course. Significant issues cannot be addressed effectively unless there is a multi-year commitment. Ensure early wins and celebrate success, and Communicate widely and often.

1.8 Response from the Minister of Education to the Recommendation in the Report A few weeks after the report was submitted, the Minister of Education issued his response stating that the changes to the education system will provide more support for students and give communities more input. He said that this is a moment where government needs to press forward with a focus on those who need these changes the most—Nova Scotia’s students. The government accepted the spirit and intent of all 22 recommendations and stated that they will now work with partners in the education system to help implement the recommendations. Our singular focus is on improving student success…This is a moment where we need to press forward together with a focus on those who need us most—our students. We have great people working in the system who are completely committed and dedicated to our kids. It’s our system that’s fractured. I accept the spirit and intent of the recommendations in this report. Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development (Arab)

While accepting the spirit of all recommendations the Minister specified the changes government would implement immediately were: 1. Unify the system by dissolving the seven elected regional school boards and create one provincial advisory council. The structure of the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial will not change

1 Leading and Transforming Education Systems: Two Canadian Examples


2. Ensure that a portion of the money saved will go to enhance the role and influence of school advisory councils for all schools (or families of schools) in the province to strengthen the local voice in schools 3. Change the name of superintendents to regional executive directors and enhance their role to focus on student achievement, reporting directly to the deputy minister of Education and Early Childhood Development 4. Move principals and vice-principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, while protecting salaries, pensions and benefit. 5. Move teaching support specialists (literacy leads, math mentors) out of regional education offices and into classrooms four days a week, with the fifth day dedicated to planning and preparation 6. Create an independent Provincial College of Educators The full list of government’s initial changes and a copy of the report is online at ednet.ns.ca/adminreview. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union took great exception to some of the recommendations made in the report. They took a strike vote to bolster their efforts to influence the government response and the actions that would follow. Reports indicate that some of the most troublesome recommendations for the union were the removal of principals and vice-principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the establishment of a College of Educators. It was impressive to see how many Nova Scotians became involved in the discussions which ensued on the future of their education system.

1.9 Challenges Challenges are inherent in changes of this magnitude of system reform. Some include the fact that those who are expected to do the work already feel overburdened with the constant demands placed on them. There is still a need to remove distractions and barriers to ensure successful implementation. Resources are often a challenge. The governments of both Ontario and Nova Scotia put large sums of money into the system even though they are experiencing financial challenges. The premiers of Ontario and Nova Scotia must be commended for ensuring that there were resources to implement the initiatives. Ensuring that children in special education programs, for example, receive the resources they need to catch up where necessary is essential if we are to close achievement gaps. As well, all schools must rely on using high impact, research informed strategies that work. Having a system in place to measure impact and effectiveness of strategies is essential. Creating conditions for teachers to have both individualized and school-based capacity building is vital. Not all teachers need training on classroom management, for example. There must be a system in place to listen to what teachers and principal say they need to improve their skills and ensure that they can pursue


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the learning that is important to them. Individualization and customization are keys to successful education reform. We are doing so many things well and have made so much progress in educating a wider range of students to a higher level. To use the well-worn phrase, we are raising the bar and closing achievement gaps. Never before have we had such a rich research base and teachers who are, themselves, engaged in school-based research. Principals are focussing on what works in administering schools and are working effectively with the communities they serve. The questions remains: Do we have the will and the skills to bring about success for all students regardless of demographic circumstances or other factors that locate them in society? The answer is a resounding “yes!” The teachers, principals and other educators with whom I have worked internationally are certainly prepared to meet these challenges. I hope that you share my optimism for the future of education. I am convinced that, in spite of the challenges those engaged in education face each day, we have the skills and, most certainly, the will to educate our children successfully.

1.10 Addendum to article: This article represents a point in time in education in Ontario. Time has elapsed. The new Premier and Minister of Education of the new government which is now in power have made many changes to the education system. You are encouraged to visit the Ontario Ministry of Education website to learn more about these changes.

References Arab, P. (2020). Response to Glaze’s Report [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.patriciaarab. ca/response-to-glaze-report/ Fullan M. (2012). Transforming school systems an entire system at a time. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-sector/our-insights/transformingschools-an-entire-system-at-a-time. Glaze, A. (2013). How Ontario spread successful practices across 5000 schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(3), 44–50. Glaze, A. (2018). Raise the bar: A coherent and responsive education administrative system for Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia: Halifax. Glaze, A., Mattingley, R., & Andrews, R. (2013). High school graduation; K-12 strategies that work. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2012). The global fourth way: The quest for educational excellence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. McGregor, D. (2006). The human side of enterprise (annotated ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Schleicher, A., & Stewart, V. (2008). Learning from world-class schools. Educational Leadership, 66(2), 44–51.

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Avis Glaze has been recognised for her work in leadership development, student achievement, school and system improvement, character development and equity of outcomes for all students. As Ontario’s first Chief Student Achievement Officer and founding CEO of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, she has contributed to improving student achievement in schools across Canada, and has also served as Ontario’s Education Commissioner and Senior Adviser to the Minister of Education. Dr. Glaze has experience at several levels of the education system, in both rural and urban areas, from working as a classroom teacher, guidance counselor, special education teacher and secondary school administrator to being a director of education on school boards.

Chapter 2

Leading and Transforming Education Systems: A System Approach to Curriculum Reform in Wales Graham Donaldson

2.1 Introduction The role of the curriculum in education reform has taken a back seat over the last 25 years while policy and academic debates have focused largely on issues of content, effectiveness and improvement. Driven by national and international measures of attainment, often allied to ideological beliefs, governments have become increasingly interventionist in seeking to challenge the hitherto ‘secret garden’ of schooling. The application of management principles drawn from business, changes to structures, strengthened accountability and increasing competition amongst schools have all featured in the drive to raise standards. More recently, as the results of these initiatives have proved disappointing, attention has shifted to high quality teaching and leadership as being the keys to educational success. Fundamental assumptions about the value and nature of what was being taught have remained unchallenged. Consideration of the underpinning purposes of education has remained largely neglected throughout this intense period of reform. At the same time, however, the wider environment has been characterised by increasingly powerful forces driving changes in how we work and relate to each other. In particular, technological changes are not only accelerating the pace of change but are increasingly transforming fundamental aspects of daily life. Expectations have multiplied in relation to what schools can and should do in response to such changes. The Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) 2030 Project (OECD, 2018a) identifies growing issues of curriculum overload and superficiality as well as a considerable time lag between the identification of learning needs and subsequent effective implementation. As a result, in many countries the school curriculum has become unwieldy and less relevant and schools and teachers have struggled to cope. At the time of writing this G. Donaldson (B) University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_2



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chapter the implications of Covid19 for education were still unfolding but likely to be significant. Although the nature of probable change remained unclear, a reconsideration of the purposes of school education and an acceleration of the impact of technology on learning are likely to be to the fore. A number of countries have sought to respond to this changing context through a radical reappraisal of the purposes of schooling and the nature of the curriculum. The 2007 Melbourne Declaration in Australia and recent education reforms in Singapore, for example, have pointed towards educational purposes framed in terms of how young people should develop as they move through school education. International organisations such as the OECD, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have all explored the need to develop competences that transcend more traditional forms of learning. Within the United Kingdom, significant curriculum reforms in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have signalled moves away from the national curriculum reforms of 1988 and beyond. In England, the position is more complex as, while reforms to the curriculum have tended to reaffirm the importance of content on a subject basis, academies are not required to follow the national curriculum. This chapter will focus on current developments in Wales where major educational reform reflects an approach to addressing the imperatives for improvement while seeking to learn from experience about effective educational change from the last quarter of a century of education reform.

2.2 Improvement Challenges Curriculum reform is typically faced with three interconnected challenges: defining the purposes to be achieved through the curriculum; designing a framework that operationalises those purposes; and creating the conditions that will allow that curriculum to become a reality for all young people in diverse schools across a country. Deficiencies in meeting any one of these challenges is likely to diminish or even defeat the chances of reform having the desired impact. Traditional approaches to defining a curriculum have typically involved the delineation of subjects and content to be covered for specified amounts of time at different stages in education. For schools and teachers, the purpose of their work was to cover the specified curriculum and to allow pupils to acquire the associated learning to a satisfactory standard. However, pressures to react to changes in the external environment and related policy requirements have increasingly led to the specified curriculum becoming overloaded and, in many cases, superficial. The resultant problem of a ‘mile wide inch thick’ curriculum is highlighted in the OECD’s 2030 Project. Similarly, the scope and pace of change arising from global, economic and social developments can create an inevitable time lag in the response of the curriculum to such change. Schleicher (2018) summed up the challenge facing education policy,

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“We are facing unprecedented challenges—social, economic and environmental— driven by accelerating globalisation and a faster rate of technological developments. At the same time, those forces are providing us with myriad new opportunities for human advancement. The future is uncertain and we cannot predict it; but we need to be open and ready for it.” Developments in science and technology pose huge challenges in ensuring that what is taught matches current knowledge. Today’s and tomorrow’s citizens are or will be faced with issues whose ethical and technical roots require the ability to engage constructively with ambiguity and uncertainty. A school curriculum that only teaches and tests the certainty of specified content is unlikely to equip young people to address such issues. Equally, the complexity of the connected world will require a population with cautious scepticism allied to the ability to skilfully navigate and test a multiplicity of sources of ‘news’ and ‘facts’. A developing thread in current curriculum policy is a move away from curriculum coverage towards the development of capacities or competences that will allow young people themselves to grow and develop as the world in which they live changes. Such an approach sees the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes as transcending but not wholly replacing traditional subject coverage. The resultant competences typically relate to lifelong learning, creativity, citizenship and personal agency. More specifically, the curriculum as whole may be designed to include the development of: strong basic skills including digital competence; deep conceptual understanding; connected, coherent and authentic knowledge; creativity and problem solving; learning to collaborate; and ethical understanding and values. Clarity about the purposes or competences to be developed through the curriculum leads to the equally complex task of translating such aspirations into a workable framework or specification. Issues of content, pedagogy, progression in learning and assessment must all be addressed in ways that take forward the desired purposes or competences. Assuming that the definitional and design challenges are met, there remains the task of creating the conditions within which this kind of curriculum can be realised in practice. The recent history of the impact of educational reform is at best mixed with high aspirations failing to be translated into reality for all pupils. Too often, reform is driven and supported by those close to the policy centre while those who will have to implement it in practice remain relatively detached from its intentions. Hattie (2009, p. 254) concludes that, “We have in education a long history of innovation but it rarely touches but a chosen few.” Similarly, the OECD 2030 Project also identifies implementation as a major challenge for curriculum development. Research evidence suggests that the reasons for the relative failure of reforms to take root in the forms originally intended may lie in a failure to understand the nature of the context in schools and in insufficient attention being paid to the complexity and interconnectedness of education. Priestley et al. (2015), in analysing the implications of teacher agency for successful reform, suggest an ecological model within which teacher agency is “…the outcome of the interaction of individual capacity with environing conditions.”(p. 17)


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The culture and structure of schools present particular challenges for reform. Teachers work within a highly structured but relatively atomistic environment. Their working day is set for them but they have high degrees of apparent autonomy within their classrooms. The challenge for reform, therefore, is to penetrate beyond the ‘classroom walls’ and influence or constrain that autonomy in ways that reflect policy intentions. Many reform programmes have either taken teacher acceptance of reform as a given or have attempted to drive teachers to deliver change. In particular, accountability mechanisms such as tight performance measurement or regular inspection have been used to attempt to secure compliance with the principles and practices of reform. However, such outside-in approaches can fail to secure the full engagement of teachers and lead to somewhat mechanistic or superficial implementation of reform (Elmore, 2007; Payne, 2013). Burns and Cerna (2016) highlight trends in the educational landscape that make simple research, development and dissemination approaches less likely to succeed. They point to the need for those who will have to implement reform to have more direct involvement and ownership of its goals and principles. They also see the need for a whole-system vision that keeps the focus on processes rather than structures and a better alignment of roles and responsibilities. Successful reform is not a one-off event or initiative but an inherent characteristic of a flexible and adaptive education system that can react to change and unexpected events. A number of countries have already embarked on reform programmes that reflect this growing body of evidence about the need for a re-imagined school curriculum and an ecological approach to reform. Within the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales exemplify aspects of this new thinking about reform. Wales, in particular, is attempting to address both curriculum reform and a co-constructive approach to development and implementation.

2.3 Systemic Reform in Wales Prior to the devolution of education to the newly created Welsh Assembly in 1999, school education in Wales was closely aligned to England. Hitherto strong confidence in the quality of Welsh school education was dented following a relatively poor performance in the OECD 2009 PISA survey in which the performance of Welsh 15-year-olds was significantly below the OECD average, in particular for reading and mathematics. There followed a stronger policy focus on school improvement and measures to challenge perceived complacency in the system by strengthening accountability. In 2012, the Welsh Government introduced an Improving Schools Plan (Welsh Government 2012) that set in train a number of significant initiatives in assessment and accountability. National Reading and Numeracy Tests were introduced along with a statutory requirement to report on pupils’ progress in relation to expectations set in a national Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF). Annual appraisals of teachers and school leaders were introduced to strengthen performance management. Schools

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were grouped into 4 colour-coded bands according to their need for external support. Although not intended, the coding was seen as an identification of school performance and those in the lowest, red, band could see themselves or be seen by others as ‘failing’. Concerns about the performance of the system continued to grow and, in 2014, the Welsh Government invited the OECD to undertake a policy review of Welsh education. The OECD’s (2014) report, Improving Schools in Wales, identified Wales’s comprehensive school system, positive learning environments and good teacherstudent relations as good features of Welsh education. In particular, it highlighted Wales’s commitment to equity and inclusion, citing the fact that student performance was less dependent on a student’s school and socio-economic background than the OECD average. However, the OECD report raised some major concerns about the performance and the strategic direction of Welsh education. It saw a lack of coherence in the totality of assessment and evaluation arrangements and commented that, ‘…Wales has struggled to strike a balance between accountability and improvement’. It also said that, ‘… the pace of reform has been high and lacks a long-term vision, an adequate school improvement infrastructure and a clear implementation strategy all stakeholders share.’ Partly in response to the OECD report, the Welsh Government outlined a new reform programme, Qualified for Life (Welsh Government 2014). Pressures were also building around the national curriculum. A number of reports commissioned by the government were calling for extensions to the curriculum; including a stronger Welsh dimension and more content being included in the ‘core’. In response to these pressures, Graham Donaldson (author of this chapter) was asked by the Welsh Government to undertake an independent review of its national curriculum and assessment arrangements. His 2015 report, Successful Futures, (Donaldson 2015) supported the OECD finding that there was a need to inject a renewed sense of purpose into school education in Wales. The report’s 68 recommendations not only outlined a radically different approach to the curriculum but also proposed a fresh approach to education reform. Donaldson recommended that the curriculum should pursue four broad purposes. It should seek to develop young people as: successful, capable learners; ethical, informed citizens; enterprising, creative contributors; and healthy, confident individuals. The report recommended a new curriculum structure with a more direct focus on the connections across learning and the ability to apply learning creatively. It proposed changes to progression and assessment designed to encourage a smoother passage for young people’s learning across the period of schooling. Donaldson also proposed related changes to governance, professional learning, leadership and accountability that he believed were necessary if the curriculum reform was to be successful. Following a period of consultation, the Welsh Government accepted the recommendations in full and a major programme of reform was set in train. Following a follow-up OECD Review (OECD 2017), the Welsh Government outlined a ‘transformational’ reform programme in its publication, Education in Wales: Our national mission, Action Plan 2017-21. That document outlined its planned educational reforms centring on the development of radical curriculum and


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assessment arrangements, supported by four ‘enabling objectives’. These enabling objectives involved: • • • •

developing a high-quality education profession inspirational leaders working collaboratively to raise standards strong and inclusive schools committed to excellence, equity and wellbeing robust assessment, evaluation and accountability arrangements supporting a selfimproving system

In his introduction to the Review, Schleicher outlined what the OECD saw as the main features of the Welsh reforms (2017) saying that, “…the Welsh approach to reform has moved from a piecemeal and short-term policy orientation towards one that is guided by long-term vision and is characterised by a process of co-construction with key stakeholders.” The first iteration of the new Curriculum for Wales was published in April 2019. Publication of this draft was followed by a period of consultation to end July 2019 and a further revised version by January 2020. Full adoption up to year seven is planned to begin in September 2022, with full realisation by 2025. Apart from the new approach to the purposes and design of the curriculum, the most innovative aspects of the Welsh reforms lie in its adoption of subsidiarity and co-construction in the development of the curriculum, in its approach to professional learning and in its significant departure from hitherto ‘high stakes’ accountability measures.

2.4 Subsidiarity and Co-construction Successful Futures (2015) recommended that the new national Welsh curriculum should be developed and realised on the principle of subsidiarity. It quoted Charles Handy (1995) who described subsidiarity as ‘…the idea of reverse delegation—the delegation by the parts to the centre’. The recommendation therefore went beyond the idea of empowerment, which suggests that power is being given away, to an approach that builds from the classroom out. The Welsh Government interpreted the subsidiarity principle in terms of a coconstructive approach to the development of the curriculum. It established a governance framework that sought to balance the government’s role in setting the strategic direction for the development with the direct engagement of schools and key delivery organisations. In particular, ‘pioneer’ schools drawn from across Wales were to be central to the elaboration and realisation of that direction. The central machinery involved the establishment of a ‘Change Board’ to oversee the development and to advise the Cabinet Secretary for Education about progress. It was chaired by the Director General responsible for education within Welsh Government and had representation from the key bodies and organisations in Wales responsible for different areas of education including Estyn, the education inspectorate.

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A Programme Board, reporting to the Change Board and chaired by the Director of Education in Welsh Government, was responsible for monitoring and supporting operational delivery. Again, its membership was drawn from those organisations responsible for the development of the curriculum and associated enabling policies. The wider group of organisations with a direct interest in the reforms was represented in a Stakeholder Group that included further and higher education, teacher unions and parents’ organisations. Thus far, the structure might appear similar to that which would be expected in a more traditional ‘research, development and dissemination’ approach. However, there are a number of more unusual features of the overall governance and development process that drew on the original Successful Futures’s philosophy and recommendations. In particular, the influential but non-executive roles given to an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) and to a Curriculum and Assessment Group (CAG); the direct involvement of an action research project on progression and assessment; and the leadership roles of regional consortia and pioneer schools. Taken together these features of the reform were all designed to entrench a culture of co-construction. Unusually, the IAG was chaired by the author of Successful Futures (and also of this chapter). The decision to ask Donaldson to chair the group reflected the determination of Welsh Government to affirm its commitment to delivering Successful Futures in full and to counter any scepticism about its adoption of a less directive role than had been its practice hitherto. The membership of IAG reflected individual practitioners with established reputations who could both interrogate progress with the development and bring direct experience to bear on discussions. IAG, therefore, had a ‘critical friend’ role whose influence would be brought to bear through engagement with those directly involved in the development. CAG consisted of leading academics and individuals with policy/professional experience who could provide support and challenge to the developmental activities of the ‘pioneer schools’. The establishment of CAG was intended to ensure that up-to-date research and other evidence-informed thinking and that the specifics of development were subject to expert external scrutiny. It is important to note, however, that as with IAG, CAG did not have an executive role and final decisions remained with those directly engaged in strategy and development. The action research project involved two universities: the University of Wales Trinity St David’s and the University of Glasgow. Researchers from both universities worked with the pioneer schools taking forward the development of Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE) that were at the heart of the new curriculum framework. The focus was on ensuring that the approaches to progression and assessment arising from the development were supported by sound research evidence. The curriculum framework recommended in Successful Futures and endorsed in Curriculum for Wales was to be built round the pursuit of four curriculum purposes realised through the six AoLEs and three cross curriculum responsibilities. The issues underlying the development of this framework and its realisation in practice in schools across Wales are complex. Conventional approaches to development would probably have seen the creation of expert groups to address these complexities followed by the presentation of their findings in a form that could be rolled out


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across the country. However, the Welsh Government, having accepted the Successful Futures recommendations, adopted a strategy of co-construction with a network of ‘pioneer schools’ taking a leading role in development. Schools nominated themselves to be pioneers through their regional consortium and were then confirmed by Welsh Government. Initially, 12 schools were directly engaged in developing a Digital Competence Framework in line with a recommendation in Successful Futures. In November 2015, sixty-three schools were identified as ‘curriculum pioneers’ and a further sixty-seven as ‘New Deal pioneers’ with a focus on professional learning. In addition, 30 Welsh-medium schools formed a further network. The 172 pioneer schools were selected to reflect different sectors and areas of the country. Adjustments were made to address early imbalances in these respects. They met as a full group occasionally but most of the work was undertaken in task-related sub-groups. The announcement of the establishment of the pioneer network by the then Minister for Education and Skills made it clear that pioneer schools should, ’… work closely together and with their own clusters, networks and wider stakeholder groups, to ensure that as many of our schools as possible are engaged in this exciting agenda from the outset.’ The intention, therefore, was that the pioneer approach should spread beyond the schools in the network to engage schools throughout Wales in taking development forward. The combination of stakeholder membership of the governance structure, the direct input from research and academic expertise, and the lead role of the pioneer schools reflected the Welsh Government’s commitment to co-construction. Collaboration across the system was seen as a main feature of the reform, both in its development and subsequent realisation.

2.5 Professional Learning The Welsh Government’s (2017) Action Plan established ‘…Developing a highquality education profession’ as its first ‘enabling objective’. Actions include revised teaching standards, significant improvements to initial teacher education, a clearer role for regional consortia to enhance collaborative working and the establishment of a Welsh Leadership Academy. The approach envisages building professional capacity in advance of and alongside the reform of the curriculum. It is not designed just to train teachers in relation to specific features of the reform but to establish a profession capable of taking the opportunities offered by the greater freedom of the new curriculum. The model of professional learning emerging in Wales reflects aspects of the Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) guidelines on building professional capital. It seeks to establish a collaborative culture involving schools and teachers working together with external sources of expertise and support. In that sense, it is seeking to establish a sustainable model of professional learning that can adapt to or even anticipate emerging trends and pressures without major externally driven change programmes.

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An important aspect of the model is the development of schools as learning organisations. The OECD are working with a number of schools to develop a Welsh approach in the context of wider work it is undertaking on the development of schools as learning organisations. The OECD is assessing the extent to which the key features of a learning organisation are already present in Welsh schools and what needs to happen next in terms of policy and practice (OECD, 2018b).

2.6 Accountability The reforms outlined in Education in Wales: Our National mission, Action Plan 2017–21 heralded further significant changes in both the culture and the practices of accountability in Wales. The declared aim is to have a self-improving system, committed to continuous improvement, with less central direction and more freedom for schools to interpret a new national curriculum in ways that could best meet the needs of their pupils. The 2014 OECD report had contrasted the ‘high-stakes’ nature of the post-2011 reforms and the aspiration for greater local decision-making and the need to address this tension was recognised by the Welsh Government. Donaldson (2018) highlighted a number of ways in which ‘…high-stakes accountability systems can lead to significant, negative unintended consequences. In addition to the stress that these systems inevitably place on schools and their pupils, such cultures can divert attention from meeting the needs of young people as individuals as schools seek to disguise weaknesses and present themselves in as good a light as possible. Undue attention may be given to those pupils whose marginal improvement will affect performance figures or attempts may be made to select the school population at the expense of young people with the greatest needs. At its worst it can inculcate a culture of fear, inhibiting creativity and genuine professional analysis and discussion. Pupils can come to serve the reputation of a school rather than the school serving the needs of the pupil.’ The Welsh Government continued to follow a co-constructive approach to possible changes in accountability by engaging schools in helping to shape the new accountability landscape. National quality indicators and a national approach to self evaluation are both being developed through a mix of engagement and consultation with schools. At the same time, the national education inspectorate, Estyn, commissioned Donaldson to review its current work and recommend how its contribution to the emerging reformed educational system in Wales might be improved (Donaldson, 2018). Donaldson’s report on Estyn, A Learning Inspectorate, made 34 recommendations that included a temporary pause to cyclical inspection, a move away from summative gradings in reports and an increasing emphasis on self evaluation. The report envisaged the possibility of schools with a strong overall performance and clear strength in self-improvement moving out of the normal inspection cycle to a less intensive relationship with Estyn. The report has been welcomed by HMCI and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and consideration is now being given to how, following a


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period of reflection, it might be taken forward in the context of developments in the broader accountability agenda. In addition to the review of Estyn, changes to national performance measures and a more consistent approach to self evaluation have also been set in train. In line with OECD recommendations (2014) the government has committed itself to publishing an assessment and evaluation framework that would show, ‘…clearly what each component part of the system is responsible for, ensuring that responsibilities are properly distributed and accountabilities clearly identified in order to embed collaboration and raise standards for all of our learners.’ (Welsh Government, 2017, p. 37) Taken together these developments represent a very significant shift in the role and nature of accountability and inspection in Welsh school education.

2.7 Reflections The timetable for education reform in Wales envisages a process of development and familiarisation running through to 2021 followed by phased introduction thereafter. The approach to reform represents a radical change in a hitherto strongly centralised model of change. There are a number of innovative features of the Welsh approach. • It redefines the purposes of the curriculum. It moves from one based largely on the acquisition by young people of learning defined in set, content defined programmes of study to one which pursues four broad purposes. Decisions about what learning matters most and about related pedagogical practice are then taken in relation to these purposes. As Priestley and Biesta (2013) point out, there is a shift internationally from a curriculum defined in terms of what young people should learn to one driven by what the should become as a result of their learning. • The curriculum itself places a greater emphasis on the ability to link and apply learning. Many aspects of existing subject and disciplinary knowledge and skills remain central but with a greater emphasis on interconnections and on application, problem solving and creativity. • The curriculum also gives a much more prominent role to health and wellbeing. By creating health and wellbeing as both a driving purpose of the curriculum and as one of six Areas of Learning and Experience, the new Curriculum for Wales moves well beyond the conventional, fairly limited place hitherto occupied by personal and social education. • Its emphasis on subsidiarity and co-construction seeks to avoid some of the pitfalls of the previous directive approach. Evidence about the weaknesses of top-down development and dissemination models has influenced a more participative model of change. Time given for schools to work inside the development process is intended to create a deeper understanding of its key characteristics and implications.

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• It recognises the need to identify and address the professional learning implications of the reforms in advance of their full implementation. In particular, the network of pioneer schools engaged in developing the new Curriculum for Wales and in shaping its implications for professional learning attempts to build dissemination and realisation of the curriculum into its development. The pioneer schools should not only have a deeper understanding of the nature and implications of the curriculum reform, they will also provide a broad network of learning hubs throughout the country to support adoption by the wider set of schools not directly involved in the reform. • It recognises the profound implications for leadership inherent in the reforms. The creation of a Welsh Leadership Academy represents a strong message about the need for a deeper understanding of the implication for leadership of reforms based on subsidiarity. • Changes to accountability and inspection are a further very significant innovative feature of the Welsh approach. The policy intention to have a self-improving system represents a major shift away from change driven by external accountability. If the recommendations in A Learning Inspectorate (Donaldson, 2018) are realised, the balance between assurance and improvement will have shifted significantly towards the latter. Wales is one of a number of countries rethinking the purposes of the curriculum, reflecting growing concerns that more traditional approaches will fail to equip young people for their future lives. The OECD 2030 project reflects such concerns. It refers to the small world of the curriculum and big world of learning and to students who are best prepared for the future becoming change agents. It sees the concept of competency as implying more than just the acquisition of knowledge and skills, involving the mobilisation of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to meet complex demands. It envisages future-ready students as needing both broad and specialised knowledge. The development of a curriculum framework based on the four purposes outlined in Successful Futures gives rise to a number of complexities. The issue of content specificity is likely to prove particularly problematic. The previous national curriculum was detailed and prescribed in statute and secondary legislation. The intention in the current reform is to set the strategic direction in statute but not to set the detail of the curriculum in legislation. The development process must therefore determine how best to secure broad strategic alignment without detailed guidance. Retaining political agreement about the direction of the reform as it takes shape will be critical to its sustainability. Thus far, there has been broad cross-party support in the Welsh Assembly (renamed Senedd in 2020) but likely implementation difficulties and issues in the wider environment will test the depth of that support. For example, the specifics of the curriculum framework are likely to give rise to greater debate than has been the case with the overall strategic direction. Equally, disappointing results in national examinations or in PISA surveys may well lead to demands for specific measures that may conflict with the direction of the reforms. And any concerns of parents and the wider community about the radical nature of the


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proposed changes will need to be addressed directly if necessary public confidence is to be established and sustained. The significant shift in philosophy and practice allied to the co-constructive nature of the development process present real challenges for successful realisation of the reforms in schools across Wales. The bulk of the teaching profession in Wales has only known a prescriptive national curriculum with a strong focus on the transmission of knowledge and supported by strong accountability measures designed to drive successful implementation. Future success will lie in the extent to which the profession is both confident and competent in its ability to make the new curriculum a reality. The co-constructive approach will potentially provide an important foundation for such realisation. While there appears to be a significant degree of support and even enthusiasm for the direction of the reforms, the challenges associated with putting them into practice will be considerable. Headteachers and teachers will have greater opportunity to shape the learning of their pupils and will be subject to less external pressure as they adopt new approaches to teaching, learning, assessment and external accountability. Greater freedom may give rise to workload pressures if the reforms prove too complicated or if support offered to schools proves inadequate. In addition, schools will also need to accept greater responsibility for ultimate success or failure as the impact of the reforms on pupils’ learning becomes clear. As with political and parental support, success will require the continued willingness of the teaching profession, particularly those in leadership positions, to use the increased freedom to embed a more innovative learning culture in Welsh schools. The extent to which reform is accompanied by increased confidence and capacity in the teaching profession in Wales will therefore be a key determinant of ultimate success. The phasing of the reforms provides scope for capacity building, not least through harnessing the expertise being built up in the pioneer school network. Utilising that lead time to best effect by focusing on the essence of the reforms and learning from the experience of the pioneer schools will be essential if schools and teachers are to gain the confidence and expertise necessary for successful realisation of the reform intentions. At the time of writing, the impact of COVID19 on the timetable for reform was unclear but aspects of the Welsh reforms are potentially helpful in responding to the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. In particular, their focus on purposes and on fundamental learning could provide a good basis for blended learning involving the school and the home. The nature and scope of the Welsh reform programme is undoubtedly ambitious. Evidence from the OECD gives some cause for optimism that Wales is on the right track. Ultimate success will require the various strands in the programme to be brought together coherently, particularly building the confidence and capacity of teachers and retaining public and professional confidence in the reforms. If the integrity of the curriculum is reflected in practice, then generations of young people in Wales will be better equipped to engage with the uncertainties of their future lives. At the same time, experience of education reform in Wales can make a significant contribution to our understanding about possible future directions of education reform internationally.

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References Burns, T., & Cerna, L. (2016). Enhancing effective education governance in Governing Education in a Complex World OECD Publishing Paris. Donaldson, G. (2015). Successful futures. Welsh Government. Donaldson, G. (2018). A Learning inspectorate. Welsh Government. Elmore, R. (2007). School reform from the inside out. Harvard Education Press. Handy, C. (1995). The age of paradox Harvard Business School Press. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital. Routledge. Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning. Routledge. OECD. (2014). Improving schools in wales. OECD Publishing Paris. OECD. (2017). The welsh education reform journey: A rapid policy assessment. OECD Publishing Paris. OECD. (2018a). OECD 2030 Project oe.cd/education2030. OECD. (2018b). Developing schools as learning organisations in wales, Inplementing education policies. Paris: OECD Publishing. Payne, C. (2013). So much reform so little change. Harvard Education Press. Priestley, M., & Biesta, G. (2013). Reinventing the curriculum. Bloomsbury. Priestley, M., Biesta, G., & Robinson, S. (2015). Teacher agency an ecological approach. Bloomsbury. Schleicher, A (2017) How Wales can ensure the successful implementation of its reforms. http://oec deducationtoday.blogspot.com/2017/02/how-wales-can-ensure-successful.html. Schleicher, A. (2018). ‘The Future We Want’. OECD Publishing Paris. Welsh Government. (2012). Improving schools plan. Welsh Government. Welsh Government. (2014). Qualified for Life: An education improvement plan for 3 to 19 year-olds in Wales. Welsh Government. Welsh Government. (2017). Education in Wales: Our national mission Action Plan 2017–21. Welsh Government.

Graham Donaldson is a former teacher, Graham Donaldson headed HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) from 2002–10 and, as chief professional advisor to Scottish Ministers, he took a leading role in major reforms. Following retirement, his reports ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’ (2011), ‘Successful Futures’ (2015) and A Learning Inspectorate (2018) have led to major national reform programmes. In addition to serving as an international expert for OECD and extensive consultancy work, Graham is an honorary professor at Glasgow University, past President of IPDA, advisor to the Minister for Education and Skills in Wales and a member of the First Minister of Scotland’s International Council of Education Advisors.

Chapter 3

System Reform in China: Mobilising and Sharing Resources Across Schools Haiyan Qian and Allan Walker

3.1 Introduction Many education reforms are transient, regardless of their actual or potential impact (Harris, 2010). Levin (2008) attests that too often the changes intended to improve education outcomes leave ‘many of the basic features of schooling unaltered’ (p. 64). Many reform programmes, improvement initiatives and other interventions focus solely on school-level change and improvement. Thus, approaches to change may be limited in terms of the sheer scale of the task and/or of the pace of change itself (Harris, 2010; Harris & Chrispeels, 2008). Effective school improvement may then require a mindset shift from individual schools to system-level thinking (Hopkins, Stringfield, Harris, Stoll, & Mackay, 2014). A system in this context includes the ‘entirety of the educational support network for schools’ (Hopkins et al., 2014, p. 270). Whole system reform involves all schools in the system getting better, often focusing primarily on closing the gap between high- and low-performing schools (Fullan, 2000). Education systems worldwide differ in history, context, policy focus and implementation, in addition to results (Liang et al., 2016). Shanghai has demonstrated successful performance in international benchmarking studies such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) over the past decade (OECD, 2010a). One reason for Shanghai’s success is its system-wide reform efforts (Cheng, 2010; Friedman, 2013; Liang et al., 2016). For example, after a visit to Shanghai schools, Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman was impressed by Shanghai’s ‘relentless focus on all the basics that we know make for highperforming schools but that are difficult to pull off consistently across an entire school system’ (Friedman, 2013). The World Bank report How Shanghai does it

H. Qian · A. Walker (B) The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_3



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reveals that Shanghai has a high degree of coherence between policy and implementation, which can be partly attributed to the top-down, centralised government administration (Liang et al., 2016). This chapter provides a review of the improvement challenges facing Shanghai and the main approaches to systemic reform the city has adopted. The focus of this chapter is on reform efforts to overcome disparity and inequality and to strengthen poorer-performing Shanghai schools. The PISA results show that Shanghai students tend to perform well regardless of their background or the school they attend (OECD, 2010b). The OECD put together a series of education highlights of high-performing societies in a short video programme entitled ‘Strong Performers and Successful Reformers’ in 2012. Much of the video was devoted to the government leadership and a policy focus on improving low-performing schools (Liang et al., 2016). In addition, quality education (suzhi jiaoyu), or improving the quality of education, was proclaimed in the 1990s as one of the main drivers of China’s reform policy (Feng, 2006). Quality was thus a primary goal of education while equity was neglected. This has been readdressed in recent years. For example, the Outline of China’s National Plan for Medium and Long-Term Education Reform and Development issued in 2010 (Ministry of Education, 2010) set about improving quality and enhancing equity as the dual goals of educational development from 2010 to 2020. Thus, various reform approaches aimed at enhancing equity have been implemented in China over the past decade. As an educational reform ‘experimental city’, Shanghai has piloted many reforms. For example, approaches such as commissioned administration (weituo guanli) and forming school consortiums were first initiated in Shanghai (Cheng, 2010; Liang et al., 2016) and have now been widely adopted in other Chinese cities. A caveat to this is that Shanghai is financially much better off than most cities in China and has made more strides to overcome disparity than other provinces. Bearing this caveat in mind, Shanghai presents itself as a worthwhile case for examining the main system-level changes China has adopted, and will adopt. The chapter has four sections. Following the introduction, the next section summarises the improvement challenges Shanghai faces in removing disparities between schools. The third section illustrates some of the main strategies Shanghai has adopted to mobilise financial, human and intellectual resources to reduce disparities between schools and strengthen weaker schools. The fourth section identifies the lessons that can be learned from Shanghai.

3.2 Improvement Challenges China and Shanghai face formidable challenges to overcome disparity and inequity due to two long-standing structural settings: the household registration (hukou) system and the ‘key’ (zhongdian) school policy.

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3.2.1 The Hukou System The hukou system was implemented as an attempt to control population movement within China. It is a form of population registration that has been formally required and legalised since the 1950s (Chan & Zhang, 1999). The hukou system influences almost all aspects of Chinese people’s lives. Yu (2002, p. 12) described the impact of hukou as follows: After birth you should get a hukou right away. You need hukou to enter kindergarten; and you need local hukou to find a job. When you date, you should know the other person’s hukou. All kinds of permits can only be processed with hukou; and all kinds of benefits depend on your hukou. When you move to another place, you need to change the hukou. When you die, you remove your hukou.

This system binds people to their place of registration, or hukou location (hukou suozaidi), which can be literally translated as ‘where the hukou resides’ (Fan, 2008). The Hukou location enables individuals to gain access to benefits in a specific locality that are normally unavailable to individuals whose hukou location is elsewhere (Fan, 2008). Hukou reinforces institutional and social barriers between rural and urban China, as every Chinese citizen was classified as either ‘agricultural’ (nongcun) or ‘non-agricultural’ (feinong) through this system of Household Registration (Fan, 2008; Solinger, 1999). The effect of hukou is to create a ‘caste-like system of social stratification’ between urbanites and rural peasants (Potter & Potter, 1990). In the not-so-distant past, social welfare benefits, including access to subsidised housing, education, medical care and retirement benefits were available only to those with urban hukou (Solinger, 1999). Those who were designated ‘rural’ were entitled to none of these benefits (Fan, 2008). Thus, the hukou system privileged urban citizens over their rural counterparts and excluded some students outside the state education system. Shanghai is thus presented with two associated challenges. First, the city has urban and rural districts and thus needs to close the gap in the quality of education accessed by its own urban and rural hukou holders. Second, over the past 30 years large-scale rural-to-urban migration has occurred in China, and Shanghai has been one of the principal recipients of migrant workers (Cheng, 2010; Goodburn, 2009). The children of migrant workers are entitled to receive free compulsory education (five-year primary school and four-year junior secondary school education in Shanghai). Financial, manpower and moral commitments of the local government are thus required to provide equitable education opportunities to students without Shanghai hukou.

3.2.2 The Key School Policy The elitist bent of Chinese government education policy over much of the last 50 years has tended to favour ‘key’ schools. The practice of differentiating schools into ‘key’


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and ‘non-key’ (or ordinary) status dates to the 1950s, when the young People’s Republic was in desperate need of professional talent to rebuild the nation. ‘Key schools’ were established to identify and prepare the most promising students for higher levels of education (China Daily, 2006). In May 1977, only eight months after the fall of the Cultural Revolution leaders, Deng Xiaoping proclaimed that China would reintroduce the key-school system (Thogersen, 1990). It was restored throughout the country at all levels from kindergarten to university level in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Pepper, 1996). Unified entrance examinations were also restored at various levels and students were channelled into the hierarchy of schools on the basis of the exams (Pepper, 1996). The key schools admitted better students who then did better in terms of selection into higher-level key schools or universities (Cheng, 2010). Key schools remained the crème de la crème of China’s education system, and produced the highest academic results with their concentrated resources. For example, in 1981, nationally there were 5271 key primary schools, accounting for 0.6% the total number (Ke, Chen & Ren, 2013). Although the key school system provided the nation’s needs for talent, this came at the expense of equity (China Daily, 2006). A less equitable educational system was manifested in at least three ways from the key school context. First, as Pepper (1996) argued, although the statistics on family background were deemed as sensitive and not available to researchers, the conventional wisdom among teachers and school administrators was that children of cadres and intellectuals were the most likely beneficiaries of key schools. Second, the key school mechanism subjected children to differentiated treatment at a very early age. It mercilessly threw the majority of the youngsters into disadvantage based on questionable judgments. Third, as a result of the Matthew Effect, (which postulates that the rich get richer and the poor become poorer) key schools not only boosted performance in exams, but also served as a showcase of government achievements in promoting education. Thus, schools that had more money and better teaching staff and academic reputations tended to be designated ‘key’ and thus became stronger and received even more official assistance (Walker & Qian, 2018a). The ‘non-key’ schools, which were badly in need of government assistance, received less attention and less support, and as a result became less competitive and less attractive. Instead of leading the way to a more uniform increase in education quality, the disparities inherent in the key school system led to the polarisation of the key schools and of the other ordinary schools (Hua, 2004). Thus, vast disparities exist in terms of school infrastructure, teacher quality and qualification and student outcomes between schools of different statuses and schools located in different districts. The quality of education accessed by different students varied and some disadvantaged students, such as migrant children, had limited access to education opportunities. These challenges necessitated the mobilisation of collective energy to engage in joint reforms (Fullan, 2000). The next section reviews some of the major reform initiatives adopted over the past decade in Shanghai.

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3.3 Approaches to Reform To overcome disparity and inequality, Shanghai has focused attention on the entire system to improve weak schools and expand education services to disadvantaged students. Three major reform approaches are reviewed in this section: financial deployment and reallocation, structural innovation and mobilisation of quality teacher resources.

3.3.1 Expanding Financial Investment in Weak Schools and Disadvantaged Students A key feature of Shanghai’s public financing for education is the focus on improving poorly performing schools and proactively initiating new policies to expand the education services provided to migrant children and disadvantaged students. Policies have been adopted to balance the different fiscal capabilities of urban and rural districts. The Shanghai Municipal Education Commission shoulders the main responsibility for educational affairs in Shanghai, in particular the financing and provision of affiliated institutions of higher education. The district governments are responsible for the financing and provision of preschool education, nine-year basic education and senior secondary education (Liang et al., 2016). Suburban and rural districts typically have more socio-economically disadvantaged students and students without Shanghai hukou. These districts also tend to have lower income levels and far lower capital spending on average than downtown schools (Shanghai Education Commission, 2004). Thus, at the district level, Shanghai implemented an ‘education levy’ to transfer resources more equitably. Under the policy, all districts collect an education tax, part of which is transferred to the municipal level. The municipal government then redistributes the proceeds of the tax to districts with poorer schools in the form of additional education funding (Liang et al., 2016). Districts in the rural areas of Shanghai are major beneficiaries of this policy. Between 2004 and 2008, over USD 500 million was transferred to rural schools to help them build new facilities and laboratories, purchase books and audio-visual materials and increase teacher salaries (Cheng, 2010). Free lunches were also provided to students whose family incomes were below the poverty line, or whose parent(s) has a rural residence (Liang et al., 2016). Furthermore, the government invested huge amounts of money to provide and expand educational opportunities for migrant children, that is, children of migrant workers without Shanghai hukou. In 2008, the Shanghai government launched a new initiative entitled the Three-Year Action Plan (2008–2010) for Compulsory Education of Migrant Children (Shanghai Education Commission, 2008a). During the threeyear period, a large sum was invested to build 144 new primary and junior secondary schools. These new schools provided 150,000 school places (Zhang, 2013). An additional policy released in 2008 (Shanghai Education Commission, 2008b) reduced the


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documentary and financial requirements for migrant children to attend public schools. The new policy in 2008 stated that migrant children could go to public schools, as long as they could provide two certificates: their parent(s)’ rural ID certificates and temporary residence/employment permits (Qian & Walker, 2015). They did not need to pay any extra fee. In districts where public schools had limited places, the district governments were encouraged to sign contracts with selected private migrant-run schools and commission them to enrol migrant children (Shanghai Education Commission, 2004, 2008a). The government then gave per-head financial support to the commissioned schools so that they could provide the same free education for migrant children as for those in public schools. By the end of the implementation of the three-year Action Plan in 2010, 162 migrant schools were certified to receive public funds and provide free education (Lu, 2013). The municipal government allocated 1,000 yuan (about USD 160) from public expenditure for each migrant student the certified schools enrolled in 2008 (Shanghai Education Commission, 2008a). The expenditure increased annually, and by 2014 the per-head funding increased to 5,000 yuan (about USD 700) (Qian & Walker, 2017). The statistical data show that among the 1.2 million basic education students in Shanghai in 2013, almost 47% or 0.57 million were migrant children. Shanghai achieved a remarkable outcome by enrolling 77% of these migrant children in neighbourhood public schools and the remaining 23% in commissioned private schools with additional municipal government funding (Liang et al., 2016).

3.3.2 Implementing Structural Innovations to Strengthen Weak Schools In 1994, Shanghai was the first jurisdiction in China to introduce neighbourhood attendance at primary and junior secondary levels, in effect eliminating the notion of key schools at these levels (Cheng, 2010). To strengthen the previously non-key schools, a series of structural innovations have been trialled and implemented in Shanghai over the past decade. The most influential of these include the ‘commissioned administration’ (weituo guanli) model, the ‘New Quality School’ project, and various approaches of forming school consortiums. The ‘commissioned administration’ is a type of school custody programme in which the government commissions ‘good’ public schools to take over the administration of ‘weak’ ones (Cheng, 2010). The initiative was based on a successful experiment of Donggou Senior Secondary School in Pudong District. After four years of being entrusted to the Shanghai Education Management Consulting Centre, Donggou School improved from a ‘low-tier school’ to a well-recognised top-level school (Liang et al., 2016). The municipality-wide initiative was launched in 2007 and the municipal government devoted a special budget to provide incentives to strong schools or specialised education organisations to support weak schools, through a memorandum of understanding or a contract (Tan, 2013). In the same year, 10 good

3 System Reform in China: Mobilising and Sharing Resources Across Schools


schools in downtown Shanghai and other educational intermediary agencies took charge of 20 schools in rural districts (Cheng, 2010). In this model, the good schools work together with commissioned weak schools to develop a three-year or five-year school development plan that lays the groundwork for the long-term development of these schools (Liang et al., 2016). The good school usually appoints one of its experienced leaders (e.g., the deputy principal) to be the principal of the weak school and sends a team of experienced teachers to lead the teaching (Cheng, 2010; Tan, 2013). The ‘New Quality School’ project was trialled in 2011, and the goal was to make each neighbourhood ordinary school a quality institution (Yin, 2013). Those recognised as New Quality Schools were grassroots schools that often enrolled substantial numbers of migrant students (Yin, 2012). Although not academically strong, these schools designed their own improvement plans, recognised student needs and strove to enhance students’ self-esteem. This can be seen in the slogans used by the schools, such as ‘You are not No. 1, but you are the only one,’ ‘Different lives, same success’ and ‘Do not give up on anyone, and make sure each student has a happy learning experience’ (Yin, 2012). When a school acquired the title of ‘New Quality School’, they gained support and guidance from the Research Centre of New Quality Schools, which helped to design further development plans for each individual school (Shanghai Education Commission, 2015). The successful reform experiences of these New Quality Schools were documented in an attempt to scale up and extend to schools of similar status. According to the Three-Year Action Plan of Shanghai New Quality School Development (2015-2017) (Shanghai Education Commission, 2015), 250 schools with this title were established by 2017, accounting for 25% of schools providing compulsory education. Another prominent trend was to establish a consortium of schools, where strong and weak schools were grouped into a cluster, with one strong school at the core (Cheng, 2010). The school consortiums take different forms. One is the ‘one school with multiple campuses’ (yixiao duoqu) model. This model is more common in suburban districts with an expanding population and fewer quality schools. Many young couples move to these districts due to lower real estate prices and bring with them a high demand for quality school education for their children. Thus, these districts initiated the radical step of having one quality school merge with several nearby weaker schools (Zhongguo Jiaoyu Bao, 11 July 2015). Under the same school name, the original weaker schools become different campuses of the good school. For example, one school where we conducted empirical research merged with three others to become a school with about 6000 students and 450 teachers (Walker & Qian, 2018a). When asked whether increasing the number of teachers would dilute the quality of teaching resources, the school principal replied that teaching resources were like seeds: they needed to spread to flourish. Another form of consortium is to group one quality school with several weak schools while each school remains a separate entity. Such a consortium is usually named after the quality school as the core of the group. For example, Qibao Secondary School is a renowned exemplary school and was combined with ten other schools into a group known as the ‘Qibao Education Group’ (Cheng, 2010). Within the group, the


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member schools can share quality resources that were previously owned exclusively by the core school. The latest figures show that 993 schools had joined consortiums of different forms by August 2017, accounting for 55% of all primary and secondary schools (Xu, 2017).

3.3.3 Promoting Cross-School Teacher Learning and Sharing Quality Teacher Resources In addition to grouping schools together, other strategies were adopted to mobilise and share the professional and intellectual capital of quality teachers. These included teacher rotation policies and cross-school teacher development strategies. Built-in incentives were used to temporarily transfer or rotate teachers to serve underprivileged populations and therefore allow struggling schools to catch up (Liang et al., 2016): • Teachers who elected to work at rural schools in Shanghai would be prioritised in terms of admission to graduate schools and accreditation of higher teacher ranks, one-time monetary stipends and compensation. • Every year about 20 outstanding teachers from central districts were placed in twinning schools in rural or suburban districts. • A system of principal rotation was set up; in 2013, the city deployed nine skilled principals from central districts to schools in rural districts to serve as mentors and offer management advice for a two-year period. • ‘Senior-class’ teachers that choose to teach in rural districts would receive a retirement extension of one to five years. Another strategy was to have expert teachers play a more active role as crossschool instructional leaders. In Shanghai, teachers are classified into a tiered expertise ‘ladder’ that honours expert teachers at school, district and municipal levels (Qian & Walker, 2013). The evaluation criteria are multifaceted, with primary weight given to results from conducting public lessons and mentoring peer teachers. Teachers with more than 10 years’ experience may apply and be evaluated for higher level district-level recognition. Typically, about five per cent of the teachers who meet the stricter selection criteria are granted titles such as district-level backbone teachers (gugan jiaoshi, or competent teachers). Among this group, about half are further recognised as Subject Leaders (xueke daitouren) at the district level. A handful of the Subject Leaders (approximately the top one per cent) can become Special-class Teachers (teji jiaoshi) at district and municipal levels (Xiu & Wang, 2015). Once teachers are formally recognised as Subject Leaders or Special-class Teachers, they need to assume leadership responsibility for practice-embedded and cross-school peer learning. They are expected to extend their teaching and instructional expertise to teachers at other schools. These formally recognised expert teachers are thus no longer ‘assets’ of only their own schools; their expertise and wisdom must be

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shared across a wider group of teachers. Among these expert teachers, some are promoted to district and municipal-level Teaching-Research Offices (jiaoyan shi). As teaching-research officers, their job is to visit schools, observe teaching, provide feedback and organise cross-school peer learning and development activities. The offices organise city-level and district-level systematic teaching-research activities and collect the best teaching practices from different schools for dissemination and promotion (Liang et al., 2016).

3.4 Discussion This section reviews the outcomes of reform approaches and the remaining challenges, and provides a discussion of what can be learned from the system-level changes in Shanghai.

3.4.1 Reform Outcomes and Remaining Challenges Shanghai is a trendsetter in its execution of specific policies to support disadvantaged students, communities, schools and districts (Liang et al., 2016). It is one of the first cities to achieve universal primary and junior secondary education, and is also among the first to achieve almost universal senior secondary education (Cheng, 2010). Regarding the dual aims of quality and equity as identified in the National Plan for Medium and Long-Term Education Reform and Development (Ministry of Education, 2010), Shanghai has fulfilled its first task of ensuring each child can attend a school (youxueshang), and is moving towards the second goal of providing children with a quality education (shanghaoxue). With specific support programmes and policies for children from low-income and migrant families, Shanghai has made relatively more progress in attaining equal and equitable access to schooling than any other region of the country. By eliminating the selective and elite key school system at the basic education level and promoting the ‘commissioned administration’ of schools, Shanghai has contributed to the national education policies directed towards the capacity building of weak schools. By launching projects such as the ‘New Quality School’ scheme, Shanghai is endeavouring to make each neighbourhood school a quality institution (Liang et al., 2016). Despite government efforts to overcome disparity and inequality, enduring challenges remain. First, the social integration of migrant children presents an ongoing challenge. In the urban districts, the enrolment of migrant children has led to an exodus of local students from many public schools. If their parents have the financial resources or social capital to place them elsewhere, they do so (Qian & Walker, 2015). Schools that enrol substantial numbers of migrant children are nicknamed ‘street market


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schools’, due to the perception that migrant children spend their preschool years in street markets with their parents instead of attending formal kindergartens. Thus, if local children are assigned to a ‘street market school’ under the neighbourhood enrolment policy, their parents explore every opportunity to find other schools for them (Lu, 2013). Second, a clear hierarchy of schools still exists, at least in the minds of parents. Taking junior secondary schools as an example, the top schools are either expensive, famous and private schools or elite public schools (mainly previous key schools), but there are very few of the latter. On the bottom rung are those previously known as non-key schools. These schools enrol large numbers of migrant children and local students from low SES families. Students from different socioeconomic backgrounds hold very different places of privilege in this hierarchical system. Schools of different status also attract very different populations. Third, expert teachers and other resources are unevenly distributed between rural and urban districts, and in schools of different status (Qian & Walker, 2017). Teachers of the highest ranks, that is, special-class teachers, are rarely from the previous nonkey schools (Ke, Chen & Ren, 2013). For the lowest status schools, particularly commissioned private schools that enrol migrant children, it is still exceedingly difficult to attract or retain any quality teachers despite a substantial increase in the pay of teachers in these schools (Qian & Walker, 2017). While recognising the ongoing challenges, lessons can be drawn from the Shanghai model of system-level reforms.

3.4.2 Lessons that Can Be Drawn from Shanghai Lesson 1 Prioritise lower-performing rather than higher-performing schools. The review indicates that huge systemic effort has been given to improving weaker schools in Shanghai. Schools in poorer areas and with lower status tend to gain financial and policy favours. This approach is in stark contrast to practices in other countries that reward top-performing schools and hope to ‘weed out’ low-performing schools (Liang et al., 2016). Lesson 2 Rely on and utilise the resources of better-performing schools to support lower-performing schools. For example, high-performing schools are expected to partner with struggling schools to increase the quality of their leadership and teachers. Under the ‘commissioned administration’ scheme, a high-performing school can be awarded a contract, with funding attached, to improve a lower-performing school. The ex-Deputy Director of Shanghai Education Commission, Professor Zhang Minxuan, cited a Chinese idiom to explain the underlying belief during an interview: ‘if the water in the river is getting higher, then the boat will be even higher’ (Tucker, 2014). This suggests that if the lower-performing schools are getting better, then the good schools will be even better.

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Lesson 3 Create a professional development system that continually increases school quality. Teachers have clear career ladders in Shanghai, and one of the expectations for teachers who wish to reach the top level is that they spend time teaching in lower-income areas. Teachers are not assigned or required to teach in such schools, but they are strongly encouraged and have career incentives to do so (Tucker, 2014). Multiple examples show that when a master teacher can spend a relatively long period of time in a rural or suburban school it can make a real difference to teacher morale and the school’s capacity. Lesson 4 Cultivate cross-school instructional leaders and grant them honours and responsibilities. The Shanghai system recognises master teachers and gives them honourable titles such as special-class teachers, subject leaders and backbone teachers at different levels. However, the honouring of a master teacher is also accompanied by the responsibility for developing teachers in their own schools and in others. Mechanisms such as ‘Teaching-Research Offices’ at district and municipality levels are also implemented to organise cross-school teacher development and to scale, share and disseminate good practices. Lesson 5 Build a truly professional model of teaching and teachers. Tucker’s (2014) interviews with leading scholars familiar with education in Shanghai suggest that the Shanghai system reflects a commitment to providing teachers with a true professional status and a desire to put teachers at the centre of the improvement process. The system allows teachers, not administrators, to lead the process of improving the curriculum and teaching methods and to work together as a team. The whole system is built on a truly professional model of teaching and teachers. System-level changes would not be possible without strong government. The World Bank report (Liang et al., 2016) indicated that what differentiates Shanghai from many other education systems is a high degree of coherence between policy and implementation. No large divergence between policy statements and reality, as is witnessed in other systems, is readily observable. The exceptional connection between policy and implementation can be partly attributed to the cultural and historical Chinese characteristics of top-down and centralised control by government authorities. We have reported elsewhere that it seems to be a mystery how a centralised education system such as Shanghai can produce relatively equitable student outcomes (Walker & Qian, 2018b). As implied in the traditional Chinese proverb Fortune and misfortune are two buckets in a well (fuxihuosuofu, huoxifusuoyi), every event, every condition and every ‘bit’ is part of a larger whole. For a centralised and strong government, one bucket overflows with policy-driven standards, focused resources and skyhigh expectations—these appear to produce outstanding academic achievement on standardised tests. Another bucket from the centralisation well thus shows increasingly equitable outcomes. Centralisation is enacted within the traditional moral basis of governance—a paternalistic concern for everyone (Farh & Cheng, 2000; Walker & Qian, 2018a). Traditionally, rulers were assumed to be knowledgeable about and sympathetic towards the interests of all segments of society, not just the elite (Farh et al., 2008; Pye, 1991). Thus, leaders feel a moral and pragmatic obligation to


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respond to societal and economic problems, and centralised power makes it possible for them to invest quickly and substantially to address these problems. Different buckets dipped into the same well can pull up quite different loads. A centralised and strong government alone cannot overcome disparity and inequality in a relatively short time, as Shanghai has done. Conditions such as Chinese values, institutional structures and leadership styles interconnect and produce outcomes that are more than the sum of the parts (Tucker, 2014). This complexity necessitates more in-depth studies to holistically understand the system in Shanghai and throughout China.

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Xiu, C. & Wang, J. J. (2015). Learning from the Masters: A closer look at the Shanghai teacherexpertise infusion system. Paper presented at the UCEA Convention 2015, 20–23 November, San Diego, USA. Walker, A., & Qian, H. Y. (2018a). Deciphering chinese school leadership: Conceptualizations, context and complexities. London: Routledge. Walker, A., & Qian, H. Y. (2018b). Exploring the mysteries of school success in Shanghai. ECNU Review of Education, 1(1), 119–134. Xu, Y. (2017, September 22). Tuidong youzhi junheng, gaige pingjia tixi: Shanghai jichu jiaoyu tansuo zonggai xinlu [Promoting balanced equity and reforming evaluation system: Exploring a new way of comprehensive reform in basic education in Shanghai]. 21st Century Business Herald. Yin, H. Q. (2012). Rang meiyisuo jiamenkou de xuexiao dou youzhi [Let each ordinary neighbourhood school a quality school]. Shanghai Jiaoyu [Shanghai Education], 04A, 26–27. (in Chinese). Yin, H. Q. (2013). Zai jiaoyu neihan fazhan de “shenshuiqu” gongjiankenan [Solving problems when educational reform comes to a difficult stage]. Shanghai Jiaoyu [Shanghai Education], 12B, 14–16. (in Chinese). Yu, D. P. (2002). Chengxiang shehui: Cong geli zouxiang kaifang (City and Countryside Societies: From Segregation to Opening—Research on China’s Hoursehold Registration System and Laws). Jinan, China: Shandong renmin chubanshe (Shandong People’s Press), 2002. (in Chinese). Zhang, M. X. (2013). Shanghai responds to school ranking cheating allegations (19 December Asia Society). Retrieved from http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/shanghai-responds-school-ranking-che ating-allegations.

Haiyan Qian is an Associate Professor at the Department of Education Policy and Leadership and Director of The Joseph Lau Luen Hung Charitable Trust Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change. Her main area of interest has been around school leadership in China and the influence of the social and cultural context on schooling across Chinese societies. Allan Walker is Joseph Lau Chair Professor of International Educational Leadership and Codirector of the Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change at The Education University of Hong Kong. Allan’s research interests include the impact of culture on educational leadership and school organisation, school leadership in South East Asia, particularly China, leadership development, leading international schools and values and educational leadership.

Chapter 4

Change in the Early Childhood Care and Education Sector in Singapore Pak Tee Ng

4.1 Introduction Quality early childhood care and education is important, because humans undergo the most rapid development during early childhood relative to any other stages in their lives (UNICEF, n.d.). Brain-based research highlights the crucial role quality education at an early age can play in building the brain architecture and functions that will set up an individual for life (McCain, Mustard, & Shanker, 2007). Longitudinal studies, such as Perry Preschool Project (Schweinhart et al., 2005), Abecedarian Early Childhood Intervention Project (Campbell & Burchinal, 2008), and Head Start (Currie, 2001), have demonstrated the long-term impact that such early education has on the individual, social and economic development of a person (National Education Association, 2008). Given the importance of quality early childhood care and education, there have been calls for public investment in this sector, particularly for socio-economically disadvantaged children (e.g. Barnett & Masse, 2007; Rolnick & Grunewald, 2003). Due to Singapore’s stellar performance in PISA, when international organizations report on educational change in Singapore, they tend to focus on what Singapore does in its primary and secondary school sector. What Singapore does for children at an earlier age is often not in the international limelight. This chapter therefore focuses on the recent education reform initiatives in Singapore’s early childhood care and education sector. In particular, it examines an interesting change in the State’s role in this sector, and the issues and challenges associated with this change in the years ahead. Early childhood care and education (henceforth abbreviated ECCE) here refers to any form of organized care and education before a child is admitted in a primary school. P. T. Ng (B) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_4



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4.2 Recent Developments Although ECCE was formally institutionalized through the Education Act of 1958 and the Child Care Centre Act of 1988, it was for many years (until recently) primarily a commercial industry ran on neoliberal principles, which emphasize free market, business competitiveness, consumer choices and minimal government intervention (Ng, 2011; Lim, 2017). ECCE was predominantly provided by private sector organizations, including religious bodies, community foundations, trade unions, and business enterprises. Given the intense effort Singapore has put into developing its primary and secondary education since its independence in 1965, ECCE paled in comparison in terms of state priority (Lim-Ratnam, 2013). The government has adopted a light touch approach, and ECCE never had the same level of prominence as the primary and secondary school sector in the national discourse. About a decade ago, the education landscape began to change. Between 20082011, the government boosted the ECCE sector through various inter-ministerial initiatives. For example, under an Anchor Operator (AOP) scheme, first introduced in 2009, selected pre-school operators are given funding to keep fees low, invest in quality improvement, and support continuing professional development. This improves access to good quality and affordable ECCE, especially for children from lower income or disadvantaged backgrounds. A Quality Assurance Consultancy scheme called Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK) was launched in November 2010 to encourage pre-schools to strive for excellence in the holistic development of young children (Ministry of Education, 2010). The reform efforts intensified after 2012 (Ministry of Education, 2013a). In particular, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) was established in 2013 as a central governing agency to implement quality assurance measures across all private pre-schools and childcare centres. In the same year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that it was going to move into the ECCE sector by running its own MOE Kindergartens (MKs) and that it would set up 15 pilot kindergartens in the next 3 years. During the following year, MOE piloted its first 5 MKs (Ministry of Education, 2013a). Heng Swee Kiat, who was then the Education Minister, said: MOE believes that we can leverage on our resources to provide quality kindergartens, and act as a catalyst for the entire sector. Given the growing demand for quality kindergarten education, MOE is prepared to go beyond our 15 pilot centres. But how far and how fast MOE proceeds will depend on our experience and assessment of it, and the feedback from parents. (Heng, 2013)

The State has officially become a player in a field which was, until that year, dominated by pre-schools and child care centre operators which were either privatelyowned, church-based, or community-based. In 2017, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that MOE would run 50 kindergartens by 2023, and that the government would double its annual spending on the pre-school sector to $1.7 billion in 2022. This, he felt, was a heavy but worthwhile and necessary investment (Lee, 2017).

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What sets an MK apart from other kindergartens is the curriculum it offers. Developed by MOE’s own curriculum specialists, the curriculum is designed with a distinctive local flavor to help children build cultural identity and values. The teaching and learning resources feature local food, festivals, stories, songs and dances so that children can relate their learning to things and places around them. Through the use of local songs, dances and movement, children also strengthen their social and emotional, aesthetic, physical, and language and literacy development (Ministry of Education, 2013b). MKs also offer two specialized flagship programmes that are unique to MOE. The Starlight Literacy programme is designed for early childhood bilingualism with literacy materials set in the local context. The HI-Light Programme takes a holistic approach to child development in six learning areas, namely Aesthetics and Creative Expression; Discovery of the World; Language and Literacy; Motor Skills Development; Numeracy; and Social and Emotional Development (Ministry of Education, 2013b). In 2013, the MOE also refreshed the kindergarten curriculum framework to emphasize clearer learning outcomes and holistic development (Ministry of Education, 2013c). Another major initiative is the improvement efforts in the quality of early childhood educators and their professional development. In 2017, the government announced the setting up of the National Institute for Early Childhood Development (NIEC) to transform the rather fragmented professional development landscape in the ECCE sector (Ministry of Education, 2017a). Speaking on this issue, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: Today, there is no centralised institute for early childhood development. Instead we have many different preschool training programmes… We will now bring all these different programmes together, under a new centralised institute and we will call it the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC)… It will provide the full range of diploma and certificate programmes for pre-school professionals. It will also have the scale to develop curricula, with different specialisations, like music, art, mother tongue or special education. Within a larger fraternity, the faculty will have more opportunities for professional development and progression. (Lee, 2017)

According to the Prime Minister, the concept of the NIEC is similar to that of the existing and more illustrious National Institute of Education (NIE) that trains primary and secondary school teachers, except that NIEC is for ECCE teachers and carers. The NIEC endeavors to consolidate the various ECCE programmes for pre-service and in-service teachers currently offered in polytechnics, Institute of Technical Education , and SEED Institute (Lee, 2017). It is projected to cater to 60 percent of the pre-service teacher trainees in preparation for the increase in demand for quality ECCE services in the coming years (Sin, 2017). Its first cohort will begin training in 2019 (Chia, 2017). Leadership development is also given a boost. Over S$5 million is allocated to the development of ECCE leaders (Early Childhood Development Agency, 2018). Under an ECDA initiative, ECDA Fellows champion quality improvements and professional growth of ECCE leaders. In 2018, an inaugural batch of 181 participants attended the Professional Development Programme (PDP) for Leaders (Early Childhood Development Agency, 2018). With such new


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initiatives, the Singapore government shows its commitment to improving the sector in terms of quality assurance, promoting equity, and improving access to a variety of platforms and services that support early childhood development in the country.

4.3 A New Early Childhood Education Landscape Notwithstanding the efforts in the past, the current ECCE efforts contain certain significant departures from previous ones. The new ECCE landscape is characterized by the following features. First, considerations of social equity underpin the changes. Second, improvements are initiated by the government and involve the state in direct intervention measures. A neo-liberal industry has been turned on its head. Firstly, the current wave of changes in the ECCE is driven by an aim to promote social equity. Prime Minister Lee elucidated: I have described what we are doing to develop our children in practical ways but actually, we are emphasising pre-schools to achieve a broader social purpose because access to affordable, quality preschools will help level the playing field for young children. Today, every child goes to a good school. We want every child to go to a good pre-school so that all children, regardless of family background, have the best possible start in life. We must do this because every child counts and if we get this right, we will foster social mobility and sustain a fair and just society. So it is a practical thing that we are doing but it is a strategic goal which we are aiming for. (Lee, 2017)

Social mobility is imperative to economic growth (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2010). Globalization has the tendency to erode equity in a society. The current ECCE efforts are well aligned with the government’s notion of helping Singaporean families, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, gain a good start for their children. Ensuring affordable access to quality ECCE services is part of the national imperative to promote social mobility and economic growth. This motivation is clearly demonstrated when ECDA launched the Kindergarten Fees Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) in 2015. The primary objective of the KiFAS is to make quality ECCE affordable for low to middle-income families. Those in this income group will receive substantial financial assistance when their children attend an MK or one run by Anchor Operators. Some families could pay as low as S$1 per month (Early Childhood Development Agency, 2014). Significant government funding has been channeled into the ECCE sector in the past five years. Hawazi Daipi, who was then Senior Parliamentary Secretary, explained: First, by providing the necessary support, children from low income families can have a good start in life through education. We want to enable these children to make the most of their time while receiving education to better prepare them for a productive and fulfilling life… We need to ensure that every child, regardless of family situation, is able to fully develop through education and live a meaningful, purposeful life. (Hawazi, 2014)

In the past, the government played a regulatory role in a light-touch approach to the management of the ECCE sector. The development of the sector has been

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driven by the market based on consumer needs and demands, and the end result is a diverse landscape with different private operators, with varying prices and quality. This time, the approach is significantly different. The government has now adopted a leadership stance in planning and implementing improvements in the sector on a national scale. It is also trying to bring private operators to align with government strategies through support schemes. For example, in addition to the AOP, under a relatively new Partner Operator (POP) Scheme, first introduced in 2015, small- and medium-sized private ECCE providers may receive government support provided they are willing to be subjected to fee caps and other quality criteria required by the government. By bringing some of the private sector operators into partnership with the government, the government expects to catalyze quality improvements in the sector, while offering affordable ECCE options to parents (Parliament Replies, 2017). It is projected that by 2023, government-run or government-supported pre-schools will account for two-thirds of the market share (Sin & Goy, 2017). What is also significant this time is that some of the key responsibilities of improving ECCE have been shifted to the MOE. Previously, the bulk of MOE’s responsibilities has been about schooling from the age of seven and beyond. Now, the MOE has widened its role to pre-school education, not just regulating it from afar, but as a direct manager and player. Before 2013, kindergartens were registered with MOE and regulated under the 1958 Education Act. Child care centers were licensed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) (formerly known as the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS)), and regulated under the 1988 Child Care Centers Act. There was no direct management of these ECCE providers, which of course resulted in significant variations in the pricing and quality of ECCE provisions. After so many years of not intervening in the ECCE system directly, the MOE has stepped into the fray, not just as a regulator, but to establish and run government kindergartens. This of course appears to be a reversal of the government’s position. But, it does show the government’s current resolve in improving ECCE by making a fundamental change in the way ECCE is provided and undertaking the drive for curriculum change, quality improvements and affordable access.

4.4 Issues and Challenges 4.4.1 Private Sector The initiatives, especially the launch of MKs, generated mixed reactions from the citizenry. On one hand, there were those who welcomed MOE into the playing field and perceived the recent developments as a long-overdue move to expand and establish ECCE as an integral part of the public education system. The MOE has long established its credentials in providing high quality education in public schools. By association, MKs would conform to the same high standards. With the ECCE


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system now shifted much more into the MOE fold and the NIEC expected to lift the professional standing of ECCE educators, the future of ECCE appeared much brighter. On the other hand, the fact that the MOE has become a ‘major player’ in the industry put pressure on the private operators. Some raised concerns that MKs were fierce competitors in an already highly competitive sector. The MOE was a trusted and favored ‘brand’, having run the primary and secondary school sector for decades successfully. How could they, the ‘smaller fishes’, compete with the MOE? Moreover, MOE Kindergartens are strategically co-located with public primary schools. The MOE’s reasoning is that this arrangement “enables closer collaborations between MKs and primary schools on programmes and joint activities, which enrich the learning experience of pre-school children and support their smoother transition to Primary 1” (Ministry of Education, 2017a). But, this reason is then a major draw for parents to send their children to MKs and the demand will only rise as MKs become predictably more successful in the coming years. Furthermore, in 2018, MOE launcheda new partnership with two Anchor Operators (AOPs). In this partnership, Singaporean children enrolled in Nursery 2 in these AOPs were guaranteed a place in a nearby MK (MOE Kindergarten, 2017). So, private ECCE providers, and even education experts, were understandably concerned (Teng, 2017a). One private kindergarten principal reportedly commented that such arrangements would “put private schools which are not affiliated with any primary school at a disadvantage”, while another remarked, “Of course, we are unhappy, as more children will be leaving for MOE kindergartens in order to get priority admission to neighbourhood primary schools” (Teng, 2017b). So, what is the ‘fate’ of the private sector in the ECCE arena? Private operators are, after all, running a business. They are of course concerned with their profit margin and survival. As of 2017, nearly half of Singaporean’s children in the early age group were enrolled in MKs or those under the Anchor Operator and Partner Operator scheme (Chua, 2017). So, what is left for the private ECCE operators that do not wish to join the government schemes, especially the smaller ones? Regarding the concerns of smaller operators that they would be driven out of business, Tan Chuan Jin, who was then the Minister for Social and Family Development, empathized with their worries, but felt that small operators could also be very good at their business and could occupy a niche area in the market. But how private operators should respond to the changing circumstances was something that the government would leave to the players in the sector to organise among themselves (Chua, 2017).

4.4.2 Parents Singapore parents are known to be competitive when it comes to the education of their children. Some parents are so kiasu (the local vernacular that literally means ‘afraid of losing’) that they are willing to undertake many measures so that their children will stay ahead of others. Much has been written about the competitive

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spirit among Singaporean parents when it concerns their children’s education. For example, Ng (2017, p. 162) writes: Kiasu parenting is increasingly pronounced as Singapore becomes more competitive. Parent volunteerism in primary schools is a platform where the kiasu mentality among parents is manifested5. Ideally, parents volunteer to help schools because they are interested and see value in helping schools. To recognize them for their efforts, they get priority if they wish to send their children to the school they have volunteered in. However, nowadays, the volunteer scheme becomes a means for parents to secure their child’s admission into a school of their choice.

Recent ECCE policy developments brought issues about priority admission to primary schools to the fore. Some parents were concerned with the increase in the demand for admission to MKs and they were worried that their children would not get a place in an MK (Mokhtar, 2017). MOE has recently amended the primary one registration framework, which took effect from 2018, to give children enrolled in an MK a slight advantage in gaining admission to the primary school co-located with the MK (for more details regarding this ‘slight advantage’, refer to Ministry of Education, 2017b; ChannelNewsAsia, 2017). Parents whose children did not go to MKs were understandably upset (Davie, 2017a, b, c; Jalelah, 2017). Some pointed out that children not in an MK would be disadvantaged. Others argued this would add further pressure to an already stressful primary one registration system. Some education practitioners felt that the amendment would bring forward the pressure of admission to popular primary schools from primary one registration to kindergarten admission (Teng, 2017a). During parliamentary debates, Member of Parliament Denise Chua expressed her concern (Teng, 2017a): Whilst the said priority admission provides familiarity and less transitional angst for kids who choose the co-located school, it may create other unintended consequences. It may later create more anxiety and stress having to queue at an earlier age for some of the more popular MOE kindergartens.

For some parents who have joined the Parent Volunteer scheme prior to the recent policy announcement in order to gain admission advantage, they felt that their time and effort had been wasted (Jalelah, 2017). Despite the MOE’s assurance that it would continue to set aside enough places for children whose parents volunteered in school, this was a brewing discontent with the amendment (Davie, 2017a, b, c; Jalelah, 2017). A news report carried the story of a parent who was unhappy with the change in the registration framework. This parent, who volunteered at a primary school, had opted earlier not to enroll her five-year-old son in an MK located within the primary school because there was a kindergarten located directly at her block of flat. To improve her son’s chances of securing a place in the primary school, she had been doing volunteer work at the school. The new registration framework now meant that despite her volunteer work, her son would have less priority than if she had enrolled him in the MK. She was frustrated because while she struggled to volunteer her time, she felt other parents would get the priority she deserved through ‘sheer luck’ (Jalelah, 2017). So, the introduction of MKs is reasonable and understandable when one considers the issue from the perspective of addressing national needs. But


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it is not necessarily so from the perspective of an individual parent. The average parent asks: if I do not get my children into MKs, would I not lose out to those who do? Therefore, development in the ECCE sector is not just a matter of better provision through structural changes. There are a series of cultural issues to be addressed. The MOE may now be very active in promoting play and healthy child development in pre-schools. By gauging from the reactions of parents who are trying to get ahead of others, it is not immediately clear whether parents are more concerned about their children having a healthy childhood or getting into a popular primary school.

4.4.3 ECCE Educators The ECCE educators will be the major beneficiaries of this reform. For many years, because the provision of ECCE has been left to the private sector, early childhood teacher education has been commercialized and commodified as well (Lim, 2017). The professional status of ECCE educators and that of their primary and secondary school counterparts stand in stark contrast. Primary and secondary school teachers are prepared and certified by the NIE. They receive a post-graduate diploma in education after their training. For ECCE teachers, while there is some government oversight on the minimum standards that qualify them to teach, these standards are hardly comparable to those of the primary and secondary school sector. For many years now, entry requirements for ECCE teachers have been significantly lower than those of their primary and secondary counterparts. Subsequent professional development and upgrading opportunities were also inferior. Therefore being an early childhood educator is not a career of choice for many, because of the comparatively lower pay and prestige. Now that the sector is quickly expanding, there are plenty of opportunities for qualified teachers and leaders. Singapore has a growing middle-and upper-class that recognize the importance of ECCE. More educated parents have higher expectations of the quality of ECCE and the teachers’ competencies and qualifications. The prestige of ECCE is rising and there are now different employment schemes for ECCE practitioners to consider. Early childhood educators are expected to develop deeper skills and their jobs are projected to grow in scope and complexity. Given this increase in skills and responsibilities, their median salaries have grown by around 15% from 2015–2017 and were projected to rise further. Indeed, ECCE median salaries have outpaced the rise in the general market, which grew by about 8% over the same period (Early Childhood Development Agency, 2018). According to Minister Tan Chuan Jin, there was room for wages in the pre-school sector to grow even further. Given the structured training that would be available at the NIEC, there would be more professional and career development opportunities for early childhood educators (Tang, 2017). With the current emphasis on it, ECCE requires new knowledge and practical applications critically. Research and scholarship in ECCE are also given a boost. For example, the Centre for Research in Child Development (CRCD), based at the NIE

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and funded by the MOE, was established in 2017 to conduct research studies focusing on factors that influence the course of development from early to middle childhood in four areas, namely executive and self-regulatory abilities; social-emotional skills; linguistic skills; and mathematical skills. One critical piece of the centre’s work is a large-scale longitudinal study that tracks children’s development from infancy. The study hopes to develop interventions and practices that will help children develop optimally (National Institute of Education, n.d.)

4.4.4 Government From the point of view of the government, there are several issues that require its attention. Firstly, if its interventions continue to bear fruit, it may need to clarify its stance at some point in time whether ECCE is a public good not to be left to market forces at all, but rather to be provided by the state, like its very successful primary and secondary public school system. Ng Chee Meng, who was then Minister for Education (Schools), clarified that the Government’s initiatives were not an attempt to nationalize ECCE, pointing out that the projected 50 MKs were still a minority compared with the 450 or so kindergartens in the country (Sin & Goy, 2017). But, if the MKs prove to be very successful, there is a question of why the ECCE system should not be modelled after the primary and secondary school system, which is a public school system reporting to the MOE. But that will raise the question whether the government is inadvertently driving an established and lucrative ECCE industry out of business. So, the short to medium term picture is a one in which the system comprises MKs, government supported operators and the more popular private preschools that can attract the parents. What is unclear at this stage is where the long term equilibrium point will and should be. In many ways, ECCE started off with a lot more private sector involvement than the primary and secondary school sector, which was essentially a government effort. But the government is now trying to enter the market, not just to regulate it but be a direct provider. Is this moving in the right direction in the long term—centralization at the expense of diversity? Moreover, if the system becomes one where the MKs become the main stay but the high-end private kindergartens prove to be able to attract wealthy parents with their high-end provisions, some citizens will point out that this is still not fulfilling the social equity rhetoric—the rich are always a step ahead. Secondly, given that the short to mid-term picture is a system that comprises MKs, government supported operators and private pre-schools, the government needs to develop a model to manage this sector rather differently from the public school system that the MOE has been accustomed to. One has to understand that the public primary and secondary schools in Singapore are actually the ‘operational arms’ of the MOE (Ng, 2017). Teachers and school leaders are employees of the MOE. The MOE sets the education policies, and schools implement them with great fidelity to the policy intention, albeit with empowerment to decide the means of achieving the ends. Using this ‘centralised decentralisation’ education governance approach,


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what the Singapore primary and secondary education system achieves is ‘strategic alignment, tactical empowerment’ (Ng, 2017). The MOE can of course manage the MKs like primary schools. But the other kindergartens and centres are not under its control. Indeed, they are competitors, needing to survive financially and not necessarily adhering to national directions. Therein lies a dilemma in the ECCE sector. Should this sector be managed in a way that is glaringly different from the primary and secondary public school system? The question was not pertinent in the past because ECCE was perceived as a private sector business and the awareness of its importance not as heightened as what it is now. There is reasonable hope of working well together though. According to a news report, the chief executive of a high-end private operator said (Goy & Sin, 2017a, b): We put our faith in the (Government) that they would consider holistically how both government-supported pre-schools and private ones - that have been doing a good job since the 1980s - can play an equal part in this new landscape… We see ourselves as one industry, not ‘government and private’, and our focus is on children and their needs.

Thirdly, it is increasingly difficult to satisfy the desires of parents. There is a rapidly growing demand for quality ECCE in the country and the introduction of MKs is supposed to give parents more options. But, instead of giving parents more options for their children, the subsequent primary one admission rule change inadvertently entices parents to choose MKs and its partner AOPs. Co-locating MKs with primary schools, although well intended, has unintended but significant impact on non-government pre-schools. Anxious parents start to strategize as early as kindergarten 1 to feel more secure that their child will eventually be admitted in a primary school of their choice. Of course, at this early stage, 50 MKs cannot serve the entire country. So, the choice of kindergarten is still a matter of parents’ decisions among the various options. But, if the MKs are successful and heavily subsidized, will the parents not demand more MKs? So, how many MKs will satisfy the parents without nationalizing ECCE? Any significant system change will come with many implementation challenges. However, in the case of ECCE, the main challenge is not a technical one of providing more resources, better coordination and more choices via MKs. It is rather a philosophical, cultural and systemic one. The government has made a choice to intervene directly in ECCE to boost quality and promote social equity. But, the challenge for the government is to find the common ground among the competing demands and considerations.

4.5 Conclusion Paradoxically, the recent developments in ECCE appear to be solving practical problems while raising philosophical ones . But they do bring the importance of ECCE into sharper focus and give developments in the ECCE sector impetus and momentum.

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ECCE is no longer an optional service but a high priority item in Singapore’s educational development. Various pieces that are not so well coordinated in the past are now consolidated into an umbrella movement. The ECCE movement addresses only an educational issue but also equity gap among Singaporean families. But, as the chapter has shown, the recent developments in the ECCE sector can be rather complex and multidimensional. The trajectory ahead is not entirely straightforward. First, the government’s aim of social equity is laudable. But by stepping into the arena as a direct player rather than just a stricter referee, the dynamics has changed. The average citizen may see this as a movement to improve overall quality. But to the private operators running an ECCE business, it is direct competition. Although the number of MKs is small at this moment, there is every possibility that the numbers will increase in the future. It is unclear whether the private sector will fully come on board with a body that assumes both player and regulator roles. Second, primary one registration is already a very competitive affair. Will ECCE become another arena for competition? As rules develop regarding ECCE provision and admission, a much more educated and vocal citizenry will cry foul at every hint of perceived unfairness. Third, there is an increasing need to upgrade the professional capital (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012) within the ECCE sector as educators rethink what it means by quality curriculum and pedagogy that will give children a healthy childhood and yet prepare them for a rigorous primary school curriculum. Given the direction of ECCE, there is a degree of eclecticism in rhetoric and practice of education management in Singapore—different arguments for different purposes. It is too early to discern a consistent practice of the rhetoric in its different aspects. The key philosophical question that Singapore has to answer for itself is whether ECCE is a public good to be delivered by the state like the primary and secondary education. If it is, then it is on the right track, but the private sector will understandably be gravely concerned. If it is not, then the question will arise as to why not, since primary and secondary education is. This question is of concern to all parties because many would want to understand the thinking behind the future direction of change. While the government is making concrete moves in the sector, the optimal conditions for ECCE to be successful, and the measurement of its degree of success, or otherwise, are not fully defined at this juncture. But Singapore is moving forward with its reform, negotiating challenges as it moves along. Singapore’s ECCE developments can be instructive to the world. Education has always been a public good in Singapore. But ECCE has been left to market forces for many years. Lim (2017, p. 28) argued: In a neoliberal market, these policies continue to pose issues of concern related to equity, including feasibility of access to early childhood settings and services for vulnerable children and families. It remains to be seen if a private and commercial ECCE market, with an appropriate degree of governmental control, can indeed improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of ECCE in Singapore.

Since the government is now entering the market, it seems to indicate that market forces, even with some regulation, are insufficient to ensure quality and equitable access to this good, at least in the case of ECCE in Singapore. Is this a case study


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of the limitations of neo-liberalism in the management of education systems? For an education sector that has always been privatized and managed with a light touch, the government is exerting control and bringing more and more aspects of ECCE into the government fold. How will the dynamics of reform play out? Is this the beginning of the end of neo-liberalism in ECCE in Singapore? Will a model in which market forces and government actions co-exist constructively emerge? Many stakeholders will be keenly watching the ECCE space for further developments.

References Barnett, W. S., & Masse, L. (2007). Early childhood program design and economic returns: Comparative benefit-cost analysis of the Abecedarian program and policy implications. Economics of Education Review, 26, 113–125. Campbell, F. A., & Burchinal, M. R. (2008). Early childhood interventions: The Abecedarian Project. In P. Kyllonen, R. Roberts, & L. Stankov (Eds.), Extending intelligence: Enhancement and new constructs (pp. 51–70). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group. ChannelNewsAsia. (2017, November 27). 5 questions answered on MOE kindergartens’ priority admission scheme. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/5-questi ons-answered-on-moe-kindergartens-priority-admission-9444036. Chia, L. (2017, August 23). New National Institute of Early Childhood Development to take first batch of students in 2019. ChannelNewsAsia Online. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-national-institute-of-early-childh ood-development-to-take-9149528. Chua, A. (2017, August 22). Govt to oversee two-thirds of pre-school sector by 2023. Today Online, retrieved from https://todayonline.com/singapore/govt-oversee-two-thirds-pre-schoolsector-2023. Currie, J. (2001). Early Childhood Education Programs. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 15(2), 213–238. Davie, S. (2017a, November 28). Pick a private or MOE kindergarten? The Straits Times Online. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/pick-a-private-or-moe-kinder garten. Davie, S. (2017b, December 6). Priority admission: A boost for equity, not equality. The Straits Times Online. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/priority-admission-a-boostfor-equity-not-inequality. Davie, S. (2017c, November 27). Should I now aim to send my child to an MOE kindergarten instead of a private one? The Straits Times Online. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/should-i-now-aim-to-send-my-child-toan-moe-kindergarten-instead-of-a-private. Early Childhood Development Agency. (2014). Higher Fee Assistance for More Affordable Kindergarten Education. Retrieved from https://www.ecda.gov.sg/PressReleases/Pages/Higher-Fee-Ass istance-For-More-Affordable-Kindergarten-Education.aspx. Early Childhood Development Agency. (2018). Government to Set Aside Over $5 Million in the Next Three Years to Develop Leaders in the Early Childhood Sector. Retrieved from https://www. ecda.gov.sg/PressReleases/Pages/GOVERNMENT-TO-SET-ASIDE-OVER-$5-MILLION-INTHE-NEXT-THREE-YEARS-TO-DEVELOP-LEADERS-IN-THE-EARLY-CHILDHOODSECTOR.aspx. Goy, P., & Sin, Y. (2017a, August 23). National institute for pre-school educators to take in first batch of students in 2019. The Straits Times Online. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/ singapore/national-institute-for-pre-school-educators-to-take-in-first-batch-of-students-in-2019.

4 Change in the Early Childhood Care and Education Sector in Singapore


Goy P. & Sin Y. (2017b, August 27). High-end pre-school operators still confident they can attract parents. The Straits Times Online. Retrieved from https://straitstimes.com/singapore/education/ high-end-pre-school-operators-still-confident-they-can-attract-parents. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press. Hawazi, D. (2014). Speech by Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower at the Debate on President’s Address 2014. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sg/news/speeches/speech-by-mr-hawazi-daipi–senior-parliamentary-sec retary–ministry-of-education-and-ministry-of-manpower-at-the-debate-on-presidentand8217saddress-2014–26-may-2014. Heng, S. K. (2013, March 13). FY 2013 Committee of Supply Debate: 1st Reply by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education: Hope—Opportunities For All. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sg/news/speeches/fy-2013-committee-of-supply-debate –1st-reply-by-mr-heng-swee-keat–minister-for-education–hope—opportunities-for-all. Jalelah, A. B. (2017, November 27). Parents express concern, joy over move that gives MOE kindergarten kids ‘unexpected advantage’, ChannelNewsAsia Online. Retrieved from https://www.cha nnelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/parents-express-concern-joy-over-move-that-gives-moe-944 4898. Lee, H. L. (2017). National Day Rally 2017. Singapore: Prime Minister’s Office. Retrieved from http://www.pmo.gov.sg/national-day-rally-2017. Lim, S. (2017). Marketization and Corporation of Early Childhood Care and Education in Singapore. In M. Li, J. Fox, & S. Grieshaber (Eds.), Contemporary Issues and challenge in early childhood education in the Asia-Pacific region (pp. 17–32). Singapore: Springer. Lim-Ratnam, C. (2013). Tensions in defining quality pre-school education: The Singapore context. Educational Review, 65(4), 416–431. McCain, M. N., Mustard, J. F., & Shanker, S. (2007). Early years study 2: Putting science into action. Toronto, ON: Council for Early Child Development. Ministry of Education. (2010). Launch of Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/data/pdfdoc/20101130006/press_ release_for_spark_at_klf2010_23_nov_embargoed(vdd).pdf. Ministry of Education. (2013a). MOE’s First Five Pilot Kindergartens in Primary Schools and The Community. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sg/news/press-releases/moe-s-first-five-pilotkindergartens-in-primary-schools-and-the-community. Ministry of Education. (2013b). MOE Kindergartens’ Curriculum Features Distinct Singapore Flavour and Flagship Programmes. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sg/news/press-releases/ moe-kindergartens–curriculum-features-distinct-singapore-flavour-and-flagship-programmes. Ministry of Education. (2013c). Refreshed Kindergarten Curriculum Framework Spells Out Clearer Learning Outcomes, Emphasises Holistic Development. Retrieved from https://www. moe.gov.sg/news/press-releases/refreshed-kindergarten-curriculum-framework-spells-out-cle arer-learning-outcomes–emphasises-holistic-development. Ministry of Education. (2017a). Laying a Stronger Foundation for Our Children. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sg/microsites/moekindergarten/assets/pdf/press-laying-a-stronger-founda tion-for-our-children.pdf. Ministry of Education (MOE). (2017b). Primary One Registration Framework. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sg/docs/default-source/document/media/press/2017/annex-b—phase-2a2eligibility-for-mk-children.pdf. MOE Kindergarten (2017). Pilot Collaboration with Anchor Operators. Retrieved from https:// www.moe.gov.sg/microsites/moekindergarten/our-partnerships/pilot-collaboration-with-anc hor-operators.html. Mokhtar, F. (2017, November 27). Appeal of MOE Kindergartens will shoot up, parents say. Today Online. Retrieved from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/appeal-moe-kindergartens-willshoot-parents-say.


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National Education Association. (2008). Policy brief: Early Childhood Education and School Readiness. Washington, D.C. NEA Education Policy and Practice Department, Center for Great Public Schools. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/mf_PB03_EarlyChildhood.pdf. National Institute of Education. (n.d.). Centre for Research in Child Development. Retrieved from https://www.nie.edu.sg/research/research-offices/office-of-education-research/centre-forresearch-in-child-development. Ng, J. (2011). Preschool curriculum and policy changes in Singapore. Asia Pacific Journal of Research on Early Childhood Education, 5(1), 91–122. Ng, P. T. (2017). Learning from Singapore: The power of Paradoxes. New York: Routledge. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2010). Obstacles to social mobility weaken equal opportunities and economic growth, says OECD study. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/economy/obstaclestosocialmobilityweakenequalopportunitiesandec onomicgrowthsaysoecdstudy.htm. Parliamentary Replies. (2017, September 11). Impact of Anchor Operators and MK Expansion on Non-Government Supported Operators. Retrieved from https://moe.gov.sg/news/parliamen tary-replies/impact-of-anchor-operators-and-mk-expansion-on-non-government-supported-ope rators. Rolnick, A., & Grunewald, R. (2003). Early childhood development: Economic development with a high public return. Minneapolis, MN: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Schweinhart, L. J., Montie, J., Xiang Z., Barnett, W. S., Belfield, C. R. & Nores, M. (2005). Lifetime Effects: The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 40 (Ypsilanti, Michigan: High/Scope Educational Research Foundation). Retrieved from www.highscope.org/Research/PerryProject/ perrymain.htm. Sin, Y. (2017, August 24). New institute will cater to 60 per cent of trainee teachers. The Straits Times Online. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/new-institutewill-cater-to-60-of-trainee-teachers. Sin, Y. & Goy, P. (2017, August 27). Private pre-schools worry about being edged out. The Straits Times Online. Retrieved from https://straitstimes.com/singapore/education/private-pre-schoolsworry-about-being-edged-out. Tang, L. (2017, August 29). Salaries for early childhood educators can go up more: Tan ChuanJin. Today Online. Retrieved from https://todayonline.com/singapore/salaries-early-childhoodeducators-can-go-more-tan-chuan-jin. Teng, A. (2017a, November 27). Move could hit private kindergartens, increase pressure at K1 registration: Experts. The Straits Times Online. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/sin gapore/education/move-could-hit-private-kindergartens-increase-pressure-at-k1-registration. Teng, A. (2017b, November 28). Private pre-schools concerned about priority admission for MOE kindergarten children. The Straits Times Online. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes. com/singapore/education/private-preschools-concerned-about-priority-admission-for-moe-kin dergarten. UNICEF (n.d.). Early childhood development: the key to a full and productive life. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/dprk/ecd.pdf.

Pak Tee Ng [National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU)] is a Singaporean educator who is deeply involved in the development of school and teacher leaders. At the NIE, he has previously served as Associate Dean Leadership Learning and Head of the Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group. He has delivered numerous keynote speeches around the world, including the more recent ones at the Google Global Education Symposium and the International Baccalaureate Global Conference. He is currently a member of Scotland’s International Council of Education Advisers and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University.

Chapter 5

The English School Reforms: Competition, Innovation and Fragmentation Mel Ainscow and Maija Salokangas

The last 30 years have seen efforts by successive governments, of different political persuasions, to improve the English education system. Common to all of these reform efforts is a concern to close the gap in attainment between students from economically disadvantaged students and their peers, although the approaches tried have varied considerably. More recently, they have involved an increased emphasis on the idea of allowing schools greater autonomy within a policy context based on market forces as the main improvement strategy. In this chapter, we analyse these developments in order to draw lessons for those in other countries who are interested in promoting greater equity within their national education systems. This leads us to argue that whilst school autonomy can be a positive force—particular where it encourages teachers to work together in exploring more inclusive practices—it requires coordination at the local level and the introduction of accountability arrangements that provide space for experimentation, as well as resources to promote the professional development of teachers.

5.1 School Autonomy As countries throughout the world seek to improve their national education systems there is an increasing emphasis on the idea of school autonomy (Meyland-Smith & Evans, 2009). This takes a variety of forms and the schools involved have different M. Ainscow (B) University of Manchester, Manchester, UK e-mail: [email protected] University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK M. Salokangas Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_5



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titles, such as charter schools in the USA, free schools in Sweden, academies in England and independent public schools in parts of Australia. Implicit in these new types of independent state funded schools is an assumption that greater autonomy will allow space for the development of organisational arrangements, practices, and forms of management and leadership, that will be more effective in promoting the learning of all of their students, particularly those from economically disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. This global policy trend is a matter of considerable debate and there are varied views as to the extent to which it is leading to the desired outcomes. In particular, there is a concern that the development of education systems based on autonomy, coupled with high-stakes accountability and increased competition between schools, will further disadvantage learners from low-income and minority families. Across countries that have adopted the idea of school autonomy, we also see evidence of a worrying trend towards greater segregation. For example in Sweden segregation has grown within the education system since the introduction of marketbased reforms, including autonomous free schools (Bunar, 2010; Wiborg, 2010). In the USA this is particularly ironic, since one of the early advocates of charter schools, Albert Shanker, the then president of the American Federation of Teachers, intended that they would address the problem created by community segregation in order to develop schools that bring together children from different backgrounds. He also anticipated that they would facilitate greater involvement of teachers in decision making (Kahlenberg & Potter, 2014). Meanwhile, there is limited evidence regarding what is actually happening inside these schools in relation to decision-making about policies and practice, and the extent to which this is leading to increased innovation and improved educational outcomes. This lack of evidence arises, in part at least, because these developments are relatively recent. It is also the case that researchers have found it difficult to get access to the schools in ways that would allow them to dig deeper into what goes on because of the intensive political pressures that are often associated with their existence.

5.2 The English Reforms A major strand in the move towards school autonomy in England has been the rapid expansion of the academies programme. This involves schools being funded directly by national government, rather than through a local authority.1 The foundations for academies were laid well before the programme was launched, during the period of the Thatcher governments from 1979 to 1997, with the creation of what were called grant-maintained schools. Some of the other key policy changes of that era that had long-term consequences included: the creation of a free market approach 1 There

are 152 local authorities in England. Traditionally they have been responsible for schools in their areas.

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to education by increasing parental choice and school diversity; the publication of school inspection reports and public league tables of school ‘performance’ in tests; local management of schools, including changes in funding allocations to a per-pupil basis; and the introduction of the national curriculum (West & Bailey, 2013). Academies were launched in the year 2001 with the aim of replacing inner-city secondary schools that were defined as requiring ‘special measures’ as a result of being inspected. What was distinctive about the early academies was that, although they were state-funded, they became autonomous from local authority control, had their own sponsor, and were given greater freedom regarding the national curriculum and national agreements on teachers’ pay and conditions. Instead of local authority governance, these schools are self-governing non-profit charitable trusts, the terms of which are set out in an individual funding agreement. However, like all other statefunded schools in England, they are subject to regular inspections and their students sit the same national exams as their peers in other schools. Since these earlier initiatives, the academies programme has undergone considerable changes and growth. Following the election of the Conservative-led coalition government in 2010, and then the Conservative government in 2015, it has moved from targeting urban secondary schools seen as ‘failing’, to a system-wide structural change causing seismic shifts in the English education landscape. Writing about this reform, Eyles and Machin (2015) comment: The academies programme that has been undertaken in English education is turning out to be one of the most radical and encompassing programmes of school reform that has been seen in the recent past in advanced countries (page 1).

An independent Commission set up to review these developments pointed out that the original aim of academies was ‘to address entrenched failure in schools with low performance, most particularly, schools located in the most disadvantaged parts of the country’ (Husbands, Gilbert, Francis, & Wigdortz, 2013: 4). Since then, the focus has changed towards increasing the autonomy of all schools and setting up new academies throughout the country. Meanwhile, all new schools that open must now take the form of free schools, using the academies legislation as their legal framework. Since 2010, government policies have also encouraged relatively successful schools to convert to academy status, as well as further emphasizing the idea of forcing schools in difficulty to become members of an academy chain. Together, these responses have accelerated the pace of change, leading to the years 2010– 2013 being referred to as the ‘Wild West’ of academy growth (Ladd & Fiske, 2016). Consequently, the number of schools that have become academies is such that, by July 2016, 60% of secondary schools and 18% primary schools were operating under academy status, with about two-thirds of them being converter rather than sponsored academies (DfE, 2016). Considering that the number of academies up and running in the year 2010 was only 272, the rise to approximately 6,000 by the summer of 2017, indicates that the pace of change has been fierce. These developments are set within a policy context in which the dominant model has become schools linking together in multi-academy trusts, with oversight coming


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from national rather than local government (Mansell, 2016). This has also brought with it new players, as noted in a report the House of Commons Education Select Committee, which states: Academy sponsorship has encouraged and facilitated the contribution of individuals not previously involved in education provision and laid down a challenge to maintained schools to improve or face replacement by the insurgent academy model. HoC Education Committee (2015: 3)

As a result of this expanding academies programme, the education system in England has become increasingly diverse. Furthermore, the introduction of various other types of schools that operate under the academy legislation—such as free schools, studio schools and university technical colleges—has contributed to the complexity of the scene. Indeed, in a mapping exercise of schools, based on legal status, curricular specialism, student selection, types of academy and school groupings, Courtney (2015) identifies as many as 70 or more types of school are currently operating in the English system. All of which suggests that, autonomous schools are well on the way to becoming the system of English state education, which makes it a particularly interesting case to study. However, what is not yet clear is the impact on those working within this remodelled system.

5.3 Taking a Closer Look We were able to take a close look of the impact of this radical reform agenda within schools through our longitudinal study of ‘Parkside’,2 one of the first academies set up (see Salokangas & Ainscow, 2017, for a more detailed account of this research). Our account was developed as a result of Mel’s involvement as a participant observer over a ten-year period period. During that time, data were also generated in the school in relation to a number of more formal research studies. More in-depth evidence was collected through systematic ethnographic research carried out by Maija, who spent over a year in the school, examining documents, observing practices and decisionmaking, and carrying out interviews. Parkside Academy was seen as something of a flagship of one of the larger academy groups operating in England. When it opened in the early 2000s, it was located in the building of its predecessor school and then moved into purpose-built accommodation some 24 months later. The Principal was appointed before the new school opened, giving her time to assess the situation and formulate what were to be radical changes in the way it would operate. For example, one of us was present when she announced to the staff that teachers, as well as students, would be expected to follow a dress code once the new school opened. The Principal also made a decision to distance the school from the local authority of which it had previously been part. 2 All

names have been changed to avoid identification of the school.

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As we have explained, the early academies programme was aimed at inner city secondary schools seen to be ‘failing’. The argument supporting this policy was that closing down a failing school operating in challenging circumstances, and with a history of poor examination results, and replacing it with an academy would cut the cycle of underperformance. This was explained in the 2001 Green paper, ‘Schools: Building on success—Raising standards, promoting diversity, achieving results’ (DfEE, 2001): City Academies offer a radical option to help raise achievement in areas of historic underperformance… City Academies are all-ability schools with the capacity to transform the education of children in areas of disadvantage and need. They will raise standards by innovative approaches to management, governance, teaching and the curriculum, offering a broad and balanced curriculum with a specialist focus in one area.

As with all of the first wave of academies, Parkside replaced a secondary school with a bad reputation. It is located in an urban district we call ‘Green End’, an area which is associated with a history of severe financial and social disadvantage, as well as cultural diversity. In terms of the diverse multicultural nature of the area, according to Census 2001, just over 50% of the ward’s population consisted of ethnic minority groups. Of these groups, African-Caribbean and Black African are the largest groups, others including Indian, Pakistani and Chinese. Green End has been reported to lack social cohesion, with tensions—and at times, open conflicts—between resident groups. There were race-riots in the early 1980s, of which a social worker in the area commented: ‘The disturbances have to be set aside the background of young people in the area being denied hope. The local schools’ expectations of them were pretty low.’ While those with long connections to the area feel that it is now safer, more cohesive, and more prosperous than in the 1970s and 1980s, there remain concerns about incidents of gun crime and gang violence Having said that, it is important not to fall into the trap of assuming that everything about the area is a problem. One of us was part of a team of researchers that carried out an analysis of the area during the early years of Parkside’s existence (Ainscow et al., 2007). This pointed to the many assets and resources that can be built on. So, for example, we found that there are many within the community that have a high regard for what schools have to offer. Indeed, some families have gone through enormous difficulties to bring their children to a part of the world that they see as offering many opportunities to achieve a better life. Fair access to an appropriate education is seen to be a key equity issue in relation to secondary education in the Green End area. Amongst the secondary schools serving learners from the area, apart from Parkside, there is a faith school and three single sex schools. In addition, there are, within a short bus journey, three independent selective grammar schools, where families are required to pay fees. This diversity of provision is rather typical of the pattern across England, although the details vary from place to place. During the period when Parkside was opened, local authority officers reported an established ‘hierarchy of desirability’ based on attainment, with the faith school at the top and the Academy at the bottom. Data at that time also revealed distinct


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patterns in school populations, with the faith school catering predominantly for white and Afro-Caribbean learners; the separate girls’ and boys’ schools, white and Asian learners; while Parkside had a much more ethnically diverse population. One parent explained these patterns as resulting from particular groups of parents choosing to send their children to schools where, in the light of growing inter-ethnic tensions within the district, ‘they thought they would be safe’. Government policies to increase parental choice and, with this, diversity in educational provision, were reported to be doing little to change the nature of educational provision in the area, nor was it equitable in terms of access. The view was expressed that ‘all schools in the area select’, and that this was particularly the case with the higher attaining schools, which attracted more applicants than places. Meanwhile, some parents were seen to be better able to manoeuver the admissions system than others, leading to a lack of choice for ill-informed families—who are also often the most vulnerable families. It was suggested to us that these families often assume that their child will go to the nearest school and do not complete admissions procedures, meaning that the local authority is unable to act to facilitate access to schooling. Parents were also reported to make school choices based on factors such as whether they liked the uniform and local hearsay, with schools’ reputations and their actual performance not necessarily matching. Some parents were known to express a negative preference, making comments such as, ‘I want my child to go anywhere other than the Academy’, with the consequence that their child ended up going to the only schools left open to them as alternatives. In terms of their academic profiles and levels of deprivation, these schools were, at the time, on a par with Parkside, and children who attended them had to travel significant distances and were therefore unlikely to have many peers from their local neighbourhood alongside them in the classroom. As a result of these historical factors, it is reasonable to assume that, when it was set up, Parkside Academy had a more ‘challenging’ intake than other secondary schools serving the area. Certainly, its student population was drawn almost exclusively from the immediate locality. It also tended to include those whose parents did not look to exercise a choice through local authority admissions procedures, and those children who did not get places at other ‘more desirable’ schools. Compared to the other schools in the area, the Academy’s intake was, therefore, skewed towards those experiencing the highest levels of deprivation in the area.

5.4 A School on the Move Three key issues rose from our study of developments at Parkside: the dynamic nature of improvement; the relationship between school autonomy and teacher autonomy; and the role of the sponsor in decision-making. Focusing firstly on the dynamic nature of improvement, during its first five years, Parkside was reshaped into a context characterised by greater optimism, a safer working climate and much higher

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expectations. This was reflected in the school’s massively improved results in national examinations and, eventually, in an inspection report that designated it as being ‘outstanding’ (Salokangas & Ainscow, 2017). It is also important to report that we have subsequently heard reports from former students who talk with pride regarding their experience at the school, not least the impact that the Principal and staff have had on their post-school life chances. In all these respects, what was achieved at Parkside in its early years was remarkable by any standards. It is also an encouraging example of how the policy of giving schools that are struggling a new start and greater freedom, under different management and governance arrangement, can act as a catalyst for improvement. However, some years later, following a series of changes in leadership and staffing, the examination results declined and a subsequent inspection led Parkside to be designated as ‘requiring improvement’ (Salokangas & Ainscow, 2017). This suggests that, despite the short-term success of the strategies that were used to improve examination results, they are unlikely to ensure longer-term improvements. It also leads us to challenge the assumption embedded in the academy policy rhetoric suggesting that increased autonomy will necessarily lead to greater freedom to innovate amongst teaching staff. Secondly, our research throws light on the way that teacher autonomy was constrained in this otherwise autonomous school. In particular, we saw how the standards-driven culture and a highly regulated assessment policy limited teachers’ pedagogical decision-making, not only framing their assessment practices, but impacting indirectly on their curricular decisions. This became most apparent through the ways in which planning and teaching were designed and conducted to most efficiently prepare students for examinations. Within this context, the overhanging fear of failure in examinations was seen to make staff reluctant to become involved in any form of risk-taking. This is peculiar, since one of the core arguments supporting early academies was that teachers were have more freedom to innovate in their practice. Thirdly, the evidence we collected portrays an image of an organisation with a heavily centralised approach to governance. In particular, we saw how decisionmaking regarding leadership recruitment and the membership of the local governing body, plus the existence of a powerful executive board, were symptomatic of an organisation holding significant levels of central power. And, inevitably, this meant that less space is left available for those stakeholders away from the centre. Meanwhile, Parkside’s sponsor did embrace the autonomy to which academies are entitled in dealing with various factors to do with the running of Parkside. In particular, we heard how staff reported lower pay and longer hours than their colleagues enjoy in the maintained sector. How far these differences are notable and, as such, how significant are the savings the sponsor gains from these contracts and in what ways these possible gains are spent, were questions beyond the scope of our research. These changes reflect the increased autonomy of academies, particularly when it comes to decisions about major areas of policy. Significantly, they took place in the absence of the involvement of a local authority that might have been in a position to offer constructive advice from a more detached perspective.


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Importantly, our account of developments in Parkside also throws light on processes which can lead a school that has been ‘turned round’ to go into decline. The idea that schools regress to the mean is far from new but, to our knowledge, there are few if any ethnographic accounts of how the process of regression actually happens. In the case of Parkside, it seems that the erosion of professional autonomy may well have been a factor in the school’s regression. Once this has gone, we suggest, a school has less resilience to deal with the difficulties it faces. In such contexts, schools need to be autonomous only insofar as this means being free (and competent) to follow instructions from above. There may be some real autonomy at different levels, but the autonomy is always prescribed. If the instructions from on high are flawed, or if they fail to deal effectively with local circumstances, there is little else for the system to fall back on.

5.5 Wider Implications Linking our analysis of developments at Parkside to other research leads us to argue that, that although English academies are legally freed from the national curriculum— which arguably gives them space to experiment with educational approaches—this autonomy is largely theoretical. Based on this evidence, we conclude that because an academy’s performance is measured against the same national performance indicators as other schools, in reality, examinations and inspections set a tight frame for educational practice in these schools (Salokangas & Ainscow, 2017; Kauko & Salokangas, 2015). In the case of Parkside, the pressures this created led the sponsoring organisation to centralise much of the decision making. As a result, Parkside’s sponsor was seen to have a significant capacity to experiment with matters to do with the school’s management, governance and administration, which it utilised actively. The approaches introduced included: altering teaching pay and conditions; extending the school day; and shortening holidays for senior leaders in comparison to the maintained sector contracts. They also included alternative approaches to principal recruitment, as well as minimising the involvement of local governors. These ways in which the sponsor actively used the freedoms it had under the legislation to experiment echo developments reported from other sponsored academies in England (see, for example, Kulz, 2015; Salokangas & Chapman, 2014; Stevenson, 2016). They are also in line with the views of one of the key architects of the early academies policy, Andrew Adonis, who was at that time Minister of State for Education. In his book ‘Education, Education, Education: Reforming England’s Schools’, Adonis clarifies how the autonomy associated with academies should be understood: Academies are independent state schools but it is often stated, wrongly, that the magic academy ingredient is independence alone. Rather, it is strong, independent governance and leadership. To be effective, the governors - and the headteachers and management teams they appoint and sustain – need to be unambiguously in control of their schools without

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managerial interference from local and national bureaucracies… It is crucial to understand that ‘independence’ and ‘sponsorship’ go together and cannot be separated. (Adonis, 2012: 123–124)

In these senses, Parkside can be seen as an exemplary case of a sponsored academy. Relating our analysis of what happened at Parkside Academy to more recent international developments, confirms our view that such reforms are increasingly shaped by a belief that improvements in schools will be achieved by an intensification of market forces that increase competition. In this context, parental choice is seen to encourage schools to try harder in order to improve their performance within national testing systems, which are focused on a relatively narrow set of learning outcomes. As a result, the innovations taking place tend to mainly involve changes in governance, management and administrative arrangements, often within groupings of schools. This market-based thinking contrasts with the views of some of the early school autonomy supporters (e.g. Kahlenberg & Potter, 2014), whose purpose was to provide greater space for school level practitioners to explore ways of working that would best suit their particular students. In this way of thinking, independent state schools were seen as laboratories that are intended to generate new ways of working that can be shared with other schools in order to promote a kind of bottom-up system-wide change. Some advocates also stressed the importance of schools having strong links with their local communities and the other schools that serve them (Meyland-Smith & Evans, 2009). There are many individual examples, not least Parkside Academy, which show that greater autonomy can be effective in promoting rapid improvements in the attainment of students as measured by national testing systems, including those from disadvantaged and minority populations. However, the overall evidence from other countries we have considered is less convincing (Salokangas & Ainscow, 2017). There are also concerns that where progress has been achieved this has involved the use of standardized, one-size-fits-all responses, within an approach that involves a narrowing of the educational diet. However, the extent to which educational success and failure should be based on the narrow view of education that standardised testing implies is an important question which should be discussed and challenged. Similarly, there is little international evidence to suggest that independent state schools are promoting greater social integration within school systems, another of the hopes of early advocates. Indeed, there are worrying trends suggesting movement in an opposite direction (e.g. Kahlenberg & Potter, 2014; Swanson, 2017; Wiborg, 2010). In terms of overall improvements, this has to be a concern, since there is increasing evidence that learner diversity can be a catalyst for bringing practitioners together in ways that stimulate professional learning. For example, the progress that has occurred in London and other urban contexts in England over the last 15 years, illustrate the potential of adopting such an inclusive approach (Ainscow, 2015; Claeys et al., 2014; Greaves et al., 2014; Hutchings et al., 2012). Related to all of this, the expectation that these reforms would lead to reductions in bureaucracy as a result of local authorities having little, if any, involvement in the management of schools is another important issue. The worry is that, as with


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Parkside, the efforts of ‘new’ administrators to centralise policy decisions for their groups of schools have simply replaced one form of top-down control with another. Meanwhile, there are concerns that no one organisation has an overall coordinating role within a local district, such that existing inequities of provision could continue and, possibly, grow. Having said of all of that, it is encouraging to report that there are examples of academies and multi-academy trusts that continue to develop creative and principled ways of working (Kerr & Ainscow, 2017). Whilst they necessarily satisfy narrow national requirements in terms of curriculum and outcomes, people in these schools seem to understand education to be about more than measured attainment and have a broader view of how their students live and what they need to develop into successful adults. This view leads them to address a wider range of factors that disadvantage some of their students than prior attainments. It may also lead some schools to develop a view of education which is about processes rather than outcomes alone, and which therefore sees diversity in terms of respect and recognition, rather than as a barrier to achievement.

5.6 Drawing Out the Lessons By focusing on developments in England, we have examined the implications of a growing international trend that promotes greater school autonomy as the means of improving state education systems. As we have explained, the assumption is that this will allow space for innovations, leading to new organisational arrangements, practices, and forms of management and leadership, that will be more effective in promoting the learning of all students. This global policy trend remains a matter of considerable debate and, as we have noted, there are varied views as to the extent to which it is leading to the desired outcomes. Meanwhile, there is limited evidence regarding what is actually happening within these schools in relation to decision-making about policies and practice, and the extent to which this is leading to increased innovation and improved educational outcomes. Our case study of Parkside has begun the process of filling this gap. In drawing out lessons from this experience, we adopt a pragmatic view that takes account of the fact that the movement towards greater autonomy is picking up speed across the world. In addressing this agenda, we also recognise that there are no simple solutions to what are complex problems. What we can do, however, is to reach out to reformers, and to local actors involved in negotiating reforms, in order to offer them signposts and critical thinking tools that can inform their future actions. We have argued that, in the main, autonomous school reforms in England have not, as yet, successfully delivered on their ambitious promises. A central reason for this is that there are have been contradicting forces at play, pulling the reforms in different directions. The coexistence of these forces has created tensions that have

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blurred the sense of purpose. In so doing, this has hindered autonomous schools from achieving what they were expected to achieve. In summary, we see three main contradictory forces. First of all, there is a tension between free market approaches and educational equity. As we have shown, the autonomous school movement is closely aligned with free market approaches in education, i.e. increased choice and competition, deregulation of provision, and opening public school management and governance to new players. The argument put forward to support these moves suggests that they will enhance educational opportunities for all children, since parents will be in a better position to choose what they see as the ‘best’ school. This, in turn, will enhance competition, so that standards in all schools will rise. However, if we look at evidence from different countries across the world, it becomes evident that market approaches in education have not helped in achieving educational equity and social justice. For example, parental choice and competition between schools has widened the gap between desirable schools and less desirable schools in countries as varied as: Chile (Carrasco et al., 2015), Sweden (Wiborg, 2010) and Finland (Kosunen, 2014). This evidence suggests that divisions between what are seen as ‘good’ and ’bad’ schools contribute to social injustice in varied ways. What it also tells us, is that middle class, well-educated and wealthier parents tend to be much more capable at making preferable choices in competitive school markets than parents from more disadvantaged backgrounds (Ball, 2003; van Zanten, 2009; Waslander, Pater, & van der Weide, 2010). In addition, where countries have a private fee-paying tier, these schools mainly serve better off families. These examples provide a flavour as to how market approaches in education, including autonomous school reforms, have failed to create more equitable school systems. They lead us to join the growing ranks of researchers contesting the argument that the education market will fix the system from within and, in so doing, reduce social inequalities to the particular advantage of learners from minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Instead, we argue that if we truly want to see progress towards educational equity, some degree of steering is needed in ensuring that the students in most need receive the support they require. The second tension arises from the belief in innovation as a fix for many of the ills that are seen to exist in schools. In contrast, we argue that blind belief in innovations ‘for innovations sake’ is incompatible with the nature of work taking place in schools. Let us illustrate what we mean. Innovation has become a buzzword in recent years, which, as a term, carries great promise of a quick fix and a brighter future. However, it is not only education policy and public discourses that have been plagued with innovation hype, but public policy and governance more widely (Hodgson, 2012; Russell & Vinsel, 2016). This belief in the power of innovation as a solution to many ills can be traced back to technology industry discourses. Indeed, parallels have been drawn between autonomous school innovations and technological developments. So, for example, some promoters of disruptive innovation in education have claimed that charter schools should disrupt the education monopoly (Jacobs, 2015), following the direction taken by Uber in developing its taxi empire (Haeffele-Balch & Boettke, 2016).


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Innovation holds a promise of something better than what was there before, simultaneously discrediting old practices as being poor. However, this kind of innovation hype is particularly problematic in relation to education, as it tends to ignore the unpredictable social nature of what takes place in schools, be it student learning, or staff efforts in academic, pastoral care, or administrative work. Take teachers’ practices as an example. In reality, their tasks involve a mix of routine and creativity; careful planning and thinking on your feet; tried and tested methods and experimenting with new ones, which sometimes work and sometimes do not. Anybody who has worked as a teacher knows that much of teaching can be repetitive drudgery, as with the learning of certain crucial skills and content, be it irregular verbs in second language, tables in maths or learning to swim, require considerable repetitive efforts from the learner to master. However, an experienced teacher also knows that teaching certain content and skills lend themselves to exploration, creativity, problem solving and Eureka-moments. In relation to administrative and pastoral care work in schools, the term innovation tends to be an even worse fit, as both should safeguard and ensure the long term the well-being of all students. Quick fix administrative innovations can, at worst, be risky for students, as they may destabilise the day to day work taking place. The important thing here is to acknowledge this multifaceted and complex nature of work taking place in schools, and the fact that not all ‘old, or tried and tested’ practice is automatically poor. In line with the argument of Russell and Vinsels (2016), we suggest that instead of focusing on innovations, we should pay more attention to the maintenance of these complex systems and equip practitioners with the skills to improve the system ‘from within’. That said, we acknowledge the importance of professional learning, creativity, and the continuous development of new ways of working in schools. We also consider it a high priority to offer school staff opportunities to enhance their practices, learn, explore and try out new ways of working. This is why, instead of blind belief in the power of innovations offering quick fix solutions for education, we call out for more sustainable long-term developments in which teachers and other school staff have the capacity to be creative in their ways of working. This means that we should focus on creating the organisational conditions in which a skilful workforce is able to use professional judgement in the complex social and pedagogical situations they face. It also means that practitioners must by supported by their schools and communities to do so, not least through appropriate professional development opportunities. Finally, the third tension in the autonomous school reforms is the idea that local autonomy, especially teacher autonomy and high stakes accountability, can coexist. Put simply, it is, we suggest, intellectually dishonest to claim that individuals that are subject to high stakes accountability and control in their work environment are also autonomous in relation to their practice.

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5.7 Conclusion Despite the worrying trends that have emerged from the recent reforms in England, greater autonomy for schools still makes sense, particularly if it provides space for practitioners to innovate. The problem is that other policies based on competition between schools have sometimes prevented this from happening. Rather, they have led to a search for one-size-fits-all strategies for improving examination and test scores that can be imposed on teachers. We therefore recommend three actions that are needed in order to make school autonomy more effective in promoting equity within the English education system: i.

There needs to be a fundamental rethink of national accountability systems, not least the ways in which student progress and the outcomes of school inspections are reported, so that there is a focus on progress towards a much broader range of outcomes. ii. More resources should be aimed at the improvement of teaching and learning through continuous professional development. This is a recognition that welleducated staff, who are encouraged to upskill their knowledge, are in the best position to respond to the varied needs of their students. iii. Incentives need to be provided that encourage greater collaboration within schools and between schools, in order that successful practices are made available to more students. This emphasis on collaboration then needs to move beyond the school gate, with schools drawing on the energy and resources that exist within families and local communities. Given the dangers associated with school isolation, there also has to be some form of local coordination. Unfortunately, in many areas of England no one organization has the overall picture that would enable them to orchestrate more collaborative ways of working. With this in mind, we argue that local authorities should be involved in monitoring and challenging schools—including academies—whilst head teachers and their colleagues share responsibility for the overall leadership of improvement efforts. In this respect, it is encouraging to see the recent emergence in England of new forms of area partnership arrangements (Gilbert, 2018). All of this has significant implications for national policy makers. It suggests that, in order to make use of the potential of autonomy and minimise the risks involved, they need to foster greater flexibility at the local level in order that practitioners have the space to analyze their particular circumstances and determine priorities accordingly. This means that policy makers must recognize that the details of policy implementation are not amenable to central regulation. Rather, these should be dealt with by those who are close to and, therefore, in a better position to understand local contexts: teachers and principals (Ainscow & West, 2006). There is a crucial role here for governments. They must provide a strong sense of direction regarding the principles that are intended to steer locally led developments. Linked to this, there is a need to ensure that national accountability systems reflect these principles. This involves a recognition that, within education systems,


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‘what gets measured gets done’ (Ainscow, 2005). So, for example, the education systems mentioned in this chapter now collect far more statistical data on schools than ever before in order to determine their effectiveness. This trend to measure learning through test scores is widely recognized as a double-edged sword precisely because it is such a potent lever for change. On the one hand, data are required in order to monitor the progress of learners, evaluate the teaching and learning, review policies and processes, plan new initiatives, and so on. In these senses, data can, justifiably, be seen as the life-blood of educational decision-making. On the other hand, if effectiveness is evaluated on the basis of narrow, even inappropriate, performance indicators, then the impact can be deeply damaging. While appearing to promote accountability and transparency, the use of data can, in practice: conceal more than it reveals; invite misinterpretations; and, worst of all, have a perverse effect on the behaviour of professionals to teach to the test, such that their efforts to include vulnerable children are not valued and recognized by schools and policy makers. The challenge, therefore, is to focus on a broader range of data, where progress is determined not just in terms of scores on learning outcomes, but where information on progress regarding equity is incorporated into the analyses. This means that care needs to be exercised in deciding what evidence is collected and, indeed, how it is analysed and used. In other words, we need to measure what we value, rather than is so often the case, valuing what we can measure.

References Ainscow, M. (2005). Developing inclusive education systems: what are the levers for change? Journal of Educational Change, 6(2), 109–124. Ainscow, M. (2015). Towards self-improving school systems: Lessons from a city challenge. London: Routledge. Ainscow, M., Crow, M., Dyson, A., Goldrick, S., Kerr, K., Lennie, C., et al. (2007). Equity in education: New directions: The second annual report of the Centre for Equity in Education, University of Manchester. Manchester: Centre for Equity. in Education. Ainscow, M., &West, M. (eds) (2006) Improvement urban schools: Leadership and collaboration. Open University Press. Ball, S. J. (2003). Class strategies and the education market. London: Routledge. Bunar, N. (2010). Choosing for quality or inequality—current perspectives on the implementation of school choice policy in Sweden. Journal of Education Policy, 25(1), 1–18. Carrasco, A., Falabella, A., & Mendoza. (2015). School choice in Chile as a soociocultural practice. In P. Seppänen, A. Carrasco, M. Kalalahti, R. Rinne, & H. Simola (Eds.), Contrasting dynamics in education politics of extremes. School choice in Finland and Chile (pp. 245–266). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Claeys, A., Kempton, J., & Paterson, C. (2014). Regional challenges: A collaborative approach to improving education. London: CentreForum. Courtney, S. (2015). Corporatised leadership in English schools. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 47(3), 214–231. DfE. (2016). Schools Revenue Funding 2016 to 2017 Operational Guide Version 2. Available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications.

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DfEE. (2001). Schools: building on success: raising standards, promoting diversity, achieving results. Government Green Paper. Available at http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/doc ument/cm50/5050/5050.pdf. Eyles, A., & Machin, S. (2015). Academy schools and their introduction to english education. London: Centre for Education Economics. Gilbert, C. (2018). Optimism of the will: The development of local area-based education partnerships. A think-piece. London: UCL Institute of Education. Greaves, E., Macmillan, L., & Sibieta, L. (2014). Lessons from London schools for attainment gaps and social mobility. London: The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. Haeffele-Balch, S., & Boettke, P. (2016) Disrupt the Education Industry: Charter Schools and private schools can do for education what Uber is doing for transportation. US News, 01/11/2016. Available from: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/articles/2016-01-11/the-edu cation-industry-needs-to-be-disrupted-by-an-uber, Hodgson, N. (2012). The only answer is innovation…’ Europe, policy and the big society. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 46(4), 537–545. House of Commons Education Committee, (2015). Academies and Free Schools: Fourth Report of Session 2014. Husbands, C., Gilbert, C., Francis, B., & Wigdortz, B. (2013). Unleashing greatness: Getting the best from an academised system. The Report of the Academies Commission. London: RSA/Pearson. Hutchings, M., Hollingworth, S., Mansaray, A., Rose, R., & Greenwood, C. (2012). Research report DFE-RR215: Evaluation of the City Challenge programme. London: Department for Education. Jacobs, J. (2015). Disrupting the education monopoly: A conversations with reed Hastings, Education Next, 15(1). Available from: http://educationnext.org/disrupting-the-education-monopolyreed-hastings-interview/. Kahlenberg, R. D., & Potter, H. (2014). A smarter charter: Finding what works for charter schools and public education. New York: Teachers College Press. Kauko, J., & Salokangas, M. (2015). The evaluation and steering of English academy schools through inspection and examinations: National visions and local practices. British Educational Research Journal, 41(6), 1108–1124. Kerr, K., & Ainscow, M. (2017). Equity in education: Time to stop and think. A report on the state of equity in the English education system. Manchester: The University of Manchester. Kosunen, S. (2014). Reputation and parental logics of action in local school choice space in Finland. Journal of Education Policy, 29(4), 443–466. Kulz, C. (2015). Heroic heads, mobility mythologies and the power of ambiguity. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 1–20. Ladd, H. F. & Fiske, E. B. (2016). England Confronts the Limits of School Autonomy. Working Paper 232: National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University. Mansell, W. (2016). Academies: autonomy, accountability, quality and evidence. York: Cambridge Primary Review Trust. Meyland-Smith, D., & Evans, N. (2009). A guide to school choice reforms. London: Policy Exchange. Russell, A., & Vinsel, L. (2016). Hail the maintainers, AEON. Published 07/04/2016. Available from: https://aeon.co/essays/innovation-is-overvalued-maintenance-often-matters-more. Salokangas, M., & Ainscow, M. (2017). Inside the autonomous school: Making sense of a global educational trend. London: Routledge. Salokangas, M., & Chapman, C. (2014). Exploring governance in two chains of academy schools: A comparative case study. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 42(3), 372–386. Stevenson, H. (2016). Challenging school reform from below: Is leadership the missing link in mobilization theory? Leadership and Policy in Schools, 15(1), 67–90. Swanson, E. (2017). Can we have it all? A review of the impacts of school choice on racial integration. Journal of School Choice, 11(4), 507–526.


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van Zanten, A. (2009). Competitive arenas and schools’ logics of action: a European comparison. Compare: A journal of comparative and international education 39(1), 85–98. Waslander, S. Pater, C., & van der Weide, M., (2010). Markets in education: An analytical review of empirical research on market mechanisms in education. OECD Education working papers, 52. West, A., & Bailey, W. (2013). The development of the academies programme: ‘privatising’ schoolbased education in England 1986-2013. British Journal of Educational Studies, 61(2), 137–159. Wiborg, S. (2010). Learning lessons from the Swedish model. Forum, 52(2), 279–284.

Mel Ainscow is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Manchester and Professor of Education at the University of Glasgow. He is internationally recognized as an authority on the promotion of inclusion and equity in education. A long-term consultant to UNESCO, Mel is currently working on efforts to promote equity and inclusion globally. He has recently completed collaborative research projects with networks of schools in Australia, Austria, Denmark, England, Portugal and Spain. Examples of his writing can be found in:‘Struggles for equity in education: The selected works of Mel Ainscow’ (Routledge World Library of Educationalists series, 2015). Maija Salokangas is Associate Professor at Maynooth University, Ireland. Maija’s research focusses on the interplay between education policy and practice, leadership, and governance in education. She’s currently working on a comparative research project investigating teacher autonomy in Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Germany. Her recent book (2017) Inside the autonomous school: Making sense of a global educational trend (with Mel Ainscow) critiques the global school autonomy movement.

Chapter 6

Chile: Changing the Teaching Profession, the Most Challenging Reform José Weinstein, Gonzalo Muñoz, and Carlos Eugenio Beca

In Chile, following the return of democracy in 1990 and over more than two decades, subsequent government administrations made efforts to improve the quality and equity of education by proposing various education policies, although without modifying the existing structure of state-run and private education provision nor its financing system (subsidizing demand). Thus, primary and secondary curriculums were modified; time dedicated to instruction was extended (from a school work day running for half a day to one running for a full day), which translated into a huge investment in educational infrastructure and hours of instruction); resources were multiplied, both in and out of classroom (textbooks, computers, etc.); nationwide education improvement programs were implemented along with specific subsidies for education institutions catering to students from low socio-economic backgrounds; school meals and scholarships were bolstered; the right to 12 years of free and compulsory education was set forth in the Constitution; and a quality assurance system was put in place including several evaluations to assess student learning outcomes (Weinstein & Muñoz, 2009). The extent of this “country-wide effort” can be measured in terms of the allocated budget: fiscal resources assigned to the education sector increased tenfold between 1990 and 2015, becoming the sector with the largest public expenditure. These education policies achieved remarkable results in terms of student access and retention in the system. In fact, except for early childhood education, Chile reached the average level of OECD countries. The same did not hold true for students’ learning achievement. Being a far-reaching issue, learning outcomes J. Weinstein (B) · G. Muñoz · C. E. Beca Center for School Leadership Development (CEDLE), Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile e-mail: [email protected] C. E. Beca Diego Portales University, Santiago, Chile © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_6



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partially improved, placing the Chilean education system among the best in Latin America (Rivas, 2015). However, they still lag significantly, particularly among lower income sectors. Accordingly, a recent report has shown that Chilean student’s performance, compared to other OECD countries, is below the equivalent of one year in language and two years in mathematics (OECD, 2017). This situation drove the center-left government of President Michelle Bachelet (2014–2018) to propose a reform focused on classroom instruction, along with other changes to reduce the mercantilization of the education system and reform the institutional framework of state-run education (Bellei, 2015). Thus, a new teacher professional development system was proposed with the aim of significantly improving the quality of instruction. This does not mean initiatives targeting this strategic group had never been proposed before. In fact, former administrations had promoted different schemes focused on strengthening the teaching profession and teachers. For example: extensive disciplinary training was promoted; minimum wage for the teaching profession was progressively increased; collective incentives for teachers working in institutions with the best learning outcomes were created; individual incentives for highquality teachers or those working in particularly difficult contexts (rural areas, urban poverty) were set up; a regular professional performance assessment system was implemented; scholarships for outstanding students who decided to train as teachers were made available; even scholarships and grants for teachers to train abroad were offered (Avalos, 2011; Avalos, Cavada, Pardo, & Sotomayor, 2010; Nuñez Prieto, 2017). Nonetheless, all these measures tended to fall short of their target (many measures could not reach teachers working in state-run or private-subsidized institutions) or only managed to partially tackle the issues (wages, working conditions, and initial or in-service training). Consequently, the teaching reform proposed by President Bachelet is considered to be the first policy to systematically address the so called “teaching issue”. The next section will describe the characteristics of this reform, followed by a description of the political challenges it faced for its processing and final approval before being made into a law, concluding with a discussion of the lessons learned from this experience in terms of systemic education changes.

6.1 A Systemic Reform for Classroom Instruction We can group the changes involved in the new teacher professional development system into three core domains: the measures’ “scope” (or coverage), the new professional career structure, and the transformation to the proposed teacher training (initial, continuous and in-service training).

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6.1.1 A Common (and Improved) Statute for All Classroom Teachers Before the reform, the existing regulation in Chile for educators dated back to 1991, year the Teachers’ Statute was introduced. This legal regulation had a profound practical and symbolic impact: labor rights for teachers were reinstated (such as a “minimum wage for teachers” that was different and superior to the minimum wage in place for the rest of workers in the country), which had been abolished during Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship (1973–1989) (Verdejo, 2013). However, the Teachers’ Statute determined dissimilar conditions for different educators, depending on the level they were teaching or the institution they were working for (state-run or private-subsidized). In fact, early years educators, catering to this strategic preschool level, were not included in the Teachers’ Statute. As a result, these educators have had a very different employment situation from those working in primary and secondary levels. They do not benefit from the same minimum wage as other teachers, nor do they get access to specific allocated benefits (such as further training, aid for work in challenging settings, experience, etc.). Furthermore, the situation of these educators varies significantly if they work for the number of institutions in charge of pre-school education in Chile (which in Chile can be run by the district, by the National Board of Preschool Institutions (JUNJI), or the INTEGRA Foundation), which attain to different employment arrangements. As a result, there’s a notorious wage gap between these educators and the rest of the teaching professionals, which amounts to, at least, 20% less (El Mercurio, 2015). The detrimental situation of early years educators negatively impacts the reputation of this profession, resulting in less students opting for this career path among the new generations. Teachers from the private subsidized sector, as per the 1991 Teachers’ Statute, are also subject to different working conditions from those who work in state-run schools. Thus, they don’t have access to some allocated benefits (experience and further training) and have not always reached the wage benefits obtained by the teacher’s union after successive negotiations. It is important to point out that Chile, in this respect, has a peculiar school enrollment distribution: most of the school population (58%) attends private institutions (religious or secular) that receive public financing.1 As a result, since conditions are not equal to those in the public sector, over half of educators make do with unfavorable salary conditions, which vary greatly (depending on the specific employer-teacher negotiation carried out in each private-subsidized institution) (Bellei, 2015; Elacqua, Martinez, Santos, & Urbina, 2016). The new teacher professional development system aims to overcome these unequal and unfavorable conditions and move towards a common regime for all educators, 1 Another

educational reform from President Bachelet’s administration consisted in regulating, via the “Inclusion Law”, the conditions under which private-subsidized institutions operate to level the field with respect to state-run institutions. Thus, this law prohibits private institutions from having lucrative purposes, charging fees to families, or using student selection processes (Muñoz & Weinstein, Forthcoming).


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from early years up to secondary education, who are part of the system that receives public funding. With this goal in mind, the law proposes a progressive move, during a decade (2016–2026), of: first, integrating in the new system educators from state-run institutions, followed by educators from the private-subsidized sector, and then early years educators. This necessarily slow progression is due, partly, to the fact that to be qualified for the new teaching career, teachers must have previously been assessed by the national assessment system, a requirement that has only been in place since 2004 onwards for primary and secondary school teachers from state-run institutions (Taut et al. 2016). Among the work conditions that teachers can enjoy with the new system, a higher salary stands out, reaching a 30% increase in average with respect to the current situation. The initial salary should be equivalent to the starting salary perceived by other professionals with the same level of education (psychologists, architects, etc.). Similarly, another salient feature is the significantly higher non-teaching hours allocated to the working day of educators, from 25% of non-teaching hours to 35%, and even reaching 40% for the first cycle of the more vulnerable primary schools. Teachers can use this additional non-teaching hours for individual or collective work done for the school.

6.1.2 A Professional Career Driven by Merit and Motivation Educators, even those who have been under the Teachers’ Statute, have not had a proper professional career. Their employment situation consists of a basic salary that varies depending on the regular working hours set on the employment contract, which increases mainly with work experience (based on cumulative two-year periods on the job) and secondly with certain allocated benefits (such as, further training, challenging work setting, responsibility undertaken or work in remote areas) (Nuñez Prieto, 2017; OREAL/UNESCO, 2015). Educators may also enjoy temporary benefits from some additional incentives, including the teaching excellence grant (Mizala & Schneider, 2014). However, the system does not have an organized career path that identifies distinct stages in the teacher’s professional career. The new teacher professional development system focuses on correcting this lack of structure. To this end, three stages have been identified (“beginner”, “intermediate”, and “advanced”) which all educators must go through. During the first stage, the teacher is supposed to be in the initial stages of his or her professional development and, as such, has certain competences not fully developed. During the second stage, the teacher is expected to have reached basic skills, including disciplinary and pedagogical knowledge, to adequately fulfill the role. During the last stage, the teacher should be proficient and have a consolidated mastery of his or her professional skills and subject knowledge. The system’s organization determines a specific amount of time the educator can remain in any of these stages and does not allow a “delayed graduation” from the first stage, because that might involve the teacher is not adequately teaching his or her students. Before moving from one stage to the

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next, an external assessment procedure examines and ranks the level of subject and pedagogical knowledge of the teacher.2 The system also includes two additional stages that the teacher can choose to complete: expert one and expert two. A teacher that has completed these advanced stages has a professional development above average and can offer technical support to colleagues, from the same or other schools, who need it (for example, those who are in the initial stages of the profession). In this sense, these categories have been portrayed in the Law as a sort of “horizontal career path”, where educators do not necessarily need to opt for managerial positions to progress in their profession (OREAL/UNESCO, 2015). Teacher’s salaries vary according to the stage in which they currently are within the system. The income variation between a teacher in the initial stages and one in a more advanced stage (expert 2) is substantial, reaching 154% difference, or even 191% difference if working in a highly vulnerable institution. In fact, another element addressed in the new system is the inclusion of a social justice criterion: an additional allowance is allocated to teachers who work in institutions catering to vulnerable pupils. This intends to provide an incentive for qualified teachers to work in such institutions, which as evidenced in Chile (Cox, 2016; Cox, Beca, & Cerri, 2017), struggle to attract and retain them.

6.1.3 A More Regulated Training in Terms of Quality and Adequacy Over the last decades, undergraduate training in Chile has been a privileged space for higher education market forces to dictate the game, giving rise to numerous low quality tertiary education providers imposing very low entry requirements. This supply has mainly welcomed a new (and massive) generation of young people who are the first in their family to reach this level of education. Teacher training has been particularly affected by this explosive phenomenon: for example, enrollment in teacher training programs increased 2.6 times between 2000 and 2008 (while overall higher education doubled). This mass enrollment was due to a combination of lower entry requirements and new credit and bursaries offered to a generation of secondary school graduates that had internalized the cultural value and social status, as well as the high financial return, that higher education concedes. As a matter of fact, looking at the details, 84.6% of primary education undergraduate students in 2008 studied in education institutions with low or no entry requirements (Cox, Meckes, & Bascopé, 2010).

2 This new procedure borrows from the experience and instruments that have been applied for over a

decade in the teacher assessment process. This assessment includes an evidence portfolio presented by the teacher (including a video of a class), a self-evaluation, a peer evaluation, and the principal’s evaluation (Taut et al., 2016).


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Several government administrations tried to offer incentives to convince outstanding students to become teachers. For example, the scholarship “Teacher vocation” (2011) offered to academically outstanding students, who chose to become teachers, complete funding of all university fees and included additional benefits such as an all-purpose allowance and the chance to study abroad for a semester. However, the bigger picture of students with low academic performance did not change much after that initiative (Hoschild, Diaz, Walker, Schiappacasse, & Medeiros, 2017). The new teacher professional development system promoted by Bachelet’s administration decided to take more radical actions: the new law postulates that entry requirements for undergraduate teacher training courses require applicants to have an average to high score in the university entrance exam or for them to be among the group with top academic results in their class, consistent with their accumulated grade point average in secondary school.3 The new entry requirements have been gradually introduced and should be in full force by 2023, which would mean accepting only applicants from the top 30% of their respective class. An equally strong measure in the new teacher professional development system can be evidenced in other areas negatively impacted by the lack of public regulation: the quality and adequacy of undergraduate programs that most universities have offered to students. Along these lines, many government initiatives have been proposed in the recent past to nudge universities to self-regulate in terms of the programs offered to students. As such, there have been many (in abundance!) funds to support projects for modernizing teacher training faculties. It has also been over a decade since teacher training programs strive for accreditation, and an evaluation has been designed (INICIA) to assess pedagogical and subject knowledge when students graduate from university (Ávalos et al., 2010). However, as these initiatives did not have a prescriptive character4 for education faculties, many of them (particularly those with lower entry requirements) did not alter their curriculum or the quality of their instruction (Cox, Meckes & Bascopé, 2010). The new professional development system binds education faculties to abide by a strict quality assurance procedure. To that end, all universities and teacher training programs must be accredited to function. In addition, subject knowledge and pedagogical standards will be defined centrally by the Ministry of Education,5 and must be accepted and followed by all universities that offer teacher preparation programs. These standards must be completely mastered by undergraduate students, while a 3A

material effect of this measure is that universities which have offered teacher training courses with no or low entry requirements must cancel such programs (or modify them). 4 Or if it was prescriptive, it did not necessarily imply a consequence that would decisively force the faculty to improve any flaws or shortcomings. For example: teacher training programs’ accreditation has been defined by law as obligatory, but programs who do not receive accreditation can still function and accept new applicants. 5 In the Chilean institutional system, these major decisions (such as changes to the national curriculum or the enforcement of standards for education quality) are proposed by the Ministry of Education to an independent body composed of experts and education actors: The National Education Council (Weinstein & Muñoz, 2009). This is the procedure to be followed by the new standards for undergraduate teacher training.

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centralized evaluation, which is compulsory to all undergraduates a year before graduating, has been designed for this end. Universities are responsible for closing any eventual gaps, through remedial programs or extra courses, among their students in terms of the standards defined. Also, universities must do an assessment of students who start a teacher training program to identify weak areas and provide adequate assistance. Lastly, the new Law is also involved in life-long training and professional development of educators. In this sense, the first effort was driven towards breaching a gap: the nonexistence of an induction and mentoring system for novice teachers (Avalos, 2011; Sotomayor & Walker, 2009). Hence, from now on, novice teachers will be able to count on professional support to be listened to, given advice and offered assistance to during the first year of their professional career, which is always tough. Implementing this aid means training mentors, i.e., successful and experienced classroom teachers who are capable of offering this individualized support. As to teachers who are already working, several free training programs will be available to them, guaranteed as “quality training” by the Ministry of Education. This mechanism is in place so teachers can actually exercise their right to continuous improvement, which was under threat due to the limited scope of the free public training on offer. The Table below summarizes the main contents of the Law that guides the teacher professional development system in Chile: Main contents of the law guiding the teacher professional development system • Significant increase in teacher’s remuneration, particularly at the start of their professional career • Significant increase of non−teaching hours, for teacher’s individual or collective work • Definition of a professional career path including five stages (three of them compulsory and two voluntary) linked to the certification of competences and skills • Special financial incentives on offer for teachers on the later stages of their professional career to work in socially, educationally and financially vulnerable schools • Stricter academic requirements for admission to undergraduate teacher training programs • Obligatory requirement for both teacher training programs and the university that offers them to have accreditation before accepting any applicants. • Stipulation of disciplinary and pedagogical standards that all undergraduate teaching programs must follow • National achievement assessment, based on standards, a year before undergraduate students complete their academic degree, where universities are responsible for devising remedial plans in case of any possible gaps • Inclusion of an induction process based on individual mentorships for novice teachers during their first year on the job • Access right recognized for all educators to continuous free quality training • One system to cater to educators of all levels (preschool, primary and secondary), as well as for those working in state−run or private−subsidized schools


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6.2 A Brief yet Difficult Political Procedure Considering the significance of the benefits offered to educators, and the slow maturation process of the new professional career, as well as the scale of the fiscal resources allocated (the new teacher professional development system will be equivalent to around one point of Chile’s GDP),6 we could have expected the law would reach a rapid consensus and overall approval. However, this was not the case. It is important to go back in time to better understand why this happened. The importance of having a professional career for classroom teachers had already been voiced by the teacher’s union at the start of the decade in 2000. They insisted that the 1991 Teachers’ Statute did not embody a proper professional career, and that without one, the different measures created to professionalize the educator’s job were curtailed, in their opinion. For instance, the implementation of the teachers’ performance evaluation, which was mentioned previously, was considered by the union as partial and incomplete as it was not anchored on a career and thus did not discern the various levels of requirements among teachers evaluated or linked the results obtained by the educators and their future professional development (Taut et al., 2016). As an answer to this demand, and by the Government’s own conviction on the need to update the old Teachers’ Statute, during 2008 and 2009, in President Michelle Bachelet’s first term (2006-2001), a committee composed of representatives from both the Ministry of Education and the Teacher’s Association worked on developing a proposal for a teaching career.7 However, this proposal did not manage to get drafted into a bill or go through a legislative process. This matter was not addressed during the center-right administration of President Sebastián Piñera (2010–2014). Therefore, it was not unexpected for this issue to be resumed and considered a priority during the second term of President Bachelet (2014–2018). But the Government and teacher’s union were not the only ones that were focused on moving forward on this matter. A group of people and organizations from civil society (university professors, union leaders, representatives from foundations and NGOs, etc.) set up at the beginning of 2014 a forum to discuss and agree on a proposal for a professional teaching career. This forum was aptly named “Plan Maestro” (Master Plan) [a play on words evoking the two senses of the word “maestro”—teacher and master] and became an important pre-legislative instance. The content of this proposal in view of a new professional career, as well as concerning teacher training, was greatly valued and used for the draft bill brought forth by the Government (Hochschild et al., 2014). At the same time, the Ministry of Education organized participatory instances in education institutions to discuss the future professional teaching career, where more than 20 thousand educators took part. The

6 The

cost for the new career is estimated at USD 2.3 millions. proposal, published by the Ministry in 2009, already included several of the core ideas that were later embodied in the new system, for example, the distinction of five stages of professional development—two of them voluntary.

7 This

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Teacher’s Association, meanwhile, carried a discussion and consultation process on this matter. In this context, and considering all this background information, the Government submitted a draft bill to Parliament to create the long-awaited new teacher professional development system. However, and contrary to expectations, educators mobilized against this project. More precisely, the teacher’s union started an indefinite nationwide strike with the aim of modifying the bill. The strike was backed up by teachers, particularly those working in state-funded schools, so it spreaded and generated an unruly situation in the education sector. The union’s opposition was headed by the leftist dissidents to the national leaders in office and argued that the Government proposal included measures that infringed upon the professionalism of educators (such as the need to “certify competences” before being able to move to the next professional stage, having to pass a “qualifying exam” before practicing as a teacher, or not considering collaborative work in evaluations). The educator’s opposition movement was further backed by politicians, including several members of Parliament, most of them from the ruling coalition, that adopted the criticism of the union as their own. Given the difficult situation created by the lengthy strike, and due to the Parliament “blocking” when the original bill drafting process was halted, the Government gave in and created an instance to negotiate and discuss with the union, members of Parliament, and the Government, the objections brought forward. The Government relaxed its stance, but without abandoning the core ideas for the new professional career. Thus, new proposals were presented concerning the matters disputed by the union, such as the number of assessments, the exclusion of the concept “competence certification” proposed in the original bill, and the increase of non-teaching hours and the right to free training for teachers. Finally, an agreement protocol was signed by the three parties involved (members of Parliament, union representatives and the Government) detailing the changes to be made to the draft bill. As a result, state-run schools resumed their normal activities, which had stopped for 52 days during the strike. The bill that gave way to the new teacher professional development system was finally processed, with a solid and cross-cutting political support, just before a year had passed since the Government had presented it to Parliament. At the same time, the teacher’s union faction leading the opposition to the new education career obtained the majority of votes in the elections for the Teachers’ Association, which took place shortly after the Law was enacted.


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6.3 Lessons Learned from the Reform Process While promising advances have occurred in terms of applications to undergraduate teaching programs,8 it is still too early to judge the results of the enforcement of the new law. As mentioned before, the various processes involved in this law will be implemented by 2026, due to their complexity and scope. Many of them will be gradually materialized. However, we can still reflect on some lessons from the development and processing of the reform. The first lesson revolves around the need to progressively collect evidence to mobilize decision makers towards the desired reform. In terms of this transformation, a report from a technical mission from OECD including a review of the education system in Chile, published in 2004, had already voiced concerns about deficiencies in initial and in-service teacher training (OECD, 2017). Later on, other instances, such as two experts and personalities’ committees organized by the Ministry of Education, identified this matter again as a weakness (Cox, Meckes, & Bascopé, 2010; MINEDUC, 2005). The same was evidenced later when, from 2008, very poor results from the INICIA evaluation were made public, showing how teaching graduates only dominated, in average, half of the knowledge they were supposed to teach to their students (Taut et al., 2016). Finally, the Master Plan, with its array (and variety) of participating institutions, corroborated this negative appraisal and its impact on the quality of education. For decision makers (i.e. the Government and Parliament), it became of utmost importance to legislate on teacher preparation provision and, more broadly, on the teaching career, driving a generalized conviction of several education actors (academic and non-academic) based on irrefutable evidence gathered for over a decade. Thus, the challenge of a reform and its promotors is not only to present evidence to support the need for change, but also to find efficient mechanisms to divulge it so it reaches those who influence, directly or indirectly, its materialization. The second lesson is related to the need to find systematic solutions to complex education issues. As mentioned before, the experience of Chile has shown that that there were several silver bullets that tried to account for, in a partial or isolated way, the “teaching issue”. For example, we can point to the creation of multiple and successive incentives that rewarded teachers’ performance, such as the Teacher Excellence Grant (Asignación de Excelencia Pedagógica, AEP), but that didn’t manage to change the general retention of outstanding educators to continue a professional career in education. The same is true about the hope of attracting good candidates to study undergraduate teaching programs by offering scholarships, such as the “Teacher Vocation” scholarship, which did not manage to influence greatly the profile of existing applicants. This is not to say these initiatives were not valuable or innovative 8 For

the 2018 admission process, considering the new norm that limits admission to education programs to applicants with high academic performance has been in force for its second year in a row, the numbers indicate a notable change compared to the previous year. There is a 20% increase of applicants to education programs; a 20% increase in applicants admitted; an 1812 increase of applicants who chose education as their first option; and an 18% increase in admitted applicants who belonged to the top 30% of students with best scores of that year.

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by themselves: the AEP grant awarded no less than an additional salary to the educator for 10 years, and the scholarship covered all university’s fees and gave additional benefits to the student. However, none of these incentives managed to reach a broader group and, by the end, its outreach was even lower than the one expected by its promotors. Because of its complexity and diversity of actors involved, the challenge of modifying the teaching profession demands a systemic approach that does not divide the different dimensions involved (initial training, in-service training, work conditions and professional career) but that, on the contrary, works to boost the synergies between them. A third lesson comes from an issue pertaining to the Chilean education context: the difficulty in regulating actors and processes that depend on market forces when these have already been settled in a large scale in the education system. As to the teaching profession, this difficulty can be evidenced in at least two instances generated over the last decade. On one side, the de-regulation of higher education, in general, and of undergraduate teaching programs, in particular, led to a massive offer of poor quality education programs. Many education faculties accepted thousands of students without setting high entry academic requirements, in a system where the State promoted support to higher education studies without sufficiently regulating quality or adequacy. On the other side, private-subsidized education became the main provider of education in the country, at the cost of state-funded education, increasingly covering the middle-class student population. As a result, practically half of teachers began working in these schools with no Statute to protect them and promote them as their counterparts working in state-funded schools. The regulation of both realities, provided under the new law, will not be easy: inadequate quality education programs will have to drastically improve their results or close their doors, while those responsible for private-subsidized schools will have to change their employment arrangements. However, a significant part of the damage is already done after incorporating over decades thousands of insufficiently prepared educators into the education system, or by hiring teachers under very unfavorable employment conditions. Consequently, the challenge is to evaluate and regulate in a timely manner the involvement of the private sector in education, to ensure it complies with quality standards of the services offered, before it escalates and compromises the quality of the system overall. A fourth lesson learned refers to the importance of an effective communication, dialogue and negotiation with the education stakeholders who embody these reforms, especially those who have difficulty with governance and representation. In the case under study, all the negotiation process with the teacher’s union developed conditioned by an internal situation that was decisive: the prompt internal election process that needed to settle the hotly disputed leadership between those in office and the opposition that wanted to replace them (as it eventually happened). In this competition, none of the groups wanted to “pay the political cost” of reaching an agreement with the Government and accepting the limitations or restrictions involved in every negotiation. The massive and prolonged strike headed by the teacher’s union, supported by the opposition to the union leaders, stood as a very powerful political tool, not only used to modify some components of the draft bill but also to settle


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the internal dispute. Moreover, in this setting of eruptions and divisions, the Government had serious difficulties when trying to properly inform teachers about the real scope of the new teacher professional career proposal, including benefits involved, as presented by Parliament. The challenge to boost reforms that require active participation of the important education stakeholders, such as teachers, is to develop political and communicational strategies that can help reach a broad consensus concerning the present change, as well as searching for the right methods and timely moments to reach an agreement with union representatives. Lastly, an ongoing learning opportunity points to the importance of having not only a gradual but also a flexible implementation of large education reforms, as well as having an “early warning” system when faced with emerging difficulties. The law that stipulated the introduction of a new teacher professional development system described a gradual implementation of the different measures considered (e.g. deferred entry into the system of different educators’ groups, or a progressive tightening of entry requirements to teaching programs). This gradual implementation is important not only because of financial reasons, but also because it allows the building of the required institutional capacities and mastery of the new operating procedures by all stakeholders. However, the new law did not stipulate mechanisms that would allow a flexible implementation of the several measures presented. As a result, when faced with any problem, the Government will have to go back to Parliament to process a new amendment to the reform. These emerging difficulties are very likely in highly complex processes such as the ones currently being implemented. For example, in this new system, there is a risky dependence on the synchronicity of two processes: the regulation in entry to teaching programs and the application by highly qualified candidates to these programs. The logic behind is that, given the unparalleled work conditions that teaching will have, thousands of young candidates, who are talented and have good academic performance, will be driven to study Teaching. As a result, the profile of teacher training applicants that has prevailed for decades in the country should change in less than five years. If this does not occur, a big problem ensues: there will not be enough teachers to cover the replacement needs of the school system. The challenge of highly complex systemic reform implementation processes is for actors to have enough time and resources as well as the opportunity to modify the different ongoing processes, where the existence of early warning systems would be tremendously useful.

References Avalos, B. (2011). Teacher professional development in teaching and teacher education over ten years. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(1), 10–20. Avalos, B., & Bellei, C. (Forthcoming). Is Chilean education departing from market-oriented and new public management systems? In C. Ornelas (Ed.) Educational reforms in Latin America. Ávalos, B., Cavada, P., Pardo, M., & Sotomayor, C. (2010). La profesión docente: temas y discusiones en la literatura internacional. Estudios pedagógicos (Valdivia), 36(1), 235–263.

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Bellei, C. (2015). El gran experimento: Mercado y privatización de la educación chilena. LOM ediciones. Cox, C. (2016). Teacher education in Chile: Trends in social and policy pressures for change and evolution of its organisational and knowledge bases. In Do universities have a role in the education and training of teachers? An international analysis of policy and practice (pp. 187–212). Cox, C., Meckes, L., & y Bascopé, M. (2010). La institucionalidad formadora de profesores en Chile en la década del 2000: velocidad del mercado y parsimonia de las políticas. Pensamiento Educativo. Revista Investigación Educacional Latinoamericana, 46(1), 205–245. Cox, C., Beca, C. E., & Cerri, M. (2017). The teaching profession in Latin America: Change policies and the challenges of poverty and exclusion. In Second international handbook of urban education (pp. 627–645). Cham: Springer. Elacqua, G., Martínez, M., Santos, H., & Urbina, D. (2016). Short-run effects of accountability pressures on teacher policies and practices in the voucher system in Santiago, Chile. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 27(3), 385–405. Elacqua, G., Hincapie, D., Vegas, E., Alfonso, M., Montalva, V., & Paredes, D. (2017). Profesión: Profesor en América Latina¿ Por qué se perdió el prestigio docente y cómo recuperarlo? Hochschild, H., Díaz, F., Walker, J., Schiappacasse, J., & Medeiros, M. P. (2014). El Plan Maestro, diálogos para la profesión docente. Calidad en la educación, 41, 121–135. MINEDUC. (2005). Comisión Formación Inicial Docente, Santiago. Mizala, A., & Schneider, B. R. (2014). Negotiating education reform: Teacher evaluations and incentives in Chile (1990–2010). Governance, 27(1), 87–109. Muñoz, G., & Weinstein, J. (Fortcoming). The inclusión law: the difficult process of redefining the rules of the game for subsidized private education in Chile. In C. Ornelas (Ed.) Educational reforms in Latin America. Nuñez Prieto, I. (2017). Valoración de la profesión docente en Chile. Contextos: Estudios de Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales (7), 63–69. OECD. (2017). Educación en Chile. Evaluaciones de políticas nacionales de educación. Santiago: OCDE-Fundación SM. OREAL/UNESCO. (2015). Las Carrera docentes en América Latina. La acción meritocrática para el desarrollo professional, Santiago. Rivas, A. (2015). América Latina después de PISA: Lecciones aprendidas de la educación en siete países (2000–2015). Fundación Cippec. Sotomayor, C., & Walker, H. (2009). Formación continua de profesores:¿ cómo desarrollar competencias para el trabajo escolar?: Experiencias, propuestas. Editorial Universitaria. Taut, S., Valencia, E., Palacios, D., Santelices, M. V., Jimenez, D., & Manzi, J. (2016). Teacher performance and student learning: linking evidence from two national assessment programmes. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 23(1), 53–74. Verdejo, M. I. P. (2013). Las políticas escolares de la concertación durante la transición democrática. Ediciones Universidad Diego Portales. Weinstein, J., & Muñoz, G. (2009). Calidad para todos. La reforma educacional en el punto de quiebre. Más acá de los sueños, más allá de lo posible: la concertación en chile.

José Weinstein is Sociologist at the University of Chile with a PhD in Sociology from the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium). He was Chile’s Undersecretary of Education (2000–2003), and Chile’s first Minister of Culture (2003–2006). He has created and directed programs on school improvement and youth development. His experience and expertise have been requested by important international organizations. He has published over 60 articles in books, reviews and journals focusing on education, poverty, youth and culture. He is currently the Director of the Center for Develpment of School Leadership at Diego Portales University, where he is Full Professor. His recent work has focused greatly on school leadership development and capacity improvement of vulnerable schools.


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Gonzalo Muñoz is Sociologist and Master in Sociology at the Catholic University of Chile, Professor of the Faculty of Education and Director of the Master in Leadership and Educational Management Program, at Diego Portales University. He was Head of the General Education Division of the Ministry of Education of Chile, between 2014 and 2016. He previously worked as Director of Studies of the Center for Innovation in Education at Fundación Chile, as Director of Studies of the General Education Division at the Ministry of Education, and as Associate Researcher of Asesorías para el Desarrollo. In October 2012, he was appointed Board Member of the Quality Agency of Education. He has published several books and articles in his work fields: educational policies, school effectiveness and improvement, and educational leadership. Carlos Eugenio Beca is Professor of Philosophy, specialist in educational policies related to the teaching profession. He has developed various activities in the public and academic sector, in the area of education. He was Director of the Center for Teacher Development (CPEIP) of the Ministry of Education of Chile, the body responsible for teacher professional development programs. Currently, he is a member of the Technical Secretariat of the Teaching Regional Strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean of OREALC/UNESCO, located at the Diego Portales University and collaborates in programs of the Center for Educational Leadership Development (CEDLE). He is the author of publications on teacher policies and continuous professional development of teachers.

Chapter 7

The Role of Ministerial Leadership in System Transformation—Some Reflections from Wales Leighton Andrews

7.1 Introduction and Context This is a personal reflection on a period of significant educational reform in Wales, undertaken by the devolved Welsh Government. Following a referendum in 1997, which narrowly endorsed the UK Labour Government’s proposals for an elected Assembly in Wales, the first National Assembly for Wales was elected in 1999 and the first Cabinet took executive office. The Assembly had wide powers in education, which were slowly expanded, although it did not obtain full law-making powers until after a second referendum in 2011. Following the 2011 Assembly election, Welsh Ministers collectively, along with the officials who supported them, became known as the Welsh Government. I will use that term throughout this chapter for the sake of consistency, though it is not a temporally accurate description until after 2011. I became Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning in December 2009, following the election of Wales’s new First Minister, Carwyn Jones. I was reappointed to a slightly modified portfolio as Minister for Education and Skills in May 2011 following that year’s Assembly elections. I left office in late June 2013, during which time I wrote a book on my time as Minister (Andrews, 2014), before returning to the Welsh Government as Minister for Public Services in September 2014. My focus in this chapter will principally be on the programme of school improvement on which we embarked following the publication of the 2009 PISA results, published in December 2010, which I will consider through the ministerial lens, in order to draw some more general observations on the role of a Minister as a system leader in education: however, my ministerial responsibilities were far wider than school improvement, including post-16 education, including higher education and student tuition and support, qualifications, digital learning, employment, skills and training, L. Andrews (B) Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_7



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and the Welsh Language. It should be noted at the outset that Carwyn Jones’s government took office in 2009 a few months before the UK Coalition government came to power with its austerity policies which significantly reduced the public spending available to the Welsh Government after a decade of rising Welsh budgets. Wales, and Welsh education policy, says Power (2016), has been misrecognised, often for political reasons, alluding to the ‘war on Wales’ conducted by the Conservatives in the 2010–15 UK coalition government (see also, Andrews, 2014: 187– 207). This unhelpful narrative of ‘derision’ (Power, 2016) has obscured significantly different policy emphases and objectives, including the commitment to non-selective secondary education and a system based on equity rather than market-led reforms, the benefits of which are now coming under significant scrutiny (Millar, 2018). Wales has substantially fewer students in private schools than in England: nor has Wales not followed England down the Academy route. However, as Wales’s former First Minister, the late Rhodri Morgan, noted ‘for a small country like Wales, it’s what happens over the border in England that sets the standard’ (Morgan, 2017: 266). At this point it is worth saying something more generally about the role of Ministers as leaders of a public service system—for example, in education, in health, or in local government. While this role will always be bounded by situation or context— temporal and systemic conditions, including the minister’s responsibilities to a party, its manifesto or programme for government, by their collective responsibility as a member of a Cabinet, by financial considerations, and by the structural and legal limitations of the role—Ministers have operational space within their specific portfolios to consider how to develop innovative approaches. Their role as political leaders can be a factor in driving or motivating specific approaches across a system. Both Hartley (2010) and Stansfield (2016) identify that one of the challenges of looking at political leadership is the gulf between leadership theory and political science theory—and Hartley observes that political leadership has been ‘under-theorised and under-researched’. I am still to find much written that is useful in respect of the role of a minister in respect of a department, or indeed the wider system to which a department relates. Bevir and Rhodes (2010: 134) maintain that ‘little of note’ has been written about ministers and their government departments, though occasionally former Ministers have reflected on their departmental role: What is the job description of a minister? Being a minister involves leadership—political, of course, but also managerial—of a large organisation, the department. It therefore involves admin, team leadership, time management, priority identification, meetings, decision and policy making (Sheppard, 2000).

In his defining study of leadership, James MacGregor Burns asks us to ‘consider the classic case of the young zealot, a rising leader of a new reform or left-wing cabinet, who is appointed head of a ministry of education’ (1978: 377). Such an executive leader, he suggests, is going to face challenges from within the department they head as well as from ‘unit leaders’ linked to interest groups—in this case professional organizations and unions—outside. Rhodes (2011: 235–236) briefly examines how ministers seek to engage with or mobilise their departments’ ‘client groups’, as they are termed, but this is a rare and fleeting example in the political science

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literature. Discussions of the NHS and of the Police as systems in Bevir and Rhodes (2006) leave ministers largely out of the picture. Ministers are ‘missing links’ in academic research (Pollitt, 2006). Yet in identifiable areas—education and health certainly—ministers are leaders of whole systems. In seeking school reform, for example, they need to engage widely beyond their department with a whole system to project their objectives and seek buy-in for these. As the emphasis has shifted increasingly from policy to delivery in politics, it is this role of system leadership which we must consider, and it is system leadership which is key to understanding the role of ministers in innovation. I borrow the language of system leadership particularly from the writings of Michael Fullan about school reform (Andrews, 2014: 38; Hopkins, 2007). Fullan has been an advocate of ‘tri-level reform’—the three levels being the school, local government and central government. His interest is in building the ‘collective capacity’ of a system (2010: 3). It is an approach that recognises the role of leadership throughout the system—‘distributed leadership’ (see Harris, 2013). For Fullan: For the entire system to be on the move, you need relentless, resolute leadership from the top—leadership that focuses on the right things and above all promotes collective capacity and ownership (p. 13).

Fullan says the role of government ‘is to set the direction, even in an assertive way’ (100) and then engage in a dialogue with other actors within the system, and politicians have to be prepared themselves to learn along the way. Seddon (2014), meanwhile, says politicians should get out of management and focus mainly in the purpose of public service. Some ministerial accounts of school reform do exist in biographies: for example, system reform programmes and the practical engagements of Ministers to undertake them can be found in Adonis (2012), Baker (1993), Barber, (2007), and Blunkett (2006), while Rhodes (2011) deals with the day to day life, and subsequent resignation, of Estelle Morris as Education Secretary in 2002. Ministers, then, don’t only exist as actors within a government, a department, a legislature, or a policy network: in certain roles, they are leaders of a system, and they are recognised in that role by other members of that system. Sectoral journals include them in their lists of the most powerful actors within the sector. Institutions within the sector accord them effective status through invitations to speak at annual conferences or launch events. Their speeches are analysed and used as the basis for policy or delivery engagement, or scoured for signals as to emerging agendas. The language of system leadership is of course in broader use (see Senge, Hamilton, & Kania, 2015). Barber and Fullan (2005) called for system leadership based on continuous reflective action: We need in our view to engage systems leaders in systems thinking in action. In general terms this means that state level leaders—Presidents, Prime Ministers, Premiers, Ministers, Governors, State Superintendents, Director Generals, Deputy Ministers, and the like—must go beyond accountability to foster capacity-building.

They see the establishment of ‘moral purpose’ as a key starting point for system leaders, and regular communication about goals and objectives. A system focus is


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also important as the nature of systems themselves may pose specific challenges to the adoption or non-adoption and transfer of innovations. My ‘moral purpose’ was, as I explained, that a child in Maerdy in my then constituency, one of the poorest parts of Wales, should have the same life chances as a child in Monmouth, one of the richest parts of Wales. I was particularly pleased a few years later, when Ferndale Community School, the comprehensive secondary school based in Maerdy, rose significantly in our school ranking system (Andrews, 2014: 11).

7.1.1 Improvement Challenges: Wales in December 2009—The Need for Whole-System Reform When ministers come into ministries, they are not generally able to declare ‘Year Zero’ and start everything from scratch. Rose (1987) says ‘a minister usually inherits a conglomerate set of responsibilities that have accumulated over decades, generations, or even centuries.’ I came into office with the support of a First Minister whose leadership campaign had pledged additional funding for schools, which we were subsequently able to deliver (Andrews, 2014: 52–64). My predecessor had recently launched a School Effectiveness Framework based on Fullan’s ‘tri-level reform’ model. However, I felt that there were a number of elements missing: amongst them, a lack of clear objectives, weak central capacity in our education department, and wholly underdeveloped supervisory and support capacity in the middle of the three levels, our local authorities, which had the responsibility for school funding and accountability. Our local government system had been re-organised just over a decade earlier: we had gone from eight education authorities to twenty-two virtually overnight, and capacity and experience had been dissipated. In hindsight, the approach adopted was close to Fullan’s outline (2009), in that we established an overall vision, set a small number of goals, created a guiding coalition, allocated resources and sought to develop a partnership with those in the field. I bought time on the funding commitments with a review of funding across the system to identify where there were blockages preventing money getting to the frontline. We were subsequently able to report that the percentage of money delegated by local authorities to schools had significantly increased. After our funding commitment kicked in from April 2011, despite the austerity measures imposed on Wales by the UK Coalition government after 2010, we provided an additional £150 million to schools by the time I left office. In order to address the capacity issues of the department I was determined that we should elevate school standards to the top of our agenda, with a focus on three clear priorities for the School Effectiveness Framework—literacy, numeracy and reducing the impact of deprivation on performance: getting the basics right, as Barber and Fullan (2005) argued. By 2014, the OECD review team that reported on Welsh education reforms acknowledged that ‘the school leaders, teachers, students, trade union representatives and others’ recognised and supported these priorities (OECD,

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2014). I had asked Sir Michael Barber to undertake a seminar for senior officials in my department in January 2010, a month or so after I came into post, where he and I had agreed that we would look not only at objectives but also at the levers for change. In a system where so much responsibility for delivery lies with schools themselves and the local authorities within which they sat, understanding the necessary levers and how to make them work has to be a priority for any Minister. David Blunkett, having the experience of local authority leadership, took a hands-on approach when he became Labour Secretary of State for Education in 1997, recalling later (2006) how this was received: ‘The idea that the Secretary of State would actually manage and take an interest both in leadership and in the machinery of government was, to some, anathema.’ Strong national programmes like the literacy initiative led by Michael Barber gave real levers for change. Blunkett’s Conservative predecessor, Gillian Sheppard, had warned of a lack of levers for change, and said understanding of how the wider system worked was critical, or ministers would find they could ‘push the levers of power but no action will follow’ (Sheppard, 2000). By the time Labour had been succeeded by the coalition government, its schools ministers were clear that they had real levers to provoke change (Laws, 2016; Morgan, 2016). Michael Barber diagnosed our problems and opportunities in his seminar with my officials. Performance had improved over time but we had real issues if we benchmarked ourselves through PISA and against regions in England with similar socio-economic challenges. Variance within and between schools was high, and social class variability was worse than it should have been. We needed clear goals, particularly in respect of literacy and numeracy. We needed to get the balance right between support and challenge. Some would argue that we had focused more on the support than the challenge (Andrews, 2014: 102). We needed to learn from the best systems, with transparency around data and effective accountability systems, strengthened workforce development, leadership across the system, and properly functioning central and local government agencies. We needed particularly to ensure that the system was functioning well, strengthening the delivery chain and putting in place routines that would drive delivery. We needed to challenge complacency, confront difficult issues, and work to change the culture. In short, we needed to move from school effectiveness to school improvement (Andrews, 2014: 100–129; Barber, 2009). Michael subsequently sent me a note which emphasised in particular the need to communicate my vision and priorities: one of the requirements of a reforming minister, says former Labour UK schools minister Andrew Adonis is to ‘lead and explain, lead and explain’ (Adonis, 2012). I was determined that we should elevate school standards to the top of our agenda, with a focus on three clear priorities for the School Effectiveness Framework—literacy, numeracy and reducing the impact of deprivation on performance: getting the basics right, as Barber and Fullan (2005) argued. By 2014, the OECD review team that reported on Welsh education reforms acknowledged that ‘the school leaders, teachers, students, trade union representatives and others’ recognised and supported these priorities (OECD, 2014). The communications challenge appeared to have been met.


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7.1.2 Tri-level School Reform: The Welsh Approach I had clear criticisms of the department that I took over in December 2009. I believed that it was dysfunctional, and the integration of several different quangos into the Department after 2005 had not properly bedded in (Andrews, 2014: 23, 33). My concerns were shared by outsiders (Dixon, 2016: xv; Evans, 2015: 41, 53–55). In order to address the capacity issues of the department, we needed to re-focus. My then special adviser Professor Ian Butler worked with me to identify key areas where the department needed to change: better alignment of departmental spend and staffing with ministerial priorities, clearer visibility for stakeholders of our key priorities, staff facing more obviously outwards than inwards to ensure simplification of delivery structures and clear accountability for delivery from external stake-holders, breaking down departmental silos with a better understanding of how each part of the department was contributing to our overall goals. I brought senior officials together for a monthly policy board—later renamed the policy and delivery board—where issues could be considered on a cross-departmental basis. We created a new School Standards Board internally, bringing in external leadership from one of our better-performing local authorities, whose role it was to challenge local authorities through regular stock-takes both on their and their schools’ performance, and at first, even on their knowledge of their own schools’ performance: some authorities simply didn’t know the data or what should be expected of their schools’ performance, and how change for the better should be mapped. This gave us the central capacity to analyse the data and provide the challenge across the system that was missing. Together with a strengthened Education Inspectorate, Estyn, which adopted a more rigorous Inspection Framework from September 2010, we had the central levers in place to drive change. Estyn moved swiftly—more swiftly than Ofsted in England—to address inadequate local authority support for Education. Ann Keane, the Chief Inspector, said that up till then Estyn had not been sharp enough. Now Estyn was ‘more robust and rigorous’ (quoted in Andrews, 2014: 46). By the time I left office in 2013, five of our local authorities had been put into special measures, with review boards in place to work on turning them around. We put in place significant national challenge to our local authorities, with an external task and finish group chaired by former Neath Port Talbot Education Director, Viv Thomas, who had been part of a similar review into education in Northern Ireland, which called for stronger school improvement on a regional basis, bringing extra capacity to underperforming local authorities. Professor Ken Reid of Swansea Metropolitan University described the report as ‘the most thorough and comprehensive’ produced in Wales since devolution. The four regional consortia were further strengthened by a later review carried out for us by Hill (2013), who had served in the Number Ten Policy Unit when Tony Blair was Prime Minister, which resulted in a national model for regional working and monies ring-fenced by local authorities for the regional consortia to spend on school improvement, subsequently announced by my successor (for the detail, see Andrews, 2014: 129–149). Andrew Adonis, architect of the Blair Government’s Academies programme, says that optimism that local authorities could

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be reformed was one of the ‘blind alleys’ he initially followed (Adonis, 2012): in Wales, we did see local authority strengthening their work on school improvement, backed by the regional consortia, but it is an unfinished struggle (see Evans, 2015: 166–167). In terms of reform where it really mattered, in schools, what gave us the spur was the announcement of the 2009 PISA results in December 2010. The results were clear. In terms of overall performance, Wales had gone down. Our scores for reading and maths were below the OECD average. Science was at the OECD average but below the UK average. Socio-economics were clearly not the reason for our poor performance. When faced with bad news as a minister, you can go into denial; announce a rash of new reforms, or face up to the problem. I chose the last of these options. I wanted the bad news to sink in across the system and for people to be clear that we were serious about taking action, rather than indulge in the distraction of debating whether or not the latest policy initiative was right or wrong. I said it was a ‘systemic failure’, and there were ‘no alibis and no excuses.’ PISA was not our only indicator, and I am aware of the criticisms that have been advanced about PISA in a number of quarters (see, for example, Evans, 2015: 57). We were simply not performing well enough on other measures, including our literacy and numeracy rates at the end of primary school and our GCSE results. The 20-point reform programme I announced in February 2011 in my speech Teaching Makes a Difference (Dixon, 2016: 38–43) became the core of the education section of the Welsh Labour manifesto for the 2011 Assembly elections, the results of which allowed us to govern alone, after four years of coalition with Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party. The speech was critical of where we were as a system. I wouldn’t now stand by every policy that I announced—and I made one overly-optimistic promise on our 2012 PISA performance that was ill-judged, as I subsequently admitted (Andrews, 2014: 109). However, in both the areas of challenge and support were policies that have stood the test of time. Recognising that we needed to ensure better public understanding about school performance to drive improvement, we introduced a system for banding secondary schools, which today is known as the national school categorisation system. We also created a bilingual website—My local school—which allowed parents, students and teachers to see at a glance the available information on every school in Wales and was runner-up in the Royal Statistical Society public service awards in 2013. In order to deliver on our commitments on literacy and numeracy, we introduced a national Literacy and Numeracy Framework, supplemented by standardised tests. Other points included the reforms we had announced to ensure regional consortia support for local authorities, and the development of capacity-enhancing reforms to support teachers, including a new Master’s in Educational Practice for newly qualified teachers, based on leading research, expected to involve 15% of the teaching profession directly and a further 30% indirectly (Hadfield, Connolly, Barnes, & Snook, 2017), reforms to leadership programmes and leadership oversight and a new Education Workforce Council, strengthened online learning resources for teachers, raised standards of entry into teaching and professional standards and reviewed initial teacher training


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(see Andrews, 2014: 151; Furlong, 2015; Tabberer, 2013). Support to implement these reforms was followed through on the ground (see Andrews, 2014: 112–113; Hopkins, 2013). A pilot programme of professional learning communities was developed into a national model more closely aligned with our system priorities, underpinned by online learning materials and field support (see Harris & Jones, 2017). Alongside, this, following a report by Professor Ken Reid and others, and recognising the impact of absenteeism on attainment, significant efforts were put into addressing absenteeism and behaviour, which significantly reduced overall absentee rates by 2013 (Andrews, 2014: 123–124; NBAR, 2008; Welsh Government, 2018a). There is no doubt that some of these reforms were controversial, and I was anxious that we directly engaged with those on the front-line who were delivering reforms. As the former head of Tony Blair’s Policy Unit, Mulgan (2015: xvii) says ‘parties and governments often struggle to hear what is happening on the ground, and those on the ground often struggle to understand how the world looks to a minister or a global agency’. Accordingly, alongside a Ministerial Advisory Board which had members independently appointed through the Nolan process, I set up a Practitioners Panel which would meet with me as Minister regularly and was chaired by a successful Headteacher. This would also become a sounding board for the Department to outline planned policy proposals and report back on reviews or consultations. I followed through on Michael Barber’s injunction to keep communicating with the profession. I was determined to demonstrate that the Government could provide support as well as challenge, and my update speech, entitled Learning from the Best, a year after Teaching Makes a Difference, was different in tone and deliberately pitched to stress the best-practice that existed in some of our schools in Wales (for reaction, see Evans, 2015: 69–71).

7.1.3 Outcomes and Reflections Sir Michael Barber, speaking to the Welsh Government’s Raising Our Sights conference attended by school leaders from across Wales in 2013, while acknowledging the pace of change and the demands it put on the system, declared that ‘it’s great to see the Welsh education system on the move again’ (Andrews, 2014: 124). GCSE results in 2013 showed Wales starting to close the gap with England, and also showed the attainment gap between those on free school meals and those not—used as a proxy for measures of deprivation—narrowing (Andrews, 2014: 126–127). Perhaps more importantly, statistics have shown a rising percentage of Welsh students gaining 5 good GCSEs including English or Welsh and Maths since the reform programme took place, and increases in the overall wider and capped wider points scores. Changes in qualifications in both England and Wales have made general comparison more difficult over the last three years in particular. The Welsh education system is improving, has an agenda agreed and supported across the system (OECD, 2014) and has put in place significant reforms in respect of system-wide goals, accountability, support, qualification reform, professional development, and many other areas.

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Perhaps more importantly, the key reforms have been endorsed and built upon by both of my successors in office, Huw Lewis and Kirsty Williams. The school banding system was developed into a more comprehensive school categorisation system. Additional targeted support for schools in need was successfully developed through the School Challenge Cymru system (Ainscow, 2017). The Literacy and Numeracy Framework, supported by annual tests, continues (Williams, 2017). A new National Academy for Educational Leadership has now been launched (Welsh Government, 2018b). To some extent, all you can hope for as a minister, particularly in a policy arena often so ideologically charged as education, is that the basics of the reforms that you help to institute are carried through and developed subsequently, rather than being overturned in a short time-frame. In their account of how the world’s most successful school systems keep improving, McKinsey found that the most commonly-observed feature which ignited a programme of school improvement was the introduction of new political leadership (Mourshed, Chijioke, & Barber, 2010: 98). They argued that this could be the overall political leader of a system, or what they called a ‘strategic leader’ such as an Education Minister. Another factor could be the publication of a critical report, such as an international benchmarking report. All of these factors were true in the Welsh context: a new First Minister In Carwyn Jones, a new Education Minister in myself, and the publication of a highly critical report in terms of the 2009 PISA results. These were key elements of the context that led to our reform programme in Wales, and the continuing commitment to it since.

7.1.4 Conclusion: Structure, Agency and Ministerial Legacy I want to conclude with some general observations that are relevant to education ministers and their operation in political systems. Ministerial and civil service narratives tend to privilege agency and personality, write Smith, Richards, and Marsh (2000), so it is the job of researchers to bring structure and constraint back into view. This is no surprise: political life requires individual entrepreneurialism, from building individual skills and capacity to achieve selection in a seat, to mobilising people in teams to help you win an election, to gaining recognition within a legislature or the media in order to earn the eye of a Prime or First Minister or their aides or their whips who might recommend you for promotion. ‘Political life’ say Bevir and Rhodes (2010: 197) ‘consists of meaningful activity’. The privileging of agency narratives is accentuated by the desire of the media to tell a complex story in simple terms, and also by the desire of a political Opposition to interpret accountability in terms of personal agency (Dunleavy, 1995). It is widely accepted that, while structural constraints exist on ministers, they do have agency: in the words of Bevir and Rhodes (2006), they have ‘situated agency’. They are situated within a context defined by a party programme, a history of prior policies, a balance of power within a Cabinet, particularly in a coalition context, and a budgetary framework (Laver & Schepsle, 1994).


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One of the key structural constraints on a Minister is time. The former head of Tony Blair’s strategic communications unit, Hyman, wrote (2005): ‘too often in government the urgent crowds out the important’ (2005). Smith identifies time as a resource for civil servants, but a constraint for ministers (Smith, 1999). Rhodes identifies that at most 20% of a UK Minister’s day can be spent on policy issues— and says that is probably an overestimate (2011: 102). Ministers in the UK systems of government are of course also constituency or regional representatives, and in time terms there can certainly be a problem of role conflict, but it can mean that ministers get direct feedback on the operation of a public service from their constituents in a way that their officials will not. Wicks (2012) analysed his own experience as a minister and stressed the ‘mundane’ and the ‘routine’ as taking up a considerable amount of time—such as the signing of correspondence. He recorded ‘one fundamental fact about ministerial life is that it is an exceedingly busy one’, and stresses the shortcuts which ministers must effect to make judgements. Former Education Secretary Gillian Sheppard wrote (2000: 119–122) All those who have been ministers have remarked on the need to be autocratic about the diary, otherwise it is filled with important-sounding but perhaps not essential meetings….Unless new Cabinet ministers are aware that they may be kept so busy by zealous officials that all power is lost, they run the risk of becoming little more than automatons….I took control of my diary, believing that the use of my time was an important priority. I allocated blocks to policy preparation, speech writing, and strategy.

Time has another dimension, however. Ministers are transients in government departments, so their judgements of time are not only conditioned by the day-to-day. They are also conscious of the time they have to make an impact, before they may move portfolios, lose their jobs or face an election: they need to make early assessments of how best to use their time (Rose, 1971). In the UK government specifically, churn amongst ministers is frequent (Cleary & Reeves, 2009): for example, in the UK Adonis notes that there were six Secretaries of State for Education during the ten years he spent on education issues, first as an advisor in Ten Downing Street, then as Minister for Schools (Adonis, 2012). Those wishing to make an impact therefore have to be clear about their priorities from an early stage. For Headey (1974), certain kinds of ministers were ‘policy initiators’. Marsh, Richards, and Smith (2000) redefine that definition, identifying certain ministers who were clear ‘agenda setters’, who sought to change the broad agenda or policy line of their departments’; Smith et al. (2000) say that ministers whose changes outlive them, and are carried forward by their successors, can be thought to be ‘agenda institutionalisers’. All Ministers look to their legacy and would like to be thought of as ‘making a difference’: certainly that has been true in the Welsh context (Cole, 2012; Cole, Jones, & Storer, 2003). No-one teaches you how to be a Minister: it’s a learning process. Every Minister’s context will be different. But ministerial narratives may give others insight, and we could do with more that reflect on the Ministerial role as a system leader.

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References Adonis, A. (2012). Education education education. London: Biteback. Ainscow, M. (2017). Schools challenge Cymru: A catalyst for change? Undated presentation, Glasgow, March 2017. Andrews, L. (2014). Ministering to education. Cardigan: Parthian. Baker, K. (1993). The turbulent years. London: Faber. Barber, M. (2007). Instruction to deliver. London: Politicos. Barber, M. (2009). From system effectiveness to system improvement: Reform paradigms and relationships. In A. Hargreaves & M. Fullan (Eds.), Change wars. Bloomington: Solution Tree Press. Barber, M., & Fullan, M. (2005). Tri level development: It’s the system. Retrieved May 16, 2018, from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2005/03/02/25fullan.h24.html. Bevir, M., & Rhodes, R. A. W. (2006). Governance stories. London: Routledge. Bevir, M., & Rhodes, R. A. W. (2010). The state as cultural practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Blunkett, D. (2006). The Blunkett Tapes: My life in the Bear-pit. London: Bloomsbury. Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper and Row. Cleary, H., & Reeves, R. (2009). The ‘culture of churn’ for UK Ministers and the price we all have to pay, Demos, 12 June, https://www.demos.co.uk/files/Ministerial_Churn.pdf. Cole, A. (2012). Serving the nation: Devolution and the civil service in Wales British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(3), 458–476. Cole, A., Jones, J. B., & Storer, A. (2003). Inside the national assembly for wales: The Welsh civil service under devolution. Political Quarterly, 74(2), 223–232. Dixon, P. (2016). Testing times. Cardiff: Welsh Academic Press. Dunleavy, P. (1995). Re-interpreting Westland. In R. A. W. Rhodes & P. Dunleavy (Eds.), Prime Minister; Cabinet and core executive. London: Macmillan. Evans, G. (2015). A class apart. Cardiff: Welsh Academic Press. Fullan, M. (2009). Have theory, will travel: A theory of action for system change. In A. Hargreaves & M. Fullan (Eds.), Change wars. Bloomington: Solution Tree Press. Fullan, M. (2010). All systems go. Thousand Oaks: Corwin. Furlong, J. (2015). Teaching tomorrow’s teachers: Options for the future of initial teacher education in Wales. Oxford: University of Oxford Department of Education. Hadfield, M., Connolly, M., Barnes, Y., & Snook, J. (2017). Developing the capacity to support beginning teachers in Wales: Lessons learnt from the masters in educational practice. Wales Journal of Education, 91(1), 90. Harris, A. (2013). Distributed leadership: Friend or foe? Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 41(5), 545–554. Harris, A., & Jones, M. S. (2017). Professional learning communities—A strategy for school and system improvement? Wales Journal of Education, 19(1), 16–38. Hartley, J. (2010). Political leadership. In S. Brookes & K. Grint (Eds.), The new public leadership challenge. Basingstoke Palgrave MacMillan. Headey, B. (1974). British Cabinet Ministers. London: George Allen and Unwin. Hill, R. (2013). The future delivery of education services in Wales. Cardiff: Welsh Government. Hopkins, D. (2007). Every school a great school. Maidenhead: OPU. Hopkins, D. (2013). Exploding the myths of school reform. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Hyman, P. (2005, October 24). Reforming zeal is no substitute for better education policies. Guardian. Laver, M., & Schepsle, K. A. (1994). Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Laws, D. (2016, February 4). Transcript, David Laws. Ministers Reflect Archive, Institute for Government. Retrieved May 16, 2018 from https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/minist ers-reflect/person/david-laws/.


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Marsh, D., Richards, D., & Smith, M. J. (2000). Re-assessing the role of Departmental Cabinet Ministers. Public Administration, 78(2), 305–326. Millar, F. (2018). The best for my child: did the schools market deliver? Melton: John Catt Educational Ltd. Morgan, N. (2016, December 19). Transcript, Nicky Morgan. Ministers Reflect Archive, Institute for Government. Retrieved May 16, 2018, from https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/min isters-reflect/person/nicky-morgan/. Morgan, R. (2017). Rhodri. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Mourshed, M., Chijioke, C., & Barber, M. (2010). How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better. McKinsey. Retrieved May 16, 2018 https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/ social-sector/our-insights/how-the-worlds-most-improved-school-systems-keep-getting-better. Mulgan, G. (2015). Foreword: the study of social innovation: theory, practice and progress. In A. Nicholls, J. Simon, & M. Gabriel (Eds.), New frontiers in social research. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. NBAR. (2008). National behaviour and attendance review for Welsh Assembly Government. Final Report. Cardiff: WAG. OECD. (2014). Improving schools in Wales: An OECD perspective. Paris: OECD. Pollitt, C. (2006). Performance information for democracy: The missing link. Evaluation, 12(1), 38–55. Power, S. (2016). The politics of education and the misrecognition of Wales. Oxford Review of Education, 42(3). Rhodes, R. A. W. (2011). Everyday life in British Government. Oxford: OUP. Rose, R. (1987). Ministers and Ministries: A functional analysis. Oxford: Clarndon Press. Rose, R. (1971) The making of cabinet ministers. British Journal of Political Science, 1(4), 393–414. Seddon, J. (2014). The whitehall effect. Axminster. Triarchy Press. Senge, P., Hamilton, H., & Kania, J. (2015, Winter). The dawn of system leadership. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_dawn_of_system_ leadership. Sheppard, G. (2000). Sheppard’s watch: Illusions of power in British politics. London: Politicos. Smith, M. J. (1999). The core executive in Britain. London: Palgrave. Smith, M. J., Richards, D., & Marsh, D. (2000). The changing role of Central Government Departments. In R. A. W. Rhodes (Ed.), Transforming British Government. London: Macmillan. Stansfield, A. (2016). Clear purpose or sheer survival? National ministerial leadership across multiple arenas. American Review of Public Administration, 46(4), 478–498. Tabberer, R. (2013). A review of initial teacher training in Wales. Cardiff: Welsh Government. Welsh Government. (2018a). Evaluation of fixed-penalty notices issued for regular non-attendance at school. Cardiff: Welsh Government. Retrieved May 16, 2018, from https://gov.wales/docs/ caecd/research/2018/180508-evaluation-fixed-penalty-notices-issued-regular-non-attendanceschool-en.pdf. Welsh Government. (2018b, May 16). New support for education leaders. Retrieved May 16, 2018, from https://gov.wales/newsroom/educationandskills/2018/new-support-for-education-leaders/? lang=en. Wicks, M. (2012). What Ministers do. Political Quarterly, 88(3), 585–598. Williams, K. (2017, April 24). Cabinet secretary for education. Kirsty Williams, explains the National Reading and Numeracy Tests in Wales. Retrieved May 16, 2018, from https://gov. wales/newsroom/articles/educationandskills/cabinet-secretary-for-education-kirsty-williamsexplains-the-national-reading-and-numeracy-tests-in-wales/?lang=en.

Leighton Andrews is Professor of Practice in Public Service Leadership and Innovation at Cardiff Business School. Formerly Minister for Education and Skills and Minister for Public Services in the Welsh Government from 2009 to 2016, a Deputy Minister in from 2007 to 2009 and Assembly Member for the Rhondda from 2003 to 2016. He was the BBC’s Head of Public Affairs

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in London from 1993 to 1996 during its Charter Renewal campaign. He teaches, researches and writes in the fields of government, public leadership and innovation, education policy, regulation and governance of media, social media and digital.

Chapter 8

Transformation in New South Wales Through Collaborative Professional Engagement: From Ambition to Actualization Ann McIntyre

The challenge of education reform has two aspects to it: getting the policy right and securing successful implementation. The first is difficult and the subject of a stream of publications, variable in quality but endless in quantity. The second is even more difficult but, oddly, barely touched on in academic literature. Maybe this is because those who have not been at the sharp end of delivering reform find it hard to understand the challenge of delivery, let alone write about it. Or maybe it’s simply that the “what?” is an easier question than “How?” (1) Michael Barber … there is a growing awareness that the structural changes which have been typical of many of the reforms of recent years have had insufficient impact on what happens in the classroom, and on teaching and learning. One of the reasons for this is that many reform initiatives have been top down, often leaving those involved in a state of confusion. Many governments have sought compliance for their reforms, but the compliance mentality generated by many large scale reforms can exclude communities, foster institutional inertia and stifle professional creativity. (2) John MacBeath

8.1 Introduction At the heart of educational change is what teachers, schools and system leaders know, understand, care about and act upon. Professional learning and school improvement processes are inextricably linked through each of these elements. The desired impacts of educational reforms are ultimately realised in the classroom and teachers are the critical key to effective implementation. The gap that often exists between the intention of a reform and its actualisation can be reduced through enabling increased engagement of teachers and school leaders in the purpose and A. McIntyre (B) University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_8



A. McIntyre

development of the reform, and by designing systems to enable greater flexibility for schools and teachers to enact the ambition of the reform. This chapter presents the voice of teachers in articulating the actions that have the greatest impact on their learning and the development of the quality of their teaching. It highlights that the evidence for action is close at hand if the insights of teachers are enabled through policies that support teacher professionalism. What emerges in this study of teachers in New South Wales government schools is the power of teacher collaborative learning through open, respectful inquiry that is centred on planning, teaching and assessing the impact of their work together. Teacher leadership emerges through evidence informed collaborative action that is focused on refining their teaching to improve the achievement of their students. These teachers work within a state system that has created and resourced a framework for professional learning to support the development of teacher quality within the context of school improvement. The framework was designed to enable professional learning to be closely focussed on school and classroom practice. This framework sought to establish a balance between the responsibility and accountability for actions and outcomes.

8.2 About New South Wales New South Wales (NSW) is Australia’s most populous state, with 7.5 million of the nation’s 23.5 million people living in the state. The population is diverse with almost a third of residents being born overseas, and almost a third of the nation’s people identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, living in NSW (ABS, 2014). While NSW has a strong economy there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest in the state with the income inequity and rates of poverty sitting above the national average (NCOSS, 2014). Despite this inequity, educational outcomes, as measured by PISA, are above the national mean although the differences in student results are closely linked to socioeconomic backgrounds. Education in Australia is provided through both government and non-government schools with all schools receiving public funding. Approximately two-thirds of students attend government schools and these schools have an inclusive enrolment policy. ABS (2013) There is a broad socioeconomic gap between students from government and nongovernment schools with students from nongovernment schools tending to come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds (Burns & McIntyre, 2017). In Australia both the federal and state governments have a voice in educational policy. While the states have constitutional responsibility for education, nationally agreed policy frameworks influence what is taught in schools, who teaches it, and how teachers are taught. With the intention to provide a framework for quality education in Australia, the national policy organisations describe curriculum standards for students as well as professional standards for teachers. The web of policies winds through many levels before it reaches the teacher as the national policies are further described at a state level before ultimately being enacted within schools and classrooms.

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8.3 Teacher Insight: Evidence for Action Professional learning and school improvement are closely intertwined. At the most fundamental level we know that if we are currently doing the best we can, and we seek to improve upon current practice, we must turn our attention to our own learning. Both the form and purpose of professional learning has been changing as the emphasis has moved from input to outcomes. In the past the most dominant model of professional learning was focussed on receiving input that was often informed by interests, and based on the transfer of knowledge. For teachers, the professional learning experience was often experienced as going somewhere to hear from an expert and then returning to their school to implement these ideas, and share the message about how the actions of teachers should now change. This process tended to be episodic and disconnected and had little chance of changing teaching practices. Within this model the evaluation of professional learning was based on compliance. It involved the measure of the number of people who attended the event, the time spent there, and the content delivered. This model assumed that “knowing” translated to “doing”, and that the purpose of professional learning was to impart knowledge to enable compliance to a new direction. It also assumed that learning and doing were in some way separated, and that teacher learning occurs beyond, rather than within, classrooms and schools. The model also failed to acknowledge the understandings and beliefs that underpinned the existing professional practices of the teachers, and the value of collaborative teacher inquiry (McIntyre, 2013). The increased drive for improvement in student learning outcomes and the emphasis on teaching quality has prompted a re-examination of professional learning. Professional learning has been transitioning from a model that is focussed on input, informed by interest, and delivered with an emphasis on knowledge transfer to a focus on outcomes, informed by evidence of current practice and designed to transform practice. This form of professional learning is closely linked to teaching practice, engages teachers in inquiry over a sustained period of time, is collaborative and is embedded in their daily work (McIntyre, 2013). This transition requires a repositioning of schools, and communities of schools, as places that are focused on the learning of teachers as well as the learning of students. This brings professional learning closer to the classroom and in doing so enables teachers to become leaders of their learning. Strong evidence is emerging regarding the power of collaborative professional learning in transforming teaching practice. The NSW professional learning strategy (2005–2013) drew on the growing body of evidence regarding what it is that teachers and school leaders do, and can do, that has the greatest impact on student learning. In NSW government schools, teacher professional learning was the key strategy articulated within the school improvement plan and was linked to both teacher professional standards and school improvement targets. Teachers and schools were responsible for determining their professional learning within the context of their professional needs and the priorities of their school. A key enabler for this process was the devolution of all professional learning funding directly to schools.


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The devolved school focused professional learning system was driven by two key beliefs. These were, firstly, that schools were in the best position to align the learning needs of their teachers with the learning needs of students, and secondly that the professional learning that would have the greatest impact on classroom practices would be that which was closely aligned to the day to day work of teachers within the school. The devolution of professional learning funding to schools required the development of a system to account for, both the allocation and the impact of the teacher professional learning funds. This system enabled the gathering of substantial evidence from teachers and school leaders regarding the professional learning strategies that had the greatest impact on the learning of students, teachers and school leaders. It also paved the way for longitudinal research to establish what teachers find has the greatest impact on their learning and their capacity to teach (McIntyre, 2013; Burns & McIntyre, 2017). A significant element of this strategy was the aim to create a school, rather than a system led, approach to improvement within a framework of shared responsibility.

8.4 Powerful Learning Is at Hand As a component of the evaluative professional learning reporting of schools, just over 6000 teachers contributed to research regarding the factors that have had the greatest impact on their learning and the development of their teaching skills (McIntyre, 2013). They highlighted the relative impact of six key elements of collaborative within school actions (See Fig. 8.1). “The six key elements that had the greatest impact for primary teachers were, in order of influence: • • • • •

The collaborative preparation of lessons and teaching resources Lesson observation and observing each other’s lessons The collaborative assessment and evaluation of student work Structured feedback meetings Developing evidence to demonstrate the achievement of professional teaching standards • Team teaching The six key elements that had the greatest impact for secondary teachers were, in order of influence: • • • •

Lesson observation and observing each other’s lessons Structured feedback meetings The collaborative preparation of lessons and teaching resources Developing evidence to demonstrate the achievement of professional teaching standards

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Collaboration ... Impact on Teacher Learning 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Compiling Collaboratively evidence to assessing and demonstrate evaluating the student work achievement of standards

Structured feedback meetings


Team teaching Collaboratively preparing lessons and resources

Lesson observation


Fig. 8.1 Collaborative practices: impact on teacher learning

• The collaborative assessment and evaluation of student work, • Team teaching.” (3) The allocation of the system’s professional learning budget directly to schools enabled teachers and school leaders to structure time to enable lesson observation and feedback and the collaborative development and evaluation of lessons. This provided a significant source of professional learning for teachers. Each year an average of 60% of teacher professional learning funding was spent on the provision of additional teaching time. The benefit of teachers working together highlights the importance of reframing the organisation and activities within schools to ensure that schools are not only places for students to learn but also places for teachers to learn (McIntyre, 2013). In 2012 a further study was undertaken with an emphasis on teachers who were identified by their principals as demonstrating highly accomplished teaching. In this study, 750 teachers responded to the question: what are the most effective ways to develop your teaching practice? It is of interest, that they also noted the positive impact of collaborative professional learning on the development of their capacity to teach well (See Fig. 8.2). “These teachers cited the impact of: • • • •

The collaborative preparation of lessons and teaching resources The collaborative assessment and evaluation of student work Lesson observation and observing each other’s lessons, and Structured feedback meetings.” (4)

In the commentary that accompanied this data teachers highlighted the value of both observing the lessons of other teachers, as well as receiving feedback from the


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Fig. 8.2 Collaborative practices: impact on highly accomplished teacher learning

observation of their own lessons. This was most powerful when the lesson observation focussed on specific teaching techniques that had been identified by the teacher who was being observed. Teachers saw this as a process through which both parties learnt. As one highly experienced teacher noted; “If I could change anything about my career, it would be to have had more time to observe other teachers and for them to observe my teaching. Too much of our work as teachers has been in isolation from one another.” Key preconditions identified by the teachers as contributing to the success of lesson observation included, respect for the teaching capacity of the teacher providing feedback, and the active support of school leadership through the allocation of additional teacher time. As well as the four factors that were common to the 6000 teachers, the 750 highly accomplished teachers cited two additional influences upon their learning. The first was their capacity to critically reflect on their teaching practice and its impact on student learning. They also cited as an influence on their own learning the act of leading the professional learning of other teachers. The highly accomplished teachers noted that leading the learning of others involved significant learning for themselves as they were required to analyse the impact of their own teaching. These two additional influences, identified by highly accomplished teachers, combine to provide a powerful reason for systems and school leaders to enable collaborative teacher led inquiry to strengthen the link between teaching and student learning. “Investigation into the most significant sources of feedback to improve teaching has highlighted the importance of within classroom and within school feedback. When the 750 highly experienced teachers were asked to describe the type of feedback they found most useful they highlighted the importance of evidence of assessment

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What types of feedback do teachers find most useful? 25.00% 20.00% 15.00% 10.00% 5.00% 0.00% Feedback Data from Feedback Feedback Feedback Evidence from external from your from other from from parents testing supervisor teachers students assessment and of student community work

Fig. 8.3 Types of feedback that teachers find most useful

from student work and feedback from their students. The second most useful source of feedback was feedback from other teachers and their supervisors (See Fig. 8.3). Data from external testing was rated as having less than half the impact of in-class assessment of student work. It is evident that the key driver of teacher learning is formative assessment conducted during the teaching process. This assessment is most closely connected to the classroom and creates a cycle of continuous feedback for teachers to monitor the impact of their teaching as well as for students to chart the progress of their learning.” (5) Through class based assessment, teachers were making observations and interpreting evidence through a highly authentic focus on improving the learning of their students in the context of their teaching. It is important for assessment to be focussed on providing feedback for teachers about how well they have taught, as well as how well students have learnt. Highly accomplished teachers were constantly evaluating the difference they make and how they made it. The original word “assess” is derived from the Latin word “assidere”. The meaning of this word, “to sit beside” conjures an image of a relationship of support that is focussed on the growth of another. While assessment is often predominantly used for the purposes of differentiation, comparison and judgement, it is when assessment is focussed on the insights teachers gain about the effectiveness of their teaching strategies that it becomes a powerful focus for collaborative professional learning and improvement. In the same study the teachers were asked what types of feedback they sought more often. They identified feedback from other teachers (See Fig. 8.4). In the commentary that accompanied this data, teachers noted a heightened benefit when this feedback was provided by teachers who had strong pedagogical and curriculum expertise. It is clear that in NSW, collaborative inquiry between teachers that is focussed on the connection between teaching practices and student learning is a significant, powerful and sought after opportunity for professional learning. When these teachers were asked to identify the most valuable way of acknowledging teaching excellence they described the value of within school acknowledgement that was focused on the recognition of student achievement. Whilst teachers were not seeking public recognition it is important that as a profession we identify, share and learn from


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What types of feedback do teachers want more often? 30.00% 25.00% 20.00% 15.00% 10.00% 5.00% 0.00%

Data from Evidence Feedback Feedback Feedback Feedback external from from from from your from other testing assessment parents students supervisor teachers of student and work community

Fig. 8.4 Types of feedback that teachers want more often

the practices of excellent teachers. Drawing on the data that indicated that teachers demonstrating high levels of professional accomplishment learn from leading the professional learning of others, it is clear that there is an opportunity to utilise the accomplished teachers to support the growth of others whilst also deepening the understanding of the highly accomplished teachers (Burns & McIntyre, 2017).

8.5 Systems to Support Collaborative Practice It is important to consider the systemic environment that can enable teacher collaborative learning. The ways in which teaching excellence is described, identified and rewarded can enable or hinder teacher collaboration and teacher learning. As Linda Darling-Hammond describes; “it is crucial for schools, teachers, and especially students that we move practice forward to improve the quality of teaching while avoiding potential pitfalls that could damage education.” (6) It is important that the policies and systems that influence the work of teachers are informed by evidence of successful teaching practice and enable professional growth. This requires the development of an authentic articulation of the elements of successful teaching and a policy framework that enables teachers to examine evidence of current practice, establish directions for future growth, and to gain feedback regarding their progress. Standards of practice that have strong professional validity and efficacy can provide a coherent guide for the development of teachers and school leaders. When these standards describe levels of practice that are based on an expanding sphere of influence they provide a powerful scaffold for career development with a focus on the development and sharing of effective teaching strategies. The NSW Professional Teaching Standards and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL, 2011), provide an example of a scaffold that can be used to assess performance and guide professional learning through a progression that fosters collaborative improvement rather than competition. The standards seek to describe the elements that constitute effective teaching practices at four key career

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stages; graduate, proficient, highly accomplished and lead. The career stages describe what teachers need to know, understand and be able to do through the career progression from initial teacher education (graduation), to application within their classroom (proficient), to evidencing highly accomplished and leading teacher practices. This progression describes the development of expertise as teachers improve their skills. As their skills develop they are enabled to expand their sphere of influence through the development of other teachers. The differentiation of these standards is underpinned by collaborative professional learning at each stage (See Fig. 8.5). Systemic frameworks, such as the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL, 2011), that articulate stages in career progression that are based on both teaching expertise as well as the capacity to influence the learning of other teachers, can provide a significant scaffold to strengthen teaching as a collaborative profession. The increased systemic focus on standards has informed professional learning and performance development in NSW. The focus on standards has resulted in teaching becoming less isolated and more collaborative. As has been described in the teachers’ data, collaboration is evidenced by increased classroom observation, structured feedback and mentoring. Collaborative, classroom focussed, professional learning has supported the development of the practices of collaborative planning, teaching and assessing student learning. In NSW schools, structured professional learning is connected to performance management and development processes that

Fig. 8.5 Collaborative professional learning in an evidenced informed accreditation framework


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are focused on individual, team and school learning goals. This process is embedded in teacher award agreements in NSW public schools. In many schools, student learning data provides feedback on teaching strategies and informs professional learning goals. Shared teacher led analysis of the impact of current teaching practices enables authentic engagement through the formulation of shared goals. Under these circumstances, teacher motivation to learn more about the impact of their actions is enhanced, the responsibility for improvement is shared, and teacher leadership centres innovation clearly on classroom practice. This process enables, and values, the creation of evidence informed collaborative knowledge, rather than external systemic prescription of teaching strategies. It enables, and values, teachers as leaders of their learning when the focus of this learning is gaining insights into the effectiveness of teaching for all students.

8.6 Educational Policy Is Mediated Through School Leadership The ongoing challenge to realise the ambition and intent of policy through the experienced reality of the teachers and students results in a wide variation of school practices. At the school level, policy implementation that is designed to improve teaching practice, can be seen on a continuum that ranges from minimal compliance to the form and requirements of the policy to, at the other end of the continuum, implementation of the policy to leverage the improvement of school practices and the capacity of teachers. At one end of the continuum the drive is to address minimal accountability requirements and, at the other end, there is a desire to ensure that any change is implemented with a focus on the responsibility towards students and their teachers. It is often easy to implement structural changes but to enable authentic change in teaching practice is more complex. What school leaders know, understand and care about is the key to the actions they take that shapes the work of teachers (McIntyre, 2011). At a fundamental level successful school leaders establish directions for improvement and feedback mechanisms. They align the school’s systems and resources to support the achievement of these directions, and they actively focus on the learning of teachers, and as well as the students. When these practices are enacted with the deep collaborative engagement of teachers, and with a strong understanding of the conditions under which teachers seek to examine their teaching, changes in practice are most likely to occur. Leaders who seek to enable change through deep engagement in collaborative professional learning have a powerful way to strengthen their understanding of the ways in which teachers engage students in the curriculum and how they evaluate how well students have learnt while also learning about the impact of their teaching. By working closely together to analyse the effectiveness of teaching techniques, leaders develop a deeper understanding of the impact of the school curriculum, assessment

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and accountability policies that shape what teachers are expected to teach and how students are expected to demonstrate their learning. They also develop a deeper understanding of the impact of the school funding strategies that shape the resources and support structures that teachers have available to support their teaching and their students learning. Importantly, they also gain insights into the impact of the school organisation and the way that scheduling influences the time that teachers have available to collaboratively, plan, teach, assess and learn together.

8.7 Aligning Teacher, Leader, School and Student Learning When leaders and teachers collaboratively investigate the impact of their actions the school becomes a place in which evidence informs innovation. This was strongly evidenced in the NSW Team Leadership for School Improvement strategy (DEC, 2008a). Since 2005, professional learning for NSW government schools has been articulated within a standards referenced professional learning continuum through which programs are focussed on the stage of development of teachers and school leaders guided by their circle of influence. In this way teacher learning is framed as “making a difference in the classroom”, teacher leadership as “making a difference in the classroom next door”, school leadership as “making a difference in the school” and system leadership as “making a difference in the school next door” (DET, 2005). The programs explore the key themes of quality teaching and leadership to develop capacity to improve student learning outcomes. The longitudinal evaluation of programs that evidenced change in practice and improved student learning demonstrated five common features, these were; • • • • •

Clear focus on teaching and student learning Active learning and collaborative inquiry Sustained action Alignment of teacher and school leadership learning Collective Learning (McIntyre, 2013).

When faced with the challenge to improve student learning in 125 schools that were identified as exhibiting significant underperformance over time, these elements of effective professional learning were utilised to design a process to build collective efficacy and school capacity for improvement through enabling coherence in teaching and leadership practice. An early examination of these schools revealed some common features. Firstly, the lack of efficacy was articulated by both teachers and school leaders. There was a strong sense that they were unable to make a difference for their students. They provided long lists of interventions that had not produced results and seemed resolved to accept their current outcomes. Secondly, it became apparent that accountability processes were being undertaken but that there was not a clear understanding of how each of these school improvement processes could be enacted together to make a


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difference. Thirdly, there was not a clear understanding of what good practice looked like and what they could do to improve their work together. The Team Leadership for School Improvement Program that was designed and implemented in 2008 sought to build collective efficacy and enable greater collaboration and coherence in teaching and leadership practice. The value of this approach has since been reflected in many studies (Darling-Hammond, 2013, 2017; Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009; Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012). The Team Leadership for School Improvement Program drew on research regarding what school leaders and teachers do that impacts student learning outcomes (Darling-Hammond, 2002, 2010; Elmore, 2004; Fullan, 2006; Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Harris, 2004, 2006, Leithwood et al., 2004; Robinson, 2007). The program was designed to support school teams through an improvement cycle leading to enhanced student performance, increased collaborative leadership capacity and a culture of continuous improvement. The program and process focussed on instructional leadership, teacher leadership and the professional learning of teachers that was focused on strategies to promote student learning. There was a close alignment between these elements that enabled school leadership and teacher learning as a collaborative practice. The professional learning component was scaffolded by seven key concepts: teacher quality, teachers as leaders, beliefs and values about teaching and learning, results-focused teamwork, data-focused school improvement, strategic professional learning and sustainability. The Analytical framework for effective leadership and school improvement (DEC, 2008b) was developed as a methodology to articulate this research as school actions, enable school self-evaluation, establish evidence informed professional learning for teachers and school leaders and chart improvement in school leadership practices. Through this methodology, school practices could be mapped alongside student learning progress. The framework articulated 25 statements of best practice drawing from research findings regarding the actions of leaders that influence student learning (Robinson, 2007; Leithwood et al., 2004). These statements were described at four levels of practice to support school self-evaluation and the establishment of evidence-informed professional learning goals for teachers and school leaders that were aligned to student learning goals. The study provided an overview of school improvement through cohesively aligned professional learning that resulted in significant continuous improvement in student learning outcomes over a three year period. From this study it emerged that school improvement required the capacity for systems to; • Research, analyse and promote the practices of school leaders and teachers that lead to a significant impact on student learning. • Support schools to analyse the learning needs of students, develop targets for both school and classroom action and implement coherent, aligned professional

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learning strategies to build both teacher and school leader capacity to improve student learning. • Implement school improvement systems that promote school self-evaluation and collective efficacy.

8.8 Future Pathways Professional learning is at the heart of school transformation. While transformation is often focussed on systems and schools, it is critical that we ensure the insights of teachers are central to the expanding evidence base regarding how teachers learn, transform their practice, and have the greatest impact on student learning. Ensuring that the systems that shape the work of teachers enable collaborative inquiry will assist to bridge the gap between the ambition and the actualization of school transformation. This engagement can also result in increased responsibility and professional confidence. In order for these collaborative practices to have full effect, we need to share a commitment to, and belief in, our capacity to make a difference to the learning of each student. We also need to be driven, not so much by beyond school accountability but more by a deep responsibility to the learning of each of our students. This responsibility requires a focus on high expectations for the success of our students as well as creating high expectations for our success as teachers. This responsibility, when shared in a trusting, growth-orientated environment, creates a powerful avenue for continuous collective learning. At its most fundamental level, this trust is characterised by an openness to share issues of uncertainty and a level of professional respect that creates a willingness to seek constructive feedback to improve practice. This research highlights the importance for system leaders to consider the following three recommendations. • Place the emphasis of school improvement on professional learning and ensure a cohesive alignment of policies that enable deep engagement in collaborative professional inquiry to support the development of teacher, school leader and school capacity. • In developing policy, to place the fulcrum on the continuum of accountability and capability, at the point that best enables the development of teacher and school leader, capability and responsibility as they enact policy with strong contextual relevance for continuous school improvement. • Establish systems to empower teachers to collaboratively develop their expertise through planning, teaching and assessing the impact of teaching on learning. Ensure curriculum, assessment and accountability policy frameworks have strong contextual relevance and enable feedback for both student and teacher learning as well as the development of professional knowledge about what works well, where and why (McIntyre, 2011).


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The research presented in this chapter highlights the impact of collaborative inquiry as teachers and schools work together to find solutions to shared concerns. It also draws attention to the view that the insights to guide the future directions and enable the development of teaching are to be found within the profession. This is evident in the desire teachers hold for the success of their students and for the rewarding feedback teachers experience when their teaching results in strong student learning. Footnotes 1. Collarbone, P. (2009). Creating Tomorrow: Planning, developing and sustaining change in education and other public services. London: Network Continuum. p. iv. 2. MacBeath, J., & Riley, K. (2000). Evaluating School Performance Tools and Approaches: Putting self-evaluation in place in education. The Wold Bank. p. 2. 3. Burns, D., & McIntyre, A. (2017). Empowered Educators in Australia: How High-Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (p.98–99) 4. Burns, D., & McIntyre, A. (2017). Empowered Educators in Australia: How High-Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (p.99) 5. Burns, D. & McIntyre, A. (2017). Empowered Educators in Australia: How HighPerforming Systems Shape Teaching Quality. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (p.100) 6. Darling-Hammond, L. (2013) Getting Teacher Evaluation Right: What really matters for effectiveness and improvement? New York: Teachers College Press, p. 1.

References ABS. (2013). Schools (No. 4221.0). Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. ABS. (2014). Australian demographic statistics (No. 3101.0). Australian Bureau of Statistics. AITSL. (2011). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. Burns, D., & McIntyre, A. (2017). Empowered educators in Australia: How high-performing systems shape teaching quality. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Collarbone, P. (2009). Creating tomorrow: Planning, developing and sustaining change in education and other public services. London: Network Continuum. Darling-Hammond, L., & Youngs, P. (2002). Defining “Highly Qualified Teachers”: What Does “Scientifically-Based Research” Actually Tell Us? Educational Researcher, 31, 13–25. Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The Flat World and Education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. New York: Teacher College, Columbia University. Darling-Hammond, L. (2013). Developing and Sustaining a High-Quality Teaching Force (Global Cities Education Network). Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Retrieved from https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/developing-and-sus taining-high-quality-teacher-force.pdf.

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Darling-Hammond, L. (2013b). Getting Teacher Evaluation Right: What really matters for effectiveness and improvement. New York: Teachers College Press. Darling-Hammond, L., Burns, D., Campbell, C., Goodwin, L. A., Hammerness, K., Low, E., et al. (2017). Empowered Educators around the World: How High-performing systems shape teaching quality. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. DEC. (2008a). Team Leadership for School Improvement Program. Sydney: NSW Department of Education and Communities. DEC. (2008b). Analytical framework for effective leadership and school improvement. Sydney: NSW Department of Education and Communities. DET. (2005). Professional learning and leadership development continuum. Sydney: NSW Department of Education and Training. Elmore, R. F. (2004). School reform form the inside out: Policy, practice and performance. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Press. Fullan, M. (2006). Change theory, a force for school improvement. Centre for Strategic Education, 157, 3–14. Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future for educational change. California: Corwin. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional Capital: transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press. Harris, A., & Muijis, D. (2004). Improving schools through teacher leadership. London: Open University Press. Harris, A., & Chrispeels, J. (Eds.). (2006). International perspectives on school improvement. London: Routledge Falmer. Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81–112. Leithwood, K., Seashore, L., Anderson, S., & Wahlstrom, K. (2004). How leadership influences student learning. A review of research for the Learning from Leadership Project. New York. Centre for Applied Research and Educational Improvement. MacBeath, J., & Riley, K. (2000). Evaluating School Performance Tools and Approaches: Putting self-evaluation in place in education. The World Bank. McIntyre, A. (2011). Continuous School Improvement: What Matters Most. Canberra: The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. McIntyre, A. (2013). Teacher Quality Evidence for Action. Presented at the Australian College of Education Conference Sydney, Australian College of Education. NCOSS. (2014) Poverty in NSW. Sydney: Council of Social Service of New South Wales. Retrieved from https://www.ncoss.org.au/sites/default/files/public/ncoss_antipoverty_final_2.pdf. Robinson, V. (2007). School leadership and student outcomes: identifying what works and why. Sydney: Australian Council for Educational Leaders.

Ann McIntyre Ann McIntyre is an experienced principal, superintendent and NSW state policy leader who is recognized for her work in quality teaching, leadership, and school and system improvement. She has received numerous national excellence awards and while principal, the school was acknowledged as being “on the leading edge of best practices in teaching and learning.” Ann’s research explores the power of the alignment of teacher and leader professional learning and their impact on student learning, as well as school and system learning. Her most recent research, including Empowered Educators in Australia, focuses on the interrelationship between policy and practice in examining how high performing educational systems empower teachers to achieve strong results.

Chapter 9

Building the Capacity for Collective Responsibility in Norway Thomas Hatch

9.1 Introduction 9.1.1 Responsibility and Accountability in (A Norwegian) Context “Congratulations on your Nobel Peace Prize,” my Norwegian colleagues kept telling me. While not a dream, it was a surreal experience to have Norwegian after Norwegian offer such warm congratulations the day after President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October of 2009. At first, I objected. “It’s not my Peace Prize,” I insisted. Over the course of the day, however, as I continued to receive my colleagues’ good wishes, I began to entertain the possibility: “Maybe I really did have something to do with it?” But it didn’t take me long to realize that if my Norwegian colleagues thought I should share the credit for President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, then they would see me as sharing in the responsibility for everything— good or bad—that every other President had done, both now and into the future…. At the time, I had no idea how uncomfortable that recognition of the importance of collective responsibility would make me feel just a few short years later. That experience in 2009 was not the only moment of cultural dissonance I experienced in the year I spent living with my family in Norway. It was of one of a series of events that helped me to see how the efforts to improve schools and transform education systems are themselves the products of the same economic, social, and geographic forces that shape the systems that those efforts are supposed to change. That realization was slow in coming. It emerged gradually as I tried to make sense of my three daughter’s experiences in Norwegian schools; studied efforts to improve T. Hatch (B) Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, NY, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_9



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educational performance in Norway; and compared those to the initiatives to increase accountability in the United States.

9.2 Our Education in Norway We did not know what to expect in Norwegian schools when we decided to spend the year there, but we had heard from our Norwegian colleagues that there were some concerns about Norway’s performance on the international PISA tests. Those concerns stemmed from the release of the results of the OECD’s PISA tests in 2000 and what became known there as “the PISA Shock”: Norwegian 15 year-olds performing at about the same level as students in the US and at about the average of other OECD countries in reading, mathematics, and science, but far below Norway’s Nordic neighbor, Finland, which was at or near the top of the charts in all three subjects. Our education in Norway began even before we left the US, however, when my wife, Karen, and I tried to enroll Stella, our youngest child in kindergarten in Oslo. After waiting almost 11 years to get all our children into school for a full day, we discovered that compulsory schooling in Norway does not begin until 1st grade. By the time we heard in March that our Fellowships to study in Norway had been approved, almost every private or public kindergarten we called was already overenrolled. At least every kindergarten that was indoors was overenrolled. There were a few places in “forest kindergartens:” kindergartens where children spend almost all day, all year-round, in all kinds of weather, outside. The children did spend about an hour a day inside, usually in a hut-like structure with a kitchen and a bathroom, but since Stella liked to eat her breakfast in the winter under a table next to the heating vent, we thought the outdoor kindergarten probably wasn’t the right fit for her. Instead, we finally found a place for Stella in an international pre-school. She gained friends from all over the world, and she learned to read in the British accent of her teachers. The surprises continued once we arrived in Oslo in August, and Hannah and Clara started school. At the ages of 11 (6th grade) and 8 (4th grade), they left our house in Smestad about 8:45 AM; scootered a block or so to the T-Bane (Oslo’s metropolitan subway); and went 2 stops to school. Karen and I soon discovered that by about 2:15 PM we had to race back from our offices at the University of Oslo in order to be home by the time the girls got back from school. More accustomed in the US to sending the girls off on a bus at 7:30 AM and then picking the up again at 3:30, we found our work day in Norway almost two hours shorter and wondered how we would get anything done. (We also began to wonder how anyone else got anything done when we realized that Oslo’s subways were always packed during a “rush hour” that appeared to start at 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon as many other parents traveled home.) We had so much trouble adjusting to a primary school day that was only about five and half hours long, it took us several weeks to realize that Clara was not getting out of school at the same time as her older sister. When my wife called Clara’s teacher in

9 Building the Capacity for Collective Responsibility in Norway


September to set up a parent conference, we were invited to come in at 1:30. “What will the children be doing then?” my wife wondered. “That’s when they’re done with school,” her teacher responded. When we asked Clara about it, we learned that she, like many of her friends, had been spending an hour hanging out on the playground, while waiting for her sister. For that hour, they played on the playground, lingered around an afterschool program hoping to get leftovers from the hot meal served to enrolled students, or, occasionally, Clara told us, one of the custodial staff help them roast hot dogs over a fire in a trash can in the parking lot. Our perceptions of the differences in instructional time in Norway and the US was also shaped by regular dinner table conversations in which Hannah and Clara told us about woodworking, handwork, and “ute” time (outside time) they had every day. When we asked them to write down their schedule for us, we found that they did have time for math, Norwegian, English and German. But their Norwegian schedule looked nothing like their schedule in the U.S. where they had daily double doses of Language Arts and Math, art and music once or twice a week, and only 20 min for lunch and 20 min for recess every day. For homework in Norway, about the only things they had to do were the math worksheets we tried to get them to do to “keep up” with their peers back in the States. The differences in the emphases in Hannah and Clara’s Norwegian and U.S. school experiences should have been obvious from the start, but in the middle of the Norwegian winter things really hit home. By the end of January, we realized that Clara had spent an entire day, once a week for four weeks in a row, cross-country skiing with her class. She took her skis with her on the T-bane; walked to school; put on her skis with her classmates, her teacher and a few parents (some of whom had logs strapped to their backs for the lunchtime campfire for roasting more hot dogs); and she skied off into the woods. Sometime after lunch, she skied back to school with her classmates, got on the T-bane, and went home. That “sometime” surprised us too: toward the end of the year, when the weather was nice, we found that Hannah would call us anywhere between 12:30 and 2:30 to let us know she was done with school because her teacher (whom we loved) thought they’d had enough for the day. Hannah and Clara had a great time in Norway. Not only that, but they learned Norwegian. They learned to cross-country ski. Hannah went on a weeklong camping trip with her class and climbed the tallest peak in Scandinavia. Clara made a project out of inviting every girl in her class over to play, and, towards the end of the year, turned to Karen and announced, “Mommy, I used to be shy, but I’m not shy anymore.” And she was right. She and Hannah returned to the United States and picked up their academic work right where they left off. Clara is much more outgoing and much more likely to speak up in class. Hannah went on to read Harry Potter in Norwegian. My research on the Norwegian educational system confirmed the commonality of many of my children’s experiences. Students in Norway, like other Nordic countries including Finland, spend about 700 h with their teachers in middle school while those in the United States spend almost 400 h more in school every year. We learned that, in addition to what felt like a more limited emphasis on academics and homework, students in Norway receive no grades—no written marks of any kind—up until 8th


T. Hatch

grade. While some national standardized tests were introduced (with great controversy) in selected grades and subjects in 2004, for the most part students can still get to 8th grade with almost no written documentation about whether or not they are performing below, above, or at the same level as their peers. On top of that, almost all elementary students (nearly 95%) are enrolled in the regular classroom; there is no tracking by ability; and elementary students cannot “fail” or be held back. Slowly, as Karen and I reflected on these personal experiences and our own research, it dawned on us: with less instructional time, less emphasis on academics, less homework, no written marks and limited testing, Norwegian students still perform about as well as students in the United States. By the end of our year in Norway, we told our friends and colleagues that the Norwegian educational system is doing as well as the U.S. system without even trying.

9.3 Responsibility in Accountability Many of the American parents we met in Norway reported that their children had similar experiences in Norwegian schools, and many said their children had also made successful transitions to school or college back in States. Nonetheless, we know that not every child would gain the same benefits from the experiences in Norway that Hannah and Clara did. Furthermore, even with all those benefits and a personal preference for a little more project-based learning and less multiple-choice testing in the United States, we would have liked to have seen a little more focus on academics and accountability in Norway. Over the course of the year, we also learned that many Norwegians, including some of the parents we got to know, shared some of these concerns. Worries about the performance of the Norwegian educational system were widespread following “the PISA shock” and a slight decline on Norway’s scores on the next round of PISA tests fueled further concerns. Those concerns sparked a series of reforms in Norway that focused on two key aspects of the efforts to increase accountability that spread across the globe: establishing measureable outcomes and developing the instruments needed to monitor progress towards those outcomes (Verhooest, 2005). Norway created new competence aims and an emphasis in every subject on the development of basic skills including oral and written expression, reading, numeracy, and the use of digital tools, from first grade on. In what have been called the Knowledge Promotion reforms, Norway also established several new mechanisms for monitoring student progress, tracking school performance, and reviewing the extent to which schools and local authorities are fulfilling their statutory obligations. These instruments included national tests in reading, numeracy, and English that were originally proposed for 4th, 7th, and 10th grades; pupil and parent surveys; and the “Tilsyn” which generally translates as an inspection of the municipalities and county governments’ (considered the school owners in the Norwegian system) compliance with legal requirements.

9 Building the Capacity for Collective Responsibility in Norway


While a belief in the need for improvement and for the development of some kind of “quality assurance” scheme with competence aims and some monitoring mechanisms was widely shared across much of the political spectrum in Norway, the implementation of these new reforms was controversial. Much of the controversy focused on a third critical aspect of accountability: the follow-up mechanisms such as rewards, sanctions and other incentives that many assume are needed to ensure that individuals actually do achieve the desired goals (Verhooest, 2005). At first, the conservative government in power when the Knowledge Promotion reforms were being designed sought to use the national test results as a means of putting public pressure on schools and motivating schools to make sure their students met the new outcomes. To do so, consistent with the market-based reforms central to many other accountability initiatives around the world, the conservative government initially planned to publish the test results. In addition to this public pressure, the information on performance was to be used by parents who would advocate for better schools and, if necessary, demand to switch their children to higher-performing schools. Correspondingly, the first tests were carried out in the spring of 2004; school-by-school results were released; and newspapers and media quickly produced rankings and “league-tables” of schools (Nusche et. al., 2011). The subsequent outcry, problems in the development of the tests, and the election of a more liberal coalition government in 2005, however, led to a shift in approach that emphasized the use of the tests, surveys, and inspections for formative purposes and to inform improvement efforts, rather than as a means of pressuring schools and school owners to make those improvements (Hatch, 2013a). In particular, the national tests originally implemented in the spring of 4th and 7th grade were moved to the fall of 5th and 8th grade, and 9th grade. These changes were consistent with the arguments of those who felt that the tests should not be used as outcome measures; but instead should be used to provide teachers and schools with data to inform subsequent instruction. In addition, regulations were passed discouraging education authorities from using the results of the national tests for school rankings. Furthermore, while the Tilsyn served as an annual inspection that could help to identify school owners who were out of compliance with legal regulations, no specific rewards or sanctions were established and no legal actions were taken to follow-up on the results. In the end, the Norwegian reforms essentially left it up to the actors—the educators, schools and school owners themselves—to ensure that the newly-established outcomes would be achieved. At first, I was puzzled by what I was learning. From the standpoint of many policymakers in the United States and elsewhere who advocate for increased accountability as a key vehicle for systemic educational improvement, “failing” to establish followup mechanisms seems like a critical lapse—a “bad” choice—likely to undermine the strengthening of accountability that the other reforms were supposed to support. The more I learned about Norwegian society and reflected on my own and my children’s perspectives, however, the more I could see the Norwegian reforms as a logical extension of policies and practices that have always placed significant emphasis on trust and a collective sense of responsibility for the common good. Thus, the recent Norwegian policies suggest a different way of dealing with the inevitable tensions between two


T. Hatch

aspects of accountability: answerability and responsibility (Gregory, 2003). Answerability reflects the beliefs that individuals and groups should be accountable for meeting clearly-specified and agreed upon procedures and/or goals. Responsibility reflects the belief that individuals and groups should be held accountable for living up to and upholding norms of conduct and higher purposes that are often ambiguous and difficult to define in advance. While accountability in the United States has become almost synonymous with approaches that embrace answerability, in countries like Norway and Finland there is no equivalent for the English word “accountability”, and, instead, responsibility takes center stage. Despite these different emphases, however, these different approaches to accountability are linked in a challenging paradox: if members of an organization are answerable only for reaching certain outcomes, then logic suggests they should not be held responsible if their actions to reach those goals are inconsistent with broader, undefined responsibilities or purposes; conversely, if teachers are behaving in ways that are consistent with the pursuit of larger purposes, it seems unreasonable to hold them accountable if they do not meet all of the specified targets along the way (Harmon 1995). These tensions between answerability and responsibility are reflected in the usual debates over bureaucratic and professional forms of accountability: establishing answerability and specifying consequences for meeting particular targets can increase efficiency, but can lead many other valued outcomes to be ignored and can undermine the discretion and judgment that may be needed to make many decisions; conversely, trusting individuals—even those who are thoughtful and responsible members of a profession—can increase inconsistencies and inefficiency and does not guarantee that essential goals will be achieved. In other words, both approaches have “side effects” that compromise basic purposes they are designed to fulfill (De Wolf & Janssens, 2007; Ehren & Visscher, 2008; Koretz, 2003). Too often, answerability and responsibility are seen as two ends of a continuum: either focus on answerability (and undermine responsibility) or focus on responsibility (and ignore answerability). Along with this polarized view, many policies seem to suggest that there is an either/or choice between strengthening the bureaucratic controls that go along with answerability or leave people alone to exercise their professional responsibility. However, simply leaving individuals and groups alone is not the same thing as supporting the development of individual and collective responsibility. Developing responsibility also involves developing the capacity—the investments, resources, abilities, commitments, and relationships—needed to carry out responsibilities effectively (see Fig. 9.1). To a significant extent, support for the development of these kinds of responsibilities takes place in the professions, associated disciplines, institutions, and workplaces, and this is the case in Norway as well. However, many of the reform initiatives pursued in Norway since 2006 have been designed specifically to help educators, schools, and school owners to develop the capacity to take responsibility for their roles in meeting the new education goals established after “the PISA shock.” In particular, national initiatives have included projects that have helped schools pilot new approaches to the development and use of formative assessments; partnerships between teacher training institutions, school owners, unions, and the

9 Building the Capacity for Collective Responsibility in Norway


Fig. 9.1 Accountability comes from the capacity to support a balance between answerability and responsibility

national government to encourage them to share information and work together to support and strengthen the teaching profession; programs to improve teacher preparation and professional development; new programs for school leaders; and the development of regional partnerships to support school evaluations. Thus, although the initial Norwegian reform strategies sought to establish the clear outcomes and monitoring mechanisms to promote answerability, the implementation of the 2006 reforms also embraced the critical need to support the development of the kind of professional judgment and knowledge-sharing so essential to responsibility. While these initiatives can be seen by the Norwegian authorities who designed them as supporting the exercise of personal, professional, and collective responsibility, it is important to note that critics can view the same initiatives as constraining their autonomy: as requiring individuals and schools to spend money on particular training programs, participate in specific kinds of activities, and behave in certain ways (Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, 2011). Nonetheless, these initiatives have a different emphasis than accountability policies like those of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation in the United States. The emphasis on rewards and consequences in policies like NCLB implies that educators and schools need to be motivated to do things they have been unwilling or unable to do. In contrast, the Norwegian reforms suggest that in order to assure that all students receive a quality education, individuals, groups, and organizations need to be answerable for making sure that students meet specific competence aims, but that those local actors can be trusted to monitor their performance and make adjustments as needed.

9.4 What Does It Take to Support Responsibility? Many of the initiatives following the Norwegian reforms in 2006 may be helping individuals and schools to develop the competence to act responsibly, but those efforts also made clear how much work needed to be done. That work involved efforts to establish the infrastructure (“technical capital”), develop the abilities and


T. Hatch

expertise (“human capital”), and to foster the relationships and access to resources and expertise (“social capital”) needed to generate and use information about student learning productively (Hatch, 2013b). The limits of the educational infrastructure in Norway and the need to develop technical, human, and social capital became apparent as soon as the efforts to develop the new national tests began. With only limited previous use of large-scale tests and assessments, the first implementation of the national tests in Norway in 2004 was judged by experts to be inadequate and unreliable (Elstad, Norvedt, & Turmo, 2009). Concerns about the quality of the tests were so serious that some of the initial test results were never released, and the government declared a “pause” in the national testing and no tests were administered in 2006. During the pause, a new framework along with a set of quality requirements was developed by an international group of experts to guide the development of new tests; and the test makers revised the tests substantially and, according to the experts, significantly upgraded the quality. While some argued for a continuation of the “pause”, the national tests were re-launched again in 2007, and continued to grow in technical sophistication and acceptance (Nusche et. al., 2011). The Tilsyn’s initial review of local education authorities also revealed the need to develop new systems, routines and procedures to support communication and information-sharing between schools, school leaders, school owners and the central government. In fact, the report of the first Tilsyn suggested that as many as 70% of municipalities surveyed did not fulfill the requirements for the evaluation and follow-up of schools (Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, 2006). In addition to responding to these infrastructure problems, following the Knowledge Promotion reforms of 2006, Norway has pursued a wide range of efforts to support the development of teachers and strengthen the teaching profession. These efforts focused particularly on changing a teacher education system in which, up until 2010, almost all teachers who completed Norwegian teacher education programs qualified to teach at almost any level, in any subject, from 1st grade to 10th grade. In a striking contrast to the demands for almost all teachers in higher-performing countries like Finland and Singapore to get a Master’s degree, the vast majority of teachers in Norway also got their teacher training as part of a four-year undergraduate or university college degree. After 2010, however, a series of changes have included requiring teacher candidates to get a Master’s Degree, with teacher education programs focused on elementary school (grades 1–7) or lower secondary school (grades 5–10) (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, 2018). A new emphasis on helping new teachers develop relevant subject-matter knowledge at each level was also established. The work to create an assessment and inspection infrastructure and strengthen teacher education in Norway, however, has also had to contend with the difficulty of establishing the relationships and the access to information and expertise that all educators and schools in the country need. Those difficulties stem from the demands of a widely-dispersed population with many geographically isolated regions and small communities. Thus, smaller communities, particularly those with only one school are unlikely to have much if any administrative structure beyond the school leader, and those municipal leaders are unlikely to have much, if any, expertise in

9 Building the Capacity for Collective Responsibility in Norway


education (Nusche et al. 2011). Smaller communities may also have had a more difficult time getting access to and attracting and retaining teachers. While the number of teachers who did not have a required degree was relatively small (ranging from 4% to 12% depending on the measure) when the reforms to teacher education were going into effect, those teachers were significantly more likely to teach in smaller communities (Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, 2011). Furthermore, members of those small schools and communities faced more significant hurdles in developing the kind of personal relationships and networks that could help them carry out the new policies and responsibilities. In particular, they were likely to have to travel much greater distances to get access to and to get connected with experts and others who can help them to meet their new assessment responsibilities. While educators in Finland face some of the same geographical conditions as their peers in Norway, the Norwegian authorities have never made the choice that the Finnish authorities did to consolidate control of the educational system or to centralize teacher education in a small number of university-connected programs. Instead, Norway has maintained a host of teacher education programs around the country that provide teachers for and serve those communities. Although this approach may provide opportunities for more local control and discretion, it may result in a weak network of formal and informal relationships like those that support collective work in the other countries. Furthermore, with the development of the North Sea oil fields and the growth of the Norwegian economy, Norway has been able to sustain this widely dispersed population; and with its somewhat isolated geography, Norway has not faced the same political pressures or the sustained threats to its borders that have contributed to the development of the centralized educational systems in Finland and Singapore.

9.5 Conclusion My experiences in Norway shows that accountability does not have to be synonymous with answerability and accountability policies do not have to be equated with strengthening the rewards and sanctions for particular behaviors or specific outcomes. One can be accountable for pursuing explicit goals and activities and for aspiring to broader purposes, ideals and expectations. Accordingly, educational improvement efforts need to build the capacity to balance the strengths and weaknesses of answerability and responsibility and deal with the side-effects that can come with ignoring one or the other. In Norway, some of the mechanisms to increase answerability have been put in place, but Norway’s reform initiatives have also begun to establish some of the infrastructure and support needed for more active promotion of individual and collective responsibility. Nonetheless, the Norwegian reforms entail a significant capacity development effort to make assessment—a previously unimportant aspect of schooling in Norway—a key part of enabling individuals, schools, and municipalities to carry out their responsibilities.


T. Hatch

Although I have argued that the decision not to establish rewards and sanctions is consistent with cultural values and societal practices that emphasize responsibility over answerability, there are other ways in which the new reforms may be out of alignment with other cultural and contextual factors in Norway. Alignment refers to the consistency between personal aspirations, the values of the domain, the roles and institutions in the field, and the interests of other stakeholders (Gardner, Csikszentmihalyi, & Damon, 2001). Even in well-aligned domains, inconsistencies and contradictions are possible, and, in Norway, improvement efforts may still create significant conflicts and contradictions for students, parents, educators, school owners and policymakers themselves. In particular, the efforts to emphasize basic skills in the elementary years may come into conflict with the values and assumptions underlying extensive parental leave policies, a limited emphasis on early education, the attention given to “non-academic” subjects, low levels of homework, and limited instructional time in elementary school that all suggest that childhood should be protected: children should have a chance to be with their families and their peers and to develop socially, emotionally, physically, and artistically not just academically. Consistent with this perspective, government policies treat learning as a life-long endeavor by placing much more attention on adult education than in countries like the United States. At the same time, any efforts to use assessments that might publicly differentiate among students or schools have to contend with the prohibitions against the use of any written marks before the end of 7th grade and the concerns about equity and equal treatment for all reflected in many aspects of the social-welfare system. Although these conflicts and contradictions may constrain future improvement efforts, many indicators suggest that the Norwegian education system is achieving many of the larger goals and purposes of Norwegian society. Over the past fifteen years, Norway’s PISA scores have gone up (OECD, 2016), but beyond that, a high percentage of the population successfully completes upper secondary schooling and many go on to complete tertiary education; adult literacy rates are quite high, and rates of participation in adult learning are also significantly higher than many other countries. Student engagement and student-teacher relations are much better than they are in many other countries, and Norway, like other Scandinavian countries, consistently ranks high on many measures of health and well-being (OECD, 2020). At the same time that concerns about economic performance have driven efforts to increase accountability in many countries, Norway’s oil-based economy continues to be one of the strongest in the world. And Norway has managed to do all with only recent efforts to develop an infrastructure for assessment and strengthen teacher education in a country with widely-dispersed social networks and few if any rewards or consequences for poor performance. In other words, the high-functioning society and relatively successful economy provide reinforcement to resist the very educational “improvements” that so many argue a successful economy requires. Under these conditions, debates about whether and how to change the educational system in Norway are likely to continue. Those debates, however, will take place within a context where education is seen as much more than an individual pursuit, but rather as a shared responsibility.

9 Building the Capacity for Collective Responsibility in Norway


Acknowledgments The research described in this chapter was supported by a Fulbright Fellowship. An early version of this chapter was presented as part of Mind, work, and life: A Festschrift on the Occasion of Howard Gardner’s 70th Birthday, edited by Mindy Kornhaber and Ellen Winner (Ediciones Mundi: Madrid).

References De Wolf, I., & Janssens, F. (2007). Effects and side effects of inspections and accountability in education: An overview of empirical studies. Oxford Review of Education, 33(3), 379–396. Ehren, M., & Visscher, A. (2008). The relationship between school inspections, school characteristics and school improvement. British Journal of Educational Studies, 56(2), 205–227. Elstad, E., Nordtvedt, G., & Turmo, A. (2009). The Norwegian assessment system. An accountability perspective. CADMO, 17(1), 89–103. Gardner, H., Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Damon, W. (2001). Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet. New York: Basic Books. Gregory, R. (2003). Accountability in modern government, In B.G Peters & J. Pierre, Handbook of Public Administration (pp. 557–68). London: Sage. Harmon, M. (1995). Responsibility as paradox: A critique of rational discourse on government. London: Sage. Hatch, T. (2013a). Beneath the surface of accountability: Answerability, responsibility and capacity building in recent educational reforms in Norway. Journal of Educational Change, 14(1), 1–15. Hatch, T. (2013b). Innovation at the core: What it really takes to improve classroom practice. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(3), 34–38. Koretz, D. M. (2003). Using multiple measures to address perverse incentives and score inflation. Educational Measurement, 22(2), 18–26. Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. (2011). OECD review on evaluation and assessment frameworks for improving school outcomes: Country background report for Norway. Oslo, Norway: Author. Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. (2006). The Education Mirror 2005. Oslo: Author. Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. (2018). Teacher Education 2025. National Strategy for Quality and Cooperation in Teacher Education. Oslo, Norway: Author. Nusche, E. L., Maxwell, W., & Shewbridge, C. (2011). OECD reviews of evaluation and assessment in education: Norway. Paris, France: OECD. OECD (2016). PISA 2015 Results (Volume I): Excellence and Equity in Education. Paris, France: Author. OECD (2020). Norway. OECD Better Life Index. http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/nor way/. Verhoest, K. (2005). The impact of contractualization on control and accountability in governmentagency relations: The case of Flanders (Belgium). In G. Drewry, C. Grieve, & T. Tanquerel (Eds.) Contracts, performance and accountability (pp. 135–156). EGPA/IOS.

Thomas Hatch is a Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and Co-Director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST). He previously served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He is also the founder of internationalednews.com, a twitter feed and blog that provides access to news and research on educational change around the world. His current work focuses on efforts to create new schools and more powerful learning experiences in both “higher” and “lower-performing” education systems. His books include Managing to Change and Into the Classroom.

Chapter 10

Education in Wales: Attempting Systemic Reform to Combat Underachievement, 2000–2018 David Reynolds and Judy Mckimm

10.1 Introduction Wales historically has been a nation that recognised the power of education to change lives. It’s Labour Movement and Trade Unions were notably keen on raising money from the Welsh working class to support Higher Education and Universities—in the legendary ‘Miners’ Pennies’ of historical accounts. It provided a high proportion of grammar school places to ensure that, in the views of the time, all children with talent would have it developed. And it provided a rich cultural heritage through the medium of the English and Welsh languages over time, particularly in the bilingual society developed rapidly over the last two decades (see Reynolds, 2008, 2016 for detailed accounts). However, the spread of International achievement surveys, like PISA from the OECD, exposed multiple problems and issues concerning the effectiveness and efficiency of the Welsh system. In 2007, Wales performed worst of all of the UK home nations in the PISA tests, a performance which worsened in 2010 and which was maintained at this relatively poor level for 2013 & 2016 testing cycles. Subsequently, it would be difficult to find an educational system anywhere in the world that has been changed in its formal structures more than that of Wales in the last two decades. Governance changed—with the devolution of full powers over education to Wales from 1999/2000 academic year. National satisfaction with the system was replaced by dismay after the poor PISA results of 2007 and, much more, by those of 2010. Policies changed from what might be called ‘procedurism’ to, from 2011, simultaneous supply side/demand side policies virtually identical to New Labour English policies from 1997 to 2010 (Reynolds, 2008). And more recently

D. Reynolds (B) · J. Mckimm Swansea University, Swansea, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_10



D. Reynolds and J. Mckimm

there have been enhanced hopes that the present distinctively ‘Welsh’ way forward expressed in The National Mission may be proving productive. However, there are a number of further aspects of the organisation, culture and traditions of the system in Wales that may have limited the capacity of the system to improve both results and young person’s life chances in recent years, many of which resonate in accounts of the difficulty of obtaining educational change from other societies. It is with this paradox of substantial reform activity but rather less marked Welsh impact that we begin this chapter, before moving on to consider what the lessons of Wales may be for educational change attempts elsewhere and what new policies and approaches are suggested by Welsh experiences.

10.2 The Limited Take up of Effectiveness/Improvement Knowledge Internationally, effectiveness and improvement in education emerged historically as an academic field due to a number of factors—there were for example transplants of knowledge from the burgeoning industrial/commercial leadership literature of the 1970’s and 1980’s. This early focus was primarily around good management (echoing ‘new managerialism’) which led to the school effectiveness field emerging from the 1980’s which, simply, swept the planet, with what appeared to be easy to understand and easy to implement ‘factors’ that might create effective schools and, from the 2000’s, effective teachers. Wales provided one of the two foundational school effectiveness studies in the work of the author in Wales in the Rhondda, (Reynolds, 1976) and there was additionally that of Rutter et al. (1979) in London. School Improvement as a field was historically much less emphasised in Wales than the rest of the UK, in these early years. The findings of the educational effectiveness paradigm, as summarised in reviews, suggested the following factors to be important (see Reynolds et al., 2014; Chapman et al., 2016; Hopkins et al., 2014): • The nature of the leadership provided by the Headteacher: with more effective schools having better Head/Deputy Head relations, and having a management style and structure that involved Heads setting goals, establishing directions and possessing that most popular of 2000’s management terms, a ‘mission’, but having also an active involvement of staff in planning the means to achieve school goals through staff involvement in decision making. The effective school had a balance, then, in its management between vertical push and horizontal pull, between laterality or diffusion, and centralisation (Bush, 2003). Indeed it possessed a balance between managerialism and collegiality that was ensured by having elements of both present at the same time; • Academic push or academic ‘press’: involving high expectations of what students could achieve, utilising strategies that ensured large amounts of learning time (such as well-managed lesson transitions), utilising homework to expand learning

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time to involve parents, and entering a high proportion of students for public examinations to ensure they remain ‘hooked’ in their final years; Parental involvement: both to ensure the participation of significant others in children’s lives in the rewarding of achievement and effort, and also to ensure that in cases of difficulty, the parents would, if it is appropriate to do so, support the school against the child; Student involvement: both in the learning situation within the classroom (though here the involvement needed to be within a firm and organised structure) and within the school in societies, sports teams, leadership positions, representative positions and the like; Organisational control of students: which was in turn generated by cohesion, constancy and consistency within the school. Organisational cohesion was likely to be enhanced by both planning and coordination of school activities, and by a degree of ownership of the school by the staff itself, to be generated by a good flow of management information and by procedures that involved staff in the organisation; Organisational consistency: across lessons in the same subjects, across different subjects in the same Years and across different Years in the student-learning experiences they offered. This was clearly likely to be facilitated by development planning and by those forms of professional development which involve utilising members of staff as ‘buddies’ (peer mentors) to each other, in which observation of each other’s practice ensures that the range of individual practice is made clearer to organisational members, to be acted upon; Organisational constancy: the final requirement to ensure effectiveness, which resulted from a limited turnover in the people who pass through the lives of young people. Frequent changes in the people who inhabited authority positions in young people’s lives were seen as likely to make their socialisation into the values and standards of adult society significantly more problematic by affecting the capacity of nurturing relationships to develop.

And, ‘piggy backed’ upon these ‘effectiveness’ factors by the 1990’s, were the ‘improvement strategies’ from the school improvement literature which suggested in those days simple—indeed simplistic—ways of attempting to ensure that the knowledge of ‘what worked’ reached schools, using conventional knowledge transplants to professionals. Crucially, in all these ‘effectiveness’ and ‘improvement’ studies, educational leadership—the good Headteacher particularly—was writ large, albeit from a leadercentric position, but these studies did not have the popularity in Wales they had in England and, to an extent, Ireland, so ‘leadership’ was not potentiated as a Welsh interest. Whilst the effectiveness insights were sometimes taken up at school and regional level, at national level they were not fully implemented. Perhaps what was in its early formulations ‘top down’ leadership, before the more ‘lateral’ versions and ‘distributed’ emphasis of the school effectiveness field in the 2000’s, did not fit a Welsh society historically somewhat distrustful of strong State solutions. Maybe,


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the ‘counter cultural’ ethos of parts of Wales had a distrust of what seemed to be conventional educational solutions/wisdom brought in from elsewhere. So there was little in Wales that ever matched the popularity of educational effectiveness and related leadership concerns in England. There was not until recently a Welsh equivalent of the English National College for School Leadership. There cannot have been more than a handful of secondary and primary Headteachers out of over 22,000 in England that missed one of the literally hundreds of ‘effectiveness’ ‘road shows’ on in service days that English educational school effectiveness and improvement researchers did across the (in those days) approximately 100 Local Educational Authorities of England. This cemented ‘effectiveness’ factors into professional and academic minds. The same thing also happened for Assessment for Learning (AFL) in England, which morphed from the educational effectiveness studies again into a major educational policy concern and major school-designed and owned interventions that were never apparent in Wales. There was also by contrast heavy criticism of school effectiveness in Wales, particularly by Gorard (1998, 2002) who acquired considerable publicity for his attacks. And the Cardiff University ‘marque’ or ‘brand’ of educational research had always emphasised non-school (i.e. sociocultural) determinants of educational outcomes, not educational ones (Rees et al., 1997; Rees, 2002). For whatever reasons, educational effectiveness as a concept and as practice was not centre stage in Wales. Other sets of Welsh policies came and went over these thirty years—a focus upon curriculum reform, with the Welsh Baccalaureate and the differentiated curricular ‘Pathways’ within and between schools, and in the case of the Foundation Phase different curricular and to an extent pedagogical arrangements. The ‘demand side’ policies of enhancing parental choice through generating different ‘types’ of schools—like the Academy Chains of England—were not prevalent in Wales, with a continued commitment to Welsh ‘supply side’ policies, allied with the publication of school achievement results on the ‘demand side’. What was also less prevalent in Wales, in the area of educational and other policy areas elsewhere, was the ‘capacity building’ of the profession and of senior professionals within it. Many societies across the world tried in the 1990’s and 2000’s to ensure that novel bodies of knowledge, new ideas, new ways of transmitting the old ideas or new reviews of the existing knowledge around schools’ education were brought to their professional leaders and others to improve their practice—the English Literacy and Numeracy Programmes, the National College for School Leadership publications, and the conferences and training programmes you could have found in all Australian States, together with multiple less developed societies from Malaysia to Singapore to Chile, were all examples of this. This neglect meant that when Wales followed the international trend to develop ‘ownership’ of educational policies and practices by professionals involving, critically, senior professionals such as Headteachers, it was developing a ‘self-improving system’ that was knowledge-deficient. This particularly affected secondary schools, as evidenced by successive ESTYN reports.

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10.3 The Downsides of Welsh Political Involvement in Education The involvement of politicians in education and the pervasiveness of educational discussion within the political sphere is something which often occurs when educational systems are under performing. In the UK, it happened in England and is happening in Scotland currently. Historically, poor performance in PISA launched national debates in Germany, The United States and Australia to name but a few countries. The benefits of this are that countries can see and appreciate the importance of their educational systems in the cut and thrust of the political debate about them. Remedies of poor performance can be trialled and utilised. However, Wales suggests a significant down side to this kind of phenomenon: • Politicians desire to be “doing new things” to deal with apparent educational problems may lead to a lack of syncronisation with things already tried; • There may be duplication of existing change attempts, as with the neglect in Wales of the School Effectiveness Framework of 2007 in the somewhat similar National Mission of 2017/18; • Educational remedies may in these circumstance be somewhat simplistic, given that politicians may possess less of the complicated domain knowledge that educationalists have; • There may be a focus on rapid results to justify and validate the political involvement; • There may be a presentation of the educational life of Wales as being more ineffective, or inadequate, to justify the political involvement; • And when a new involvement reflects different political influences there may be “flip flopping” in policies that is destructive.

10.4 The Reliance on External–to–Wales Solutions The speed with which the PISA results in Wales were publicised and pervaded educational discussion, particularly since the very poor results of 2010, made it difficult to do anything other than take “off the shelf” a series of educational programmes and interventions as the models for educational change from countries and individuals outside Wales. Educational research in general in Wales is much less prevalent than that in England, is less well developed if one looks at English and Welsh performance in things like the REF assessment of research quality and is less innovative in its thinking. Given the need for rapid political solutions to the perceived crisis in education in Wales, the careful cultivating of R & D, their testing and their roll out all promises a less fertile kind of Welsh effectiveness and improvement work than that which seemingly could be built on transplants. The role of “New Labour” politicians like Michael Barber in advising Welsh Government in 2010–2012, the use of Graham Donaldson from Scotland to replicate in Wales what he generated


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in Scotland, the use of Mel Ainscow to do in Wales something rather similar to his “school to school” work from various English regions, all show a tendency to rely on the already available policy and practice suites, rather than develop “made in Wales” ones. Our discussion about Wales so far suggests a fairly hefty set of limitations to it’s school improvement capacity and competencies. We have argued for a number of things to be in evidence in Wales and many other societies, namely the lack of use of effectiveness/improvement knowledge, the stultifying effects of the intense politicisation of education and the reliance upon solutions from settings that are not Wales, which risks the generation of less than powerful Welsh impact. We now turn to the kinds of directions that effectiveness and improvement research and practice may sensibly move in, both in Wales and other comparable societies, if it is to have “system changing” and “society changing” impact of the kind needed to improve children’s Life chances in Wales.

10.5 Strategy One—Focus on Within-School Variation Educational policies internationally over the last thirty years have used ‘the school’ as the unit of analysis, accountability, improvement and development (Reynolds & Kelly, 2014). Indeed, ‘school to school’ policies have been particularly popular in Wales as seen in the ‘Schools Challenge Cymru’ work of Ainscow and colleagues (2000). School related policies are of course linked to the need to operate simultaneous ‘supply side/demand side’ policies whereby educational standards are ‘levered up’ by creating quasi markets in which educational consumers ‘choose’ schools, and by educational administrators intervening with them and their processes from the ‘supply’ end. ‘School centric’ approaches may be less useful in Wales than elsewhere, however: • The variation in ‘raw’ results in Wales seems historically to have been less than in England, with historically no ‘100% 5 or more GCSE’s Grade A-C’ schools in Wales and several hundred in England (involving some of their Academy and Grammar Schools); • The geographical distribution of schools and job opportunities for parents in Wales means that, particularly for students in secondary schools, there may be no realistic choice of schools for parents to operate the market. People from Llanfyllin are not going to go over the Berwyn’s to Bala for the secondary school Ysgol y Berwyn, given the distance and given the difficulty of using the road in winter! And most parents’ jobs are tied to a geographic region, traditionally around higher density populations. There is no educational market that can work, in this case and others. It may be more profitable for Wales to look at the operation of our ‘within school’ markets, rather than the ‘between school’ as it were, and Wales does exhibit high levels of ‘within school’ variation in student achievement by comparison with

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other societies (in the PISA studies for example). This of course reflects upon the comprehensive nature of our secondary provision and the rightly inclusive policies concerning school intakes of children with additional learning needs. However, the variance ‘within’ schools is even higher in Wales than other ‘comprehensive’ systems (Reynolds, 2007) and higher than societies of similar socioeconomic composition. This may reflect more on the historic lack of attention to middle management training for Heads of Department/Faculty Leaders, the absence of national provision on leadership until now, the lack of effective management practices within some schools, and the relative lack of effectiveness of secondary education in Wales generally. This has led to a system that has ‘disaggregated’ into its variable parts by school, by Departments/Faculties within schools and by individuals in schools. Such disaggregation runs counter to the view of the school as a ‘whole learning organisation’ (after Senge (1991) revisited recently by Westover (2018) in terms of US schools) as noted in the OECD Rapid Policy Assessment report mentioned earlier. Interestingly, we noted earlier Wales was the site of the innovative High Reliability Schools project in Neath Port Talbot Local Authority, which developed mechanisms and strategies for schools to become skilled at ‘benchmarking’ against their own good practice in their exemplary Departments (Stringfield, Reynolds and Schaffer, 2008, 2012). This work was carried on in England in the pioneering Within School Variation (WSV) project of the 2000’s New Labour government, and indeed a whole suite of materials and approaches were developed as a ‘toolkit’ that could be used to make all schools’ best practice their standard practice (see Reynolds, 2007 for an overview). The commitment to learning from any within-school variation in individual schools was one of the characteristics of the Welsh School Effectiveness Framework (SEF) of 2008, but has been subsequently strangely neglected in Wales, although these ideas have surfaced again recently. Sadly though, ‘middle leader-teachers’ (often seen as the lynch-pin and key change agents in organisations, see Priestley et al., 2012) do not appear to be currently in the consciousness of policy makers in Wales (or the OECD), unless they are aspiring to be, or are acting, Head Teachers. It may be of course true that there are notable barriers to dealing with WSV: • Weak school management might find it hard to confront the issue and to develop mechanisms to learn from best practice. • False modesty exists on the part of effective teachers/Departments perhaps associated with a misplaced egalitarianism that does not reward helping other practitioners who are less effective because this would mean marking the less effective out and labelling them. • In small schools the range of excellence between teachers may be less and therefore more difficult to use, and one/two-person departments may make performance evaluation by subject a highly personal activity. • The absence of systems to ‘buddy’ the less good with the better, because of the difficulty of the intense micro-political issues in this area.


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• Budget/time constraints that make it difficult to create these skill sharing systems since they require time, space and buy-out of teaching for observation/debriefing etc. • The difficulty of separating out the personal reasons for some teachers’/Departments’ more effective practice from the methods that are being used, since all factors appear confounded with each other. • The difficulty in secondary schools of getting Departments to see any utility in swapping practice when the subject cultures of Departments are so strong (for example ‘it is not like that in art!’). • The practice of using exceptional individuals as the models for others when the exceptional may often be idiosyncratic, and utilising their character/personality as much as any distinctive leadership, management or instructional methods. The exceptional may also be so far in advance of the remainder of the staff in a school that they cannot actually be imitated and are therefore poor role models. But the benefits of the WSV approach are as follows: • While policies for what happens in individual classrooms are difficult to implement, monitor and evaluate, this might be feasible at the subject Departmental level, academic Year level in a secondary school or the Year level in a primary school. Targeting these levels means that policy can get far closer to what ought to be the real focus, the classroom level, than if it only addresses the school level. • While not every school is effective, all schools will have some practices that are relatively more effective than elsewhere in the school. Every school can therefore look for generally applicable good practice from within its own internal conditions. This fits with the concept of continual improvement in terms of embedding an improvement culture through identifying and sharing good practice and building upon it. • It might well be that one limitation to whole-school self-evaluation and improvement is that headteachers are often overloaded, because of having to deal with problems that should fall to middle managers, and so lack the time to think strategically. Targeting sub-groups within the school in a devolved or distributed model of leadership could get round that. • Within-school units of policy intervention such as Years or subjects are smaller and, therefore, potentially more open to being changed than those at whole-school level. • Teachers in general, and those teachers in less effective schools in particular, seem to be more influenced by classroom-based policies that are close to their focal concerns of teaching and curriculum, and less by policies that are managerial and orientated to the school level. WSV policies take us there. So, a focus upon WSV moves us closer to a world where no school needs to wait for Welsh Government or another school to help it out, since it can help itself by looking at its own best people and learning from them. This world is one where a school’s ineffective Departments and teachers cannot use excuses such as “it’s the pupils” for their performance, since they have generally the same pupils. This world

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is one where excellence is regarded not as something to be hidden, but something to be learned from, for the benefit of all. This world could be attained, quickly. And may help us deliver the ‘self-improving system’.

10.6 Strategy Two: Focus upon Instructional Leadership In a powerful statement in launching her Chief Inspector’s 2017 Annual Report last year, the Chief Inspector said that teaching was the ‘weakest area’ of provision ‘across most areas of provision’ of education in Wales. Given that the quality of teaching is—after the quality of school leadership—the most important factor in determining how children do, what we need to do is to use the latter (leadership) to potentiate the former (teaching). Frankly, there is little evidence that we have been doing that, although we may be starting to. The problems in this area are multiple: • Wales has historically possessed a ‘craft’ orientation to teaching rather than a ‘research based’ one, meaning that neither teachers or leaders in our Initial Teacher Education (ITE) provision may have related to the massive knowledge base now available in the ‘effective teaching’ area (Muijs & Reynolds, 2018); • Training in classroom observation may be somewhat limited too, making it difficult to measure where teachers are in their practices; • The discourse of ‘schooling’ rather than ‘teaching’ has become prevalent in Wales, with the former talked about much more than the latter. Given that ‘Teachers Make a Difference’ was the title of Leighton Andrews ‘twenty point plan’ in 2011, the contents have remarkably little to say about teaching (Andrews, 2014). Given it is likely that teachers ‘core’ professional and personal commitments in Wales are more to the curriculum and to teaching their children than to the organisational entity of their schools, it may be that they have not found messages from Welsh Government that have resonated, until now perhaps. But we are fortunate, though, because although we are late on the scene in Wales, many of the factors that we need to explore to deliver ‘Instructional Leadership’ are now in place: • A considerable volume of research exists upon the benefits of CPD, and on what the characteristics of effective CPD are that can resource instructionally based leadership. Professional Learning more generally is now a thriving area of research/practice (Desimone, 2002, 2009) not only in the educational sector, but across public, private and third sectors; • Knowledge about ‘effective teaching’ (‘facilitating learning’) is now considerable, particularly in the areas related to the conventional ‘direct instruction’ model that formed the basis of most of the reform initiatives in teaching methods internationally in the early 2000’s.


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• Knowledge about more advanced and recently developed methods such as small group, collaborative teaching and peer tutoring is now reliable and increasingly used internationally (Reynolds, 2010); • Approaches about ‘metacognitive’ skills concerning the improvement of the students’ knowledge of cognition and the self-regulation of cognition are now quite well developed, and so are training approaches which attempt to help teachers embed the skills into day to day teaching rather than use separate distinct programmes (Muijs et al., 2014). This includes the use of learning technologies in facilitating learning and engagement; • Models and theories about effective teaching, learning and assessment, from those such as Kleime, Creemers, Kyriakides and Hattie, are now increasing in number, all with the behaviours of teachers in classrooms at their heart (Creemers & Kyriakides, 2007). • And the rapid development of cognitive neuroscience is developing insights in such areas as the role and functioning of the memory, the modular and pattern making role of the brain and the crucial role of the emotional components of learning (Kelly, 2008). It may be that a further focus upon ‘teaching’, not just as a slogan in Ministerial speeches but in the actuality of focusing on our teachers revisiting and developing the knowledge bases that help facilitate effective learning, might help re-motivate the teaching force in Wales.

10.7 Strategy Three: Ensure Effective Improvement Is Contextually Variable Historically, neither educational effectiveness nor educational improvement as disciplines had much to say about whether ‘what works’ differs in different kinds of schools, in different kinds of areas, other than research on schools as micro cultures reflecting wider political forces (e.g. Ball, 2012). Researchers usually attempted to show regularities across samples of schools rather than look at whether there were differences between schools in their practices in terms of their socioeconomic conditions, rurality, religiosity, or whatever. In the 1980’s and 1990’s indeed there was a flurry of interest in this, with arguments that certain schools needed to be more concerned with ‘buffering’ themselves from their communities in high poverty areas, and that to be effective in these areas they should be more lateral and more ‘communal’ in their management arrangements because of the need to protect against stress by means of mutual support (Hallinger & Murphy, 1985, 1986). But the 2000’s saw a marked return to ‘universal what works’ approaches. Numerous factors in the politics of educational research appear to be the explanation for this situation whereby ‘context’ was neglected:

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• The desire in the 1990’s and 2000’s to generate a ‘normal science’ of agreed findings about ‘what works’ led to literature reviews that neglected the studies which were aberrant in their findings in favour of emphasising regularity of findings (e.g. Reynolds, 2010). These were the age of the ‘lists’, or ‘factors’, or ‘correlates’. • The desire to ensure policymakers’ take up of effectiveness knowledge in societies such as the United Kingdom led to a downplaying of the issue of possible contextual effects, because of the perception that policymakers (and politicians for that matter) would find the possible need to do different things in different schools to achieve effectiveness and improvement somewhat ‘inconvenient’. ‘It all depends’ is not a phrase the politician finds easy to use. The popularity of medical science also led to a focus upon the need to establish technologies of effectiveness that were the same everywhere, ‘wherever and whenever we chose’ as Slavin (1996) argued. • The enhanced use of ‘meta-analysis’ encouraged a focus upon ‘whole sample’ analysis to keep sample sizes high, and discouraged disaggregation by social background that would lower sample size. The absence of ‘context specificity’ is seen in the school improvement field too. The need for different improvement strategies to be determined by the level of effectiveness of a school, the trajectory of a school, and the culture of a school had been a focus in the 1990’s and early 2000’s (Hopkins, 2003; Hopkins & Reynolds, 2001), but seems much less prevalent now. Indeed, school improvement has now become increasingly interested in the ‘high level architecture’ of policy at national level linked to the PISA studies, and has been more and more espousing ‘one right way’ educational policies in all countries utterly independent of national cultures because of this (Sahlberg, 2011). May, Huff and Goldring (2012), in an American study that failed to establish strong links between Principal behaviours and attributes in terms of relating the time spent by Principals on various activities to student achievement over time, concluded that ‘… contextual factors not only have strong influences on student achievement but also exert strong influences on what actions Principals need to take to successfully improve teaching and learning in their schools.’ (p.435). The authors rightly conclude in a memorable paragraph that (also p.435): ‘… our statistical models are designed to detect only systemic relationships that appear consistently across the full sample of students and schools. (…)… if the success of a Principal requires a unique approach to leadership given a school’s specific context, then simple comparisons of time spent on activities will not reveal leadership effects on student performance’.


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10.8 Strategy Four—Develop Educational Thought Leadership on “Big Picture” Issues Discussion of education in Wales has been somewhat simplistic, reflecting on a population that constitutes probably a weak ‘civil society’. In Wales we have little equivalent of the ferment of policy/practice ideas that has existed in Scotland where there are quality newspapers that cover education in depth and with rigour, together with a political atmosphere in which there is rethinking and re-imagining taking place about all aspects of society. But in UK higher education (e.g. Grieves, 2018) and in healthcare (e.g. Midgley, 2017), the concept of ‘thought leadership’ is becoming more widespread as an approach with models being developed and tested. Put simply, thought leadership can be vested in an individual, group or organisation and relies on an acknowledgment of expertise and authority, a willingness to use that expertise to challenge assumptions and the development of ideas to improve or develop the organisation and those within it. Thought leadership therefore requires a safe, thinking space, facilitated by ‘experts’ where ‘fierce conversations’ can be held. Such spaces enable stakeholders to tussle with ‘wicked’ problems within complex, changing environments (Obolensky, 2017) and help devise solutions and ways forward. In Wales we have a number of questions that could be interestingly explored in such a ‘space’, such as: • Wales retains a commitment to the homogenous, ‘common’ or comprehensive school in a society that is increasingly heterogeneous, while many societies have experimented with more diverse and variegated systems. Should Wales experiment in this way? • Policy documents in Wales talk repeatedly of our schools as ‘community schools’. What exactly does this mean, in theory and practice? Getting synergy between educational approaches and those related to the community is important and the potential effects on children would be additive, but do we have the blueprints of what this might look like in terms of distinct educational/community processes? • The ‘Donaldson Reforms’ clearly imply new teaching and learning practices in schools, given the wide range of outcomes that will be expected from schools in Wales in future. From where might these practices be conceptualised, operationalized and delivered? However, the effects of the hegemony of Labourist thinking and the absence of any well thought out alternatives of quality from other political homes mean that educational discussion in Wales is somewhat sterile and lacking in passion and originality. Thinking about alternative visions that might motivate our teachers in Wales in the way that the ‘Donaldson’ reforms have clearly done is important. • Wales is notable for the very large numbers of teaching assistants in our schools, especially our secondary schools, a factor that is known to have spooked the delegates on the OECD 2014 visitation. What is the upside and downside of this? If the downside is the substantial complexity of Welsh learning environments, how can we help the teaching profession cope with this?

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• Wales has an increasing number of all-age schools that appear to have interesting effects upon their students and communities. Is there an effect where all the parents/carers in a community—not just some - meet outside the schools to collect their children at the end of a day? Does the Welsh language stand a better chance when the linguistic balance of schools reflects (younger) Welsh speakers more? Do interactions between the older and younger children create positive peer interactions more than do those of children of more similar ages in separate primary and secondary schools? All-age schools may be that apparent rarity in life, something that joins the Foundation Phase and the Welsh Baccalaureate as one of our notable successes. It seems they need our attention and research.

10.9 Strategy Five—Learn from Thinking in Non Educational Sectors on “Leadership” The field of ‘leadership’ is rapidly changing in certain areas of ‘leadership practices’. Many leadership programmes have moved beyond the charting and induction of simplistic managerial competencies, and are concerned with developing informed leaders, who are aware of (and able to) manage, lead and follow in terms of themselves (the intrapersonal level), others (the interpersonal level) and the organisation/system level (McKimm & O’Sullivan, 2016; Swanwick & McKimm, 2014). Such leaders are aware of relevant leadership/management theory, models and concepts and, more crucially, can apply these directly to their practice and context to add value and improve outcomes. Learning from the work done in diverse sectors and contexts (business, healthcare, higher education, third sector, etc.) is essential and will enable educational leadership development in Wales to be highly contemporary and topical. Some of the key learning lessons that the most effective leadership development progammes have in common are: • They are programmatic, working with current and aspiring leaders, not simply in one-off workshops (although some are useful) but over the longer time: ‘leadership is a journey, not a destination; a marathon, not a sprint’ (George, 2015). • Theory rich formulations that enable leadership practitioners to link different ‘correlates’ together; • Field based involvement that exposes leadership trainees to diverse relations in placements and facilitates reflection and discussion; • Multidisciplinary content that puts together knowledge from any source or paradigm that may help improve practice; • A focus upon transformation rather than ‘incremental’, social engineering based change, with an understanding of how change processes operate in a complex world; • Cohorts of students working collaboratively together under a shared, collaborative or collective leadership model;


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• An attempt to generate leadership trainees who can negotiate the complex interpersonal and political worlds that leadership in organisations has to contend with; • A focus upon the values that must underpin leadership behaviours and practice if it is to be reliable: helping them to become authentic, value-led leaders; • A focus upon personal skills such as emotional intelligence, sensibility, resilience, self-awareness; • A focus upon how leadership is, more than anything, the capacity to inspire followership, coupled with an understanding of when, where and how management, leadership and followership activities and skills are required; • Vision setting, although not the ‘visions that blind’ that emanate from poor communication. There is work in progress in Wales, for example on different, potentially transformative kinds of leadership training for health professionals, and numerous other provider groups. Is it not a time to systematically conceptualise some ‘new’ practices in Educational Leadership that would relate to the ‘new’, radically ‘new’ educational system that many societies create?

10.10 Strategy Six: Impact upon Reform Reliability as Well as Validity The reliable implementation of ideas about education in Wales is something that has proven difficult to attain, many would say. Many ideas arise ‘in theory’ but do not ‘root’ in practice—like tri-level reform in the 2000’s or the School Effectiveness Framework of 2007/8. In a system of multiple autonomies like Wales, and of multiple levels of the educational system where new ideas and practices may reliably/unreliably ‘root’, it is possible for practices to have little positive effect because their unreliability of implementation puts a ceiling on their effects—their validity, therefore, is determined by their reliability. And when policies are unreliably implemented then they can be easily re-launched under new labels because they have never actually ever been truly ‘done’. Professional Learning communities were interesting but partially implemented, and now are followed by the ‘school as a learning organisation initiative’ with which it shares certain concerns, but historical partial implementation of both programmes increases the heterogeneity of schools and increases the chance of that justified cry from schools and teachers that ‘we have already done this!’ Rather than generate further variability in processes and philosophies on top of already preexisting variability (reflecting variable take up of past policies that nothing was reliably done about remedying) maybe Wales could consider retrenching to a smaller number of policy concerns that are regarded as ‘core’ and where there is fidelity of implementation. One can see this happening in the reduction in the number of policy income streams which have funding attached to them, but this does not

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necessarily spread into a general Welsh concern to avoid policy unreliability. Reform unreliability is the enemy of reform, and the enemy of children’s development, and one suspects that we have rather too much of it in Wales.

References Ainscow, M., Beresford, J., Harris, A., Hopkins, D., Southworth, G., & West, M. (2000). Creating the conditions for school improvement. London: David Fulton Publishers. Andrews, L. (2014). Ministering to education: A reformer reports. Parthian Books. Ball, S. J. (2012). The micro politics of the school. London: Routledge. Bush, T. (2003). Theories of educational leadership and management. London: Sage. Chapman, C., Muijs, D., Reynolds, D., Sammons, P., & Teddlie, C. (Eds.). (2016). The international handbook of educational effectiveness and improvement: Research, policy, and practice. London: Routledge. Creemers, B., & Kyriakides, L. (2007). The dynamics of educational effectiveness: A contribution to policy, practice and theory in contemporary schools. London: Routledge. Desimone, L. (2002). How can comprehensive school reform models be successfully implemented? Review of Educational Research, 72(3), 433–479. Desimone, L. M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38(3), 181–199. George, B. (2015). Discover your true north. New York: Wiley. Gorard, S. (1998). ’Schooled to fail’? Revisiting the Welsh school-effect. Journal of Education Policy, 13(1), 115–124. Gorard, S. (2002). Education and social justice. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Grieves, K. (2018). Generating bespoke value and impact evidence to inform a thought leadership approach to service engagement at The University of Sunderland. Performance Measurement and Metrics, 19(1), 53–65. Hallinger, P., & Murphy, J. (1985). Assessing the instructional management behavior of principals. The Elementary School Journal, 86(2), 217–247. Hallinger, P., & Murphy, J. F. (1986). The social context of effective schools. American Journal of Education, 94(3), 328–355. Hopkins, D., & Reynolds, D. (2001). The past, present and future of school improvement: Towards the third age. British Educational Research Journal, 27(4), 459–475. Hopkins, D. (2003). School improvement for real. London: Routledge. Hopkins, D., Stringfield, S., Harris, A., Stoll, L., & Mackay, T. (2014). School and system improvement: A narrative state-of-the-art review. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), 257–281. Kelly, P. (2008). Making minds: What’s wrong with education and what should we do about it? London: Routledge. May, H., Huff, J., & Goldring, E. (2012). A longitudinal study of principals’ activities and student performance. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 23(4), 417–439. McKimm, J., & O’sullivan, H. (2016). When I say… leadership. Medical Education, 50(9), 896897. Midgley, M. (2017). Thought leadership. Journal of Healthcare Risk Management, 37(1), 5. Muijs, D., Kyriakides, L., van der Werf, G., Creemers, B., Timperley, H., & Earl, L. (2014). State of the art–teacher effectiveness and professional learning. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), 231–256. Muijs, D., & Reynolds, D. (2018). Effective teaching. London: Sage. Obolensky, N. (2017). Complex adaptive leadership: Embracing paradox and uncertainty. London: Routledge.


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Priestley, M., Edwards, R., Priestley, A., & Miller, K. (2012). Teacher agency in curriculum making: Agents of change and spaces for manoeuvre. Curriculum Inquiry, 42(2), 191–214. Rees, G. (2002). Devolution and the restructuring of post-16 education and training in the UK. Devolution in Practice, London: IPPR, 104–114. Rees, G., Fevre, R., Furlong, C. J., & Gorard, S. (1997). History, place and the learning society: towards a sociology of lifetime learning. Journal of Education Policy, 12(6), 485–497. Reynolds, D. (1976). The delinquent school. In P. Woods (Ed.) The process of schooling. 217229. London: Routlege. Reynolds, D. (2007). Schools learning from their best: The Within School Variation (WSV) project. Nottingham: NCSL. Reynolds, D. (2008). New Labour, education and Wales: the devolution decade. Oxford Review of Education, 34(6), 753–765. Reynolds, D., Sammons, P., De Fraine, B., Van Damme, J., Townsend, T., Teddlie, C., et al. (2014). Educational effectiveness research (EER): A state-of-the-art review. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), 197–230. Reynolds, D., & Kelly, A. (2014). Accountability and the meaning of ‘success’ in education systems and STEM subjects: A Report to the Royal Society. London: The Royal Society. Rutter, M., Maughan, B., Mortimore, P., Ouston, J., & Smith, A. (1979). Fifteen thousand hours: Secondary schools and their effects on children. London: Open Books. Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finish lessons. New York: Teacher College Press. Senge, P. M. (1991). The fifth discipline, the art and practice of the learning organization. Performance + Instruction, 30(5), 27–37. Slavin, R. E. (1996). Education for all. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger. Stringfield, S., Reynolds, D., & Schaffer, E. C. (2008). Improving secondary students’ academic achievement through a focus on reform reliability: 4-and 9-year findings from the High Reliability Schools project. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 19(4), 409–428. Stringfield, S., Reynolds, D., & Schaffer, E. (2012). Making best practice standard—and lasting. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(1), 45–51. Swanwick, T., & McKimm, J. (2014). Faculty development for leadership and management. Faculty Development in the Health Professions (pp. 53–78). Dordrecht: Springer. Westover, R. (2018). Perceptions of learning organisations: Elementary teacher versus site leader perceptions. (Doctorial Dissertation, University Of La Verne).

David Reynolds is a world leading expert in school effectiveness and teaching effectiveness. He is internationally known for his research in both research fields and was instrumental in founding the ‘International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement’ (ICSEI) over three decades ago. He is an honorary life member of ICSEI and has held Professorial positions at a number of Universities, most recently Swansea University. Professor Reynolds has lectured, advised and/or researched in more than 70 countries over his career and has worked as a consultant with governments and government agencies. Judy Mckimm Judy’s current role is Director of Strategic Educational Development and Professor of Medical Education in the College of Medicine, Swansea University. From 2011– 2014, she was Dean of Medical Education at Swansea and before that worked in New Zealand from 2007–2011, at the University of Auckland and as Pro-Dean, Health and Social Care, Unitec Institute of Technology. Judy initially trained as a nurse and has an academic background in social and health sciences, education and management. She was Director of Undergraduate Medicine at Imperial College London until 2004 and led the curriculum development and implementation of the new undergraduate medical programme. In 2004–05, as Higher Education Academy Senior Adviser, she was responsible for developing and implementing the accreditation of professional development programmes and the standards for teachers in HE.

Chapter 11

Transformation of School Education System in Russia: 2007–2017 Isak Froumin and Sergey Kosaretsky

11.1 Introduction There is a famous aphorism believed to be said by Otto von Bismarck that claims that the Russians are “slow to saddle up, but fast to ride.” This seems to be particularly true about the reforms of post-Soviet Russia. Plans and ideas of the transformations that took place in Russian education within the latest decade of the 21st century were drawn back in the 90ies and early 2000s. The time gap between these ideas and their practical implementation was significant. On the other hand, once the reforms were put into action, their speed was truly impressive, which, however, translated into the course of implementation and the effects of it. Within the first decade following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the education system faced multiple critical challenges due to serious systemic and economic crises undermining all sectors of economy and the whole social sphere, which included: significant budget cuts, wage reductions, fall of the prestige of teaching as profession, qualified professionals leaving the sphere, equipment obsolescence (Bolotov and Lenskaya, 1997; Scweisfurth, 2002). The reforms of the 90ies were made in a negative economic and social climate and often took a form of rapid emergency reactions to critical situations. Since the dawn of the 2000s there started a new phase of Russian education reforms, which was no longer merely a prompt reaction to circumstances but an attempt to build education system that would ensure stable socio-economic development of the country.

I. Froumin (B) · S. Kosaretsky Institute of Education, National Research University, Moscow, Russia e-mail: [email protected] S. Kosaretsky e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_11



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On one hand, it was largely connected to the stabilization of the economy and readiness of the governing bodies to invest into social sphere. In 2001, for the first time after the cuts of the 90ies, federal spendings on education started to increase. On the other hand, by the beginning of the 21st century there was established a certain consensus in the expert community on what kind of changes must take place in education, which found its wording in the Concept of Modernization of Russian Education by the Year of 2010 that was issued in 2001 and contained the following ideas: – creation of the independent system of education quality assessment, including creation and improvement of the procedures for independent final state examination; – improvement of the structure and content of school education, including transition to vocational schools and universities; – development of a modern national unified educational environment, partly due to computerization and provision of access to the Internet, as well as development of electronic educational resources for all levels and stages of education; – implementation of normative financing; – development of the system of public education management based on the principle of the division of responsibilities between federal, regional and municipal governing bodies and educational institutions and on real public involvement into decision-making process (Concept for Modernisation, 2010).

11.2 Improvement Challenges/Imperatives The question of approaches that were put on the ground level of a goal-setting system and design of changes is a subject of debate (Webber, 2002; Eklof et al., 2005; Bain, 2011). There are arguments being put forward that support the idea that the reformers based their decisions on the ideas of neoliberalism and new public management that were popular at the time (Comparing Post-Socialist Transformations: purposes, policies, and practices in education, 2018). It is, however, evident that their implementation was not the main goal but the source of instruments for finding solutions to burning problems related to access, quality and effectiveness of education The situation on these three parameters was indeed unfortunate. Budget cuts of the 90ies significantly worsened problems with accessibility of education in terms of presence of necessary infrastructure (including transport) and cadres for rural and distant territories. Drastic transformation of Russian society and economic structure, together with technological changes, required complex reconsideration of the scope of education and approaches to ensuring its quality and creation of a balance of interests between the state and households. The model for managing and financing of schools that was established within the Soviet times of centralized state-controlled economy and party control in no way could fit into the new institutional landscape (Politics, Modernisation, & Educational Reform in Russia, 2010).

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However, practical realization was to come only with time. “Vigor” of the state was first rendered in a form of support for infrastructure changes and leaders—“points of growth.” In 2005 the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin declared four national projects of priority, among which there was the National Priority Project “Education” (NPPE). The main steps of the NPPE in the sphere of school education that were launched in 2006 were the following: – – – –

provision of connection of schools to the Internet; provision of school buses for rural areas; provision of modern equipment to schools; provision of grants for best schools, teachers, and the talented youth.

The institutional changes listed in the Concept of Modernization of Education mainly started to take place in 2007. This article and the analysis given in it concerns the decade starting from this point, the period of 2007–2017.

11.3 Reforms Within the framework of the National Priority Project “Education” in 2007–2009 there was given a start to a complex project of education system modernization on a regional level (CPME) (Compleksnyye proecty modernizatsii obrazovanya, 2007). It provided for the following institutional changes: – implementation of a new system of remuneration of (NSRL) for the employees of the sphere of general education, which was intended to increase teachers’ income; – transition to a normative per capita financing (NPCF) for the institutions providing general education, which meant that the volume of financing was to be calculated in relation to the number of students and the norm was to be set for the education of one person; – development of regional systems of assessment of the quality of education, which resulted in the creation of organizations that are specialized on the assessment of the quality of education; – development of regional networks of educational institutions, which provided for the accessibility of high-quality education regardless of the place residence; – increase of public participation in education management that resulted into a creation of managing and supervisory school boards in which pupils’ parents could become members. 31 subjects of the Russian Federation (from 83) participated in the project at its pilot state. The main principles of the implementation of the complex project of education system modernization were: project approach (creation of an office of the project, development of indicators for control and a system for monitoring their achievement, clear dates for the ned of the project implementation), “money in return for reform”


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(allocation of funds from the federal budget to regions under condition of taking an obligation of launching the reforms), and “money in return for results” (establishing connection between the continuation of allocation of funds from the federal budget to regions under condition of their achievement of performance targets). It is worth pointing out that there were cases of administrative pressure, mainly in terms of the implementation of the suggested wage calculation model. Within the two years following the CPME, managing without using the additional federal financing served as a way of pushing change throughout all the regions. The major steps the CPME made it possible to take were the implementation of a new wage calculation model for teachers and a normative (formula-based) financing. Taking a closer look at a wage calculation model, it is worth pointing out that before the reform, the income of teachers depended on the level of education and the length of their service. In the 90ies there was approved the Unified Wage Rate Scale that created a certain “gradation” and set differentiation in remuneration. Differences between high labour grades were insignificant. The old system created an incentive for teachers to stay in profession for as long as possible in order to increase the length of service record and, subsequently, the wage, and to increase a workload by “taking in more hours.” The system thus promoted the “ageing” of teaching bodies, limited the influx of young professionals and led to stagnation of the quality of educational results. In the course of the reform outside the central region of Russia there were applied four main models of wage calculation, all of which had in common the structure that consisted of a base (permanent) part of a wage, which was connected in various ways (depending on a model) with workload and a scope of work tasks, a level of education, and a subject taught, and an incentive part. The volume of an incentive payment was to be set for each teacher individually depending on the quality of their work. Incentive payments were spread among teachers in accordance with the regulations on it set in schools. The assessment criteria for performance quality were to be created by schools themselves and had to be approved by school boards. The idea that the evidence of a teacher’s effective work is reflected in the results of students and that incentive payments should depend on this factor faced just criticism (Hanushek, 1997). Indeed, good results of students’ interim and final assessments, their success in different academic competitions can’t be considered as a sound criterion for the assessment of the quality of teachers’ work since they might be reached due to impact of families, private tutors, other teachers, and peers. Similarly, in case of bad results, teachers have to bear full responsibility for them even though there might have appeared negative causes influencing students, independent of teachers’ and schools’ work. This and other similar problems related to identifying sound criteria for teachers’ assessment became very evident after the implementation of the NSRL, but no better toolset (for instance, value added) was offered. Moreover, lack of transparency of the incentive system, together with the emergent significant difference in salaries, bred a strong social pressure in teaching collectives. The main objective of the normative (formula-based) financing was to determine the volume of budgeting for the organizations providing public services according to the government task by following a unified method of multiplying the normative

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cost of a unit of a public service by a number of services being provided. Before this, the volume of budgeting was being calculated for each school separately almost as bargaining process, which in practice meant, according to the financial plan where there were listed the requested sums for each individual expenditure line, which led to significant disparities. Such financing based on financial plans, on one hand, did not presuppose responsibility of organisations for the results of their activity, and on the other hand, limited the autonomy of schools in terms of spending, not allowing them to flexibly re-allocate funds in situations of emergency. The new financing model was seen as a more transparent, fair, and allowing for more autonomy of directors. However, from the very beginning of practical implementation of the new model there often started to appear the cases of not fully normative funding, for instance, in cases of budget limitations or redistribution of funds coming from regional budgets, among schools following the decisions of municipal government and contrary to formula-based approach. There also appeared a contradiction between the necessity to create equal conditions for educational organisations and, as a result, students and actual individualization of the norm for various educational institutions with regard to their specificities. The schools with expanded curriculum that emerged in the 90ies traditionally had a higher normative financing, which allowed them to hire better qualified teachers (including university lecturers) and to individualize education. Within the process of the implementation of the new model it also became evident that educational organisations having more students got more advantage than small schools. As a result, schools in rural areas and schools focusing on the enhanced coverage of specific groups of subjects, so-called “gymnasiums” and “lyceums” suffered from the decrease of funding. That being mentioned, for a significant part of educational community (teachers and managing professionals) omission of the “all-equal” approach in terms of labour remuneration and introduction of the principle of competition “to win students” proved to be an important motivation for a professional growth and overall activity. The level of responsibility for the educational outcomes and economic efficiency increased in the whole system. The process of the implementation of the NPCF and the NSRL was accompanied by the regulatory support of the development of self -governance of schools. The law “On Autonomous Institutions” that supported transition of schools towards independent budget planning and gave more freedom to schools in terms of allocation of expenditures dates back to the year of 2006. The principle of autonomy is built on the idea that an institution should accept responsibility for the success of its functioning and for reaching the goals stated in its task. However, mainly due to the lack of the instruments of normative financing, and at the same time, due to a simple reason that most schools were not practically ready for such independence and such level of freedom, the law failed to reach its full force. In 2010 there was passed a federal amendment to the existing legislative acts, under the power of which the status of a state-funded institutions was made quite similar to the status of autonomous institutions, which meant that they began to be funded in a form of subsidies, i.e. in one payment, in one budget line. It’s important to note that more spending freedom of an


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institution was “swapped” for the abolition of its holder’s responsibility for paying the subsidiary debts of an institution: an institution has freedom of making decisions, but is responsible for all actions alone. The logics behind this new approach significantly strengthened the role of an institution holder in making a decision on setting a state (municipal) task on one hand, and on the other hand, since the parameters of the state (municipal) task related to quality were formed very formally and the task itself did not become an instrument for managing quality. Together with the CPME, first in a form of beta-testing, and later, starting from 2009, as a regular practice there started to work one of the main mechanisms for the independent assessment of education quality—the Unified State Examination (USE). The USE was designed to serve both as an only form of final school assessment and an entrance examination for higher education institutions. It was designed to consist of tasks of exactly the same type that were evaluated in exactly the same way all over Russia. It was the CPME that put the ground basis for making it possible to organise such a procedure and that later made it possible to launch the State Final Examination (SFE) to be passed after the 9th year of education at the end of middle school. The implementation of the USE significantly increased mobility across regions, which increased accessibility of quality education. For instance, the share of first year students in higher education institutions of Moscow increased more than twofold. On the other hand, it bred practices of drilling in educational process which became necessary in order to get students prepared and which decreased their overall cultural development level, it decreased the level families’ trust to schools in terms of effective preparation for the USE and they started to resort to private tutors more and more frequently, which increased the risks of inequality. It is worth pointing out that at the time higher priority was given to increasing budget-spending efficiency and, in fact, economizing, rather than to ensuring accessibility and quality of education. The state started to show less readiness of investing in education and, quite on the contrary, set high demands for such parameters as teacher-to-student ratio or teaching-to-non-teaching staff ratio. As it was mentioned earlier, during this period there was implemented a program for restructuring the network of schools in rural areas, which often presupposed closing schools down, as the upkeep of small schools within the conditions of quicklydecreasing population in rural areas pressured the budget significantly. There was also observed a reduction of social workers and counselors in schools. However, in terms of network functioning, Russia almost overcame its former significant differences from most of other countries. Such indicators as number of students in class and teacher-to-student ratio for Russia are now very close to OECD countries. An “educational” component of the described reforms was significantly less vigorously pushed than their “financial” and “administrative” side, at least for the first five years of it (2007–2010). Thus, an educational reform overlapped and even in a way was covered by an administrative one in 2006–2010 and a reform of a legal status of state (municipal) institutions of 2010–2012, which took away resources of education managers and shifted their focus and responsibility from quality to budgeting and managing.

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An attempt to return to an initial “educational focus” of changes and to prioritize tasks with regard to the results achieved by that moment and new challenges was manifested in a document called the Presidential Initiative “Our New School.” There were determined the following key directions for development of general education: – – – – – –

transition to new educational (curriculum) standards; development of the system of support for gifted children; teachers professional development; changing school infrastructure; preservation and improvement of pupils’ health in school setting; promotion of schools autonomy.

At that point in time the work on new educational standards that was led (with certain interruptions and reconsiderations of approaches) throughout the first decade of the 21st century was finally finished. In 2011 schools of the Russian Federation were obliged to adopt the new standard of primary education, and in 2015—the new standard of secondary education. There were also implemented the standards for individuals with disabilities. Instead of the former two components of standards—educational minimum and requirements for the level of educational competencies of individuals finishing school—the new standards were given a three-piece composition, which included requirements for: – a structure of main education programs (including a proportion of a compulsory part of a main education program and a proportion of its part to be formed by the participants of educational process) and their volume; – conditions for the implementation of the main education programs, including conditions related to human resources, finance, facilities, and other types of management; – expected learning outcomes. The standard provided for quite a significant level of autonomy of schools. Basing their decisions on the requirements set forth by the standards and the suggested sample structures of education programs, schools started to develop their own curriculum, syllabi for different disciplines and, and other regulatory papers practically defining education process in every particular school. Requirements for the structure of education programs contain directions on what the contents of the programs should be for each level of education, a framework for their basic components, and a proportion of a compulsory part of a main education program and a part to be formed by the participants of educational process. As for the latter, on each level of education it is required to be different: 80% of a compulsory part for primary school, 70%—for secondary, and 60%—for high school. Education content, defined by an invariable part, allows for an exposure of pupils to both common and national cultural values, forms disciplinary and metadisciplinary skills and personal qualities correspondent to the requirements of the standards. The elective part, in its turn, allows for including regionally significant specificities of the education content and personal demands of pupils.


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For the first time in Russia regulation of an education content and a learning process became result-oriented rather than process-oriented (focusing of what it is necessary to “cover”). An important novelty was an appearance of “universal learning activities” and “universal competencies” among the expected results of educational process. These two notions presuppose the ability of an individual to self-educate and grow through new social experience. The federal state education standard and a suggested sample education program set the regulatory framework. Such binary system of regulation is fairly unique for the world practice. It is common for many countries to have one kind of a document within national systems for managing education content, usually called a standard (for instance, Common Core Standard in the USA, Bildungsstandards in Germany), a curriculum (National Core Curriculum in Finland, UK National Curriculum in the English part of Great Britain, Ontario Curriculum in Canada) or a syllabus (Syllabus in Singapore). Despite different names, these documents are created mostly for the purpose of outlining the expected results of education. However, the uniqueness of the Russian system is not to be necessarily considered purely as an advantage as it is more likely to be a reflection of political discussions in the Russian education. The request for a sample education program appears in case there is a need for deciphering the statements and concepts of the standard vocalized by the professional community. Indeed, vagueness of teachers’ understanding on how to put the standard into practice leads to a frequent question on what exactly there is to be done and how it should be done, and a sample program attempts to give an answer to this question. Many teachers believed that Ministry in Moscow knows better what and how to teach. A change of a basic construct of content was quite dramatic, and exactly at the time when there was created and being implemented an education standard, for the first time in Russia there were considered results of education in a regulatory field. However, a definition of content as a unity of results of education and teaching materials providing for their achievement appeared in research works later. Such change of construct began to require change of many adjoined institutes within the system of education, but in practice, these institutes were not ready to transform rapidly. The situation proved to be critical for the following three spheres: a system of evaluation of pupils (mainly the USA and the SFE), a system of advanced training for teachers, and the sphere of educational and methodological materials (course books, study guides, etc.). All of them were built on a conceptual basis different from the ideas set forth by the Federal Educational Standard (FES). The standard was aimed at developing skills, building competencies, promoting practice, whereas the existing systems of evaluation of pupils and advanced training for teachers, as long as the existing educational and methodological materials were designed to follow the subject- and knowledge-related paradigm. Such incongruity became one of the most dramatic aspects of the implementation of new standards and led to practical ineffectiveness of changes. Most vividly it is seen on the example of advanced training for teachers. This kind of training programs were massively launched and carried out throughout the country from the year of 2010 and were intended for retraining teachers for the work in conditions set forth by new standards. Often the actual content of programs remained the same with an exception

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of adding the words such as “Federal Educational Standard”, “metadisciplinary”, “activity approach” and their derivatives to their names. Similar situation happened in the sphere of educational and methodological materials, where there were continuing to be used course books and teaching guides created within the Soviet times and with regard to the Soviet learning paradigm. Even though the contents of course books often changed under the pressure of economic and economic changes, the approach as such remained the same and focused on “covering” the necessary material. It seems possible to say that the FES proved to be too innovative for teaching and managing bodies of schools, however, at the same time, it is also clear that the process of implementation appeared to be not premeditated enough in issues of motivation of professional community and ways to involve this community in testing and implementation procedures. Within the last two years a question of changing the standards was raised in different ways and forms on the government level: there are being observed attempts to include there a set of topics and teaching units, which would in fact return the focus on knowledge components, the idea of a fundamental core and an educational minimum. In 2011–2013, within the framework of a special project for the modernization of general education, there were allocated significant funds for the development of schools’ infrastructure (renovation and redecoration of premises, procurement of equipment and school buses, increase of the speed of the Internet connection) from the federal and regional budgets. This made it possible to increase an average level of education quality significantly, including the level of education quality in rural areas and in areas of severe climate conditions. More to this, there was carried out a program for the redecoration of sport halls in schools of rural areas. As a result, most schools in Russia acquired laboratory equipment necessary to implement the approaches of the new FES, to organize project and research activities. Within the same period a lot of resources were directed to increasing salaries of teachers. This task was set forth by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation in May 2012 and the clear and transparent approaches and tools for the realization of it were not set on the federal level. The offered idea of a so-called “effective contract” designed for teachers was not thoroughly developed, which led to the increase of academic load and paperwork and instead of attracting young employees into the field, slowed down the process of creating new professionals. In connection to this idea it is worth noting that since salaries of experienced teachers approaching retirement age significantly higher than their retirement allowance and there is a possibility to work and receive pension allowance at the same time, such teachers tend to stay employed for as long as possible. In 2012 there was accepted the new Federal Law No. 273 “On Education in the Russian Federation”, which, in fact, made all experiences of the system of education for the preceding years legislative norms. This law made an organizational structure of education more flexible, set new forms of implementation and achievement of mastery in education programs: family, modular, distance, and online. It broadened the scope of rights of pupils and their legal representatives (in most cases, parents),


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for instance, in terms of acquiring information about educational institutions, participation in governing of an educational institution. For the first time in the history of Russia there appeared articles on education process for individuals with disabilities. The law stated that a salary of a teacher cannot be lower than an average salary for the considered region. All of the instruments of budgeting outlined earlier in his article received legislative status.

11.4 Outcomes It is important to consider the education reforms of 2007–2017 in Russia from the perspective of the aims that were set forth in relation to them. At the moment Russia holds strong positions in terms of coverage of children of school age with school education. Accessibility of school education is ensured across the whole country, even in its most distant corners and within conditions of severe climate and complicated demographic. School infrastructure has been significantly improved both in terms of basic conditions (water supply, central heating, drainage) and modern technologies (the Internet access, computers and other technical equipment). Pupils finishing schools are demonstrating high levels of reading literacy at a cross-country Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). In 2016, Russia became a leader among participating countries. Although this result was made possible mainly because of contribution of families (home reading practice), there is some evidence of a positive impact of new education standards. According to the data of Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) of 2015, Russian pupils in the 4th and in the 8th year of education reached no lower than the 7th place in all subjects across all participating countries. More to this, results of TIMSS performance significantly improved from 2003, the year Russia first participated in the study. Another study the performance of Russia in which improved since 2003 is Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In 2015 results of Russian pupils in reading and mathematics literacy were higher than the average results for the OECD countries, in which there are reasons to see the impact of new standards. It is fair to say that the institutional reforms of Russian schools have come to an end. There act conceptually new mechanisms of state regulation and funding, quality assessment, education standards.

11.5 Reflections Within the last ten years Russia managed to transform the system of school education drastically. Changes concern all its key parts. The scope and direction of the reformative measures correlates with those approaches that are considered as optimal by world experts:

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– – – –

professional development courses for teachers and education managers; quality assessment of pupils; modernization of IT systems; enhancement of reforms by accepting corresponding state policy regulations and laws on education; – reconsideration of education standards and curricula; – creation of an incentive payment system. It is fair to say that the effect of changes that can be observed in results of crosscountry studies of education quality is quite encouraging. It is true that Russia did not demonstrate such dramatic change as in, for instance, Estonia or Poland, but the scope of change and the observed effect of it on such a vast geographical territory allow to consider Russian case as unique (Khavenson and Carnoy, 2016). There is no doubt there were certain deficits in terms of the design of reforms and the practice of their implementation (Ben-Peretz, 2008). First of all, it is important to mention the lack of consistency of the reforms. Those measures that were to be implemented found their practical realization in quite a nonsynchronous and noncomplementary way, often in an erratic order of steps. As an example, let us take a look at policies related to teachers. The new system of wage calculation was put into practice long before a creation of a system for teaching quality assurance and assessment and a development of a professional standard. Similarly, the Unified State Examination was implemented prior to new education standards and it still continues to set aims in terms of education results schools have to ensure. However, those aims are solely subject-oriented and they do not consider assessment of other types of achievement set forward by the NES: meta-disciplinary and individual. At all times reforms were carried out in a top-down manner, in a centralized way, without due respect to the opinion of teachers, families, without due flexibility in terms of regional specificities (even though it is commonly understood that Russia is a country of a very high level of social, cultural, and economic heterogeneity). The necessity of attracting main agents and beneficiaries (mainly teachers) to the reformatory process proved to be underestimated. There were almost no attempts to take steps in direction of creating demand for the offered innovations and the institutions that were being built. This was very distinctly seen, for instance, in the process of implementation of new standards of education. Even in the situations in which reformative measures obviously offered benefit and improvement, there was not ensured “leadership from the inside” and there was not praised enthusiasm and creativity. Moreover, no feedback in terms of the results of changes was collected and taken into consideration, even though there obviously existed certain achievements (including the achievements proven by cross-national education quality assessment initiatives). Often this attitude led to “formal” approach to changes and even their imitation. Instead of giving feedback in reports, schools often provided “glossy” bureaucratic papers designed no more than to be passed successfully. In order to ensure quality


I. Froumin and S. Kosaretsky

of education and professionalism of teaching bodies, there was given emphasis on personal incentives instead of developing social capital of the system (interaction of schools and teachers) (Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012). The principle of autonomy and independence was considered as a linchpin of a new Russian school. However, in many ways it became a chink in armor, which was explained in a detailed way earlier in this article on the example of education standards. The practice of granting sudden freedom without explaining and cultivating its importance and potential put most specialists in the field in a very challenging position. Moreover, these challenges were overcome by them with even more strict paternalistic patterns of behavior. There are reasons to believe that, in a way, the effectiveness of the reforms was limited by the state’s approach to education budgeting and allocation of funds. Despite separate projects within which the state allocated funds for the development of infrastructure, support of leaders and increase of teachers’ salaries, it mostly tended to stick to the governing policy of economizing. Obviously, when reforms were financially supported (implementation of normative financing and a new system of wage calculation in those regions where the CPME was first tested), their effect was much more evident. The share of state expenses on general education in education budget almost did not change from 2005 to 2015 and was equal to 44–46%. Russia is currently on the 32nd place in the world in terms of per capita allocation of funds to general education by the state out of the 39 considered countries. The country spends about 6,000 USD a year on it, whereas the average sum for the OECD countries exceeds 10,000 USD a year (OECD, 2017). The growth of nominal expenses of a consolidated budget on general education for the last seven years has been equal to 61%, but factual expenses lowered by 4,9%. The state did not allow for the quality growth of expenses during fruitful economic times of 2004–2007, and later on a series of economic crises (world and local) simply could not allow for it. In its turn, the share of non-budget financing of school education remains insignificant (about 4%) and has even decreased in course of the latest years. Private sector satisfies re request of the upper middle class for deeper individualization of education, unique school atmosphere, often even for the International Baccalaureate, but it did not grow within the course of reforms. Basic school education is firmly associated in the minds of citizens with the lack of necessity to pay, whereas better-off families choose overseas schools. At last, the system of allocation of responsibilities in education management and financing had a negative impact on the effectiveness of the reforms. According to the law “On Education in the Russian Federation” of 1992, responsibility for the provision of general education is divided between the federal center, the subjects of the country, and the municipalities. The federal center was to be responsible for the policy and to develop standards, and in some cases (the examples of which were given) is to use the tool of project management and financing. At the same time the municipalities were to take the role of school holders making key decisions (on human resources, structural reorganization and liquidation) and holding responsibility for the state of infrastructure.

11 Transformation of School Education System in Russia: 2007–2017


Such structure created obstacles for effective controlled changes since “signals” from above were often distorted on the way or even lost, so responsibility frames were very vague. The “center” did not have direct tools for control and consistently underestimated difference of educational contexts within which changes were to be implemented. As a result, the state gave the subjects autonomy in realization of goals, but at the same time, did not trust them and created bureaucratic mechanisms of control that required a lot of time and power to answer to. The same mechanism was automatically reproduced in terms of relations between regional governing bodies and municipalities. Therefore, the legislatively set principle of autonomy found an extremely limited realization capacity in practice. Moreover, from in terms of the aspects of financial and managing potential, municipal level in many cases happened to be the weakest link. Conditions of infrastructure and labour remuneration varied drastically from one school to another within municipalities, and for years it did not prove to be possible to equalize it. Currently there is a debate about the change of managing structure in Russian general education, mainly in terms of giving the authority to control institutions to regions and taking it away from municipalities. However, the issue of balance between centralization and autonomy is not an easy one. Most municipalities are represented by specialists that do not have any necessary project managing skills and that are used to play a passive role of transmitters of tasks “from above.” Despite that, there are separate instances of pro-active and enthusiastic behavior of municipal employees supported by demonstration of real knowledge of citizens’ requests. And finally, a number of regions are so vast that “physical” possibilities of organizing meetings and sync-up sessions with employees are very limited for this trivial reason. It it worth mentioning that this whole situation is not education-specific, but reflects the common for Russia problem of state governance in a gigantic heterogeneous country. Despite large scale of changes covered in the course of reforms, there at least two critically important spheres of change that have been neglected. Even though it was stated in a number of strategic documents that there is observed a need for a minimization of the gap in quality of education among schools and provision of individual support for schools working in disadvantaged conditions (including schools demonstrating low scores), no measures to reach these results were offered. The new systems of normative (formula-based) financing and teachers’ wage calculation did control for social characteristics of pupils (such as share of pupils from disadvantaged families, migrant families, etc.), which is a wide-spread practice in many foreign countries (OECD, 2012). No school effectiveness and improvement models (Chapman, Harris, Muijs, Reynolds, & Sammons, 2012) were adopted enough to be significant. Currently the level of social and economic segregation (reflected in cases when children from prosperous families are mainly educated in one school, and children from families of poor economic background—in another one) of Russian schools is higher than in Canada, the USA, the UK, Germany. There is observed a high level of functional illiteracy of pupils in mathematics, reading, and natural science (24%, as shown by PISA results). This group of pupils is represented by families with low social and economic status and in a separate particular group of


I. Froumin and S. Kosaretsky

schools. An indicator of academic resiliency of Russian school education, which reflects a share of children coming from disadvantageous families but reaching high educational results, is much lower than in schools of Vietnam, China, Japan, the USA, Korea, France, Italy (Agasisti, 2018). This situation is indeed surprising for a country that served as a world example of social justice in education in the previous century, especially taking into consideration the world priority of ensuring equality in all spheres. There was also not given enough attention to the improvement of teaching practices. Creation of new education standards was not accompanied by development of new methodological instruments for teachers and new complementary programs for their professional development. Procedures for teachers’ work and qualification assessment carried out as part of a new system for wage calculation were focused on external quality indicators, such as USE results of pupils, their performance at competition and olympiads, disregarding internal processes happening in classrooms, approaches to working both with class and with pupils in need of individual attention. Professional standard for a teacher appeared in the middle of a way, but it still remains more ideological rather than practical and operational, mainly for a reason that it does not offer any system of level differentiation. Having made a dramatic leap in the direction of creation of an institute of independent assessment, Russia failed to form a complementary system for monitoring and analysis of pupils’ achievements on levels of school and class which would allow for continuous improvement of teaching and learning practices. Formative assessment tools failed to be developed as well. Generally, despite strong tradition of pedagogical psychology, the learning component remains poorly addressed in Russian school education, both in its theoretical and practical aspects. Drawing conclusions from the results of cross-country and local Russian education quality assessment studies, there is observed a fall of motivation for learning mathematics and natural sciences (Schleicher, 2018). It is fair to state that Russia was not unique or alone in the outlined problems that emerged in the course of reforms. In many ways Russian case is a vivid embodiment of what Michael Fullan called “the wrong drivers for whole system reform” (Fullan, 2011) and denial of universal principles recognized to be critically important for successful change (Ainscow & Hargreaves, 2015; Schleicher, 2018). However, there is no denial that at the same time, it is evidently special in terms of country size and inhomogeneity and its transition from one pattern to another drastically different one.

References Agasisti, T. et al. (2018). Academic resilience: What schools and countries do to help disadvantaged students succeed in PISA, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 167, OECD Publishing, Paris. Ainscow, M., & Hargreaves, A. (2015). The top and bottom of leadership and change. Phi Delta Kappan, 97(3), 42–48. Bain, O. (2011). Education After the Fall of the Berlin Wall: The End of History or the Beginning of Histories? In I. Silova (Ed.), Post-socialism is not dead: Reading the global in comparative education (pp. 27–61). Emerald Group Publishing: Bingley.

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Ben-Peretz, M. (2008). The life cycle of reform in education: From the circumstances of birth to stages of decline. London: Institute of Education-University of London. Bolotov, V., & Lenskaya, E. (1997). The reform of education in New Russia: A background report for the OECD review of Russian Education. OECD thematic review of tertiary education. Moscow: OECD. Chapman, C., Harris, A., Muijs, D., Reynolds, D., & Sammons, P. (Eds.). (2012). Challenging the orthodoxy? Perspectives on school effectiveness and improvement research policy and practice. NL: Springer. Comparing Post-Socialist Transformations: purposes, policies, and practices in education. (2018) ed. by Maia Chankseliani & Iveta Silova. Symposium Books. Compleksnyye proecty modernizatsii obrazovanya. (2007). [Electronic] Available from http://www. edu.ru/documents/view/1660/. Retrieved 22 June 2018, from, http://eurekanet.ru/ewww/info_p rint/kpmo.html. Concept for Modernisation. (2010). Concept for Modernisation of Russian Education. Policy Statement by the Government of the Russian Federation. [Electronic]. Retrieved 25 June 2018, from, http://www.edu.ru/documents/view/1660/. Eklof, B., Holmes, L., & Kaplan, V. (Eds.). (2005). Educational reform in post-soviet Russia: Legacies and prospects (p. 257). Frank Cass: London. Fullan, M. (2011). Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform. Centre for strategic education seminar series paper No. 204. Hanushek, E. (1997). Assessing the effects of school resources on student performance: An update Educational evaluation and policy analysis. Summer, 19(2), 141–164. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press. Khavenson, T., & Carnoy, M. (2016). The unintended and intended academic consequences of educational reforms: The cases of Post-Soviet Estonia, Latvia and Russia. Oxford Review of Education, 42(2), 178–199. OECD. (2012). Equity and quality in education: Supporting disadvantaged students and schools. Publishing: OECD. OECD. (2017). Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing. Politics, Modernisation, and Educational Reform in Russia: From Past to Present (2010). ed. David Johnson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 176 pp. Schleicher, A. (2018). World Class: How to build a 21st-century school system, Strong Performers and Successful. Reformers in Education, OECD Publishing. Scweisfurth, M. (2002). Teachers, democratisation and educational reform in Russia and South Africa. Michele, Symposium Books. Webber, S. (2002). School, reform and society in the New Russia. London: Macmillan.

Isak Froumin Head of the Institute of Education at National Research University “Higher School of Economics” (Moscow)—first graduate school of education in Russia. He started his career as school principal. He worked in the World Bank and was an advisor to the Minister of Education of Russia. Sergey Kosaretsky Director of the Pinsky Centre of General and Extracurricular Education of the Institute of Education at National Research University “Higher School of Economics” (Moscow). He started his career as analyst and expert in Russian educational projects and studies. Now he is a permanent member of several federal expert councils and strategy groups.

Chapter 12

System Transformation in Spanish Education Agenda: Inclusion and Networking as Policy Priorities? Cecilia Azorín

12.1 Introduction The journey towards the transformation of educational systems begins by identifying the policy priorities that are necessary for the change to come about. Hence, the policy priorities suggested to a particular country in the OECD (2018) report are based on three aspects: key challenges identification, system-specific contextual issues to keep in mind and systemic objectives in the short, medium and long term. This chapter, focused on Spanish education, presents inclusion and networking as the main policy challenges the country faces in terms of system transformation. Thus, the contextual details and future steps for the adoption of a broad paradigm of school collaboration in this part of Europe are explored. Inclusion and networking are both topics related to collaboration, which is an important point for academia in today’s educational research and practice. From a system perspective, it has been argued that ‘collaboration is the new front line of school improvement’ (Hargreaves & O’Connor, 2018, 1). Currently, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is placing special attention in excellence and equity in education, policies and practices for successful schools, students’ well-being and collaborative problem solving. Given that modern societies require people to collaborate with one another, collaborative problem-solving measures was assessed in PISA 2015 for the first time to ascertain how well students work together as a group and their attitudes towards collaboration. Research in Spain concludes that, not only for students, but also for teachers and leadership teams involved in the teaching and learning process, is it difficult to collaborate and use a cooperative team approach when individual and competitive environments are part of the school and professional life (Azorín, 2018a). However, C. Azorín (B) University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_12



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in terms of networking in education, Muijs and Rumyantseva (2014, 1) state that ‘while educational theory has often seen collaboration and competition as incompatible, there is increasing evidence that collaboration persists in educational markets characterized by competition’. Different theoretical and empirical studies are supporting education networks and their direct link to inclusion and collaboration in Spanish school context (Arnaiz, De Haro, & Azorín, 2018; Azorín, 2017; Civís & Longás, 2015; Echeita, Monarca, Sandoval, & Simón, 2012; Lozano, Ballesta, Castillo, & Cerezo, 2018; Martínez, Alonso, Martínez, & Alonso, 2018; Navarro & Hernández, 2017; Sales, Moliner, Amiana, & Lozano, 2018). These pieces of research provide insights into how schools can overcome barriers to be more inclusive by using a networking approach, and understanding that the combination of these two powerful forces (inclusion and networking) can act as a catalyst for educational change. The next sections present information about the Spanish context and system-wide reform based upon collaboration within, between and beyond schools. This will be connected to the key challenges considered (inclusion and networking) as drivers of system transformation, and the role it is expected that the new area of professional learning networks (PLNs) play in this education context. The final section concludes, outlining future steps for moving policy and practice forward.

12.2 The Spanish Education System Transforming education systems is in many aspects, a complex task (Harris & Jones, 2015). The Spanish educational system currently faces a number of issues in terms of quality (excellence), inclusion and equity. In the case of quality, educational success is unquestionably a challenge. In the PISA report Spain’s results have traditionally been below the mean for the European Union. Among the main weaknesses the country suffers from is the emphasis on memorising contents instead of applying what is learnt, a feature that is present through the different stages of education. Likewise, the constant changes in recent decades to the Spanish educational legislation by different governments have served to generate controversy and uncertainty instead of having any real impact in classrooms. This leads one to reflect on the situation of other school systems where deep transformations with encouraging results for education have been undertaken and to consider the lessons to be learnt from them. Examples of countries that ranked high are Finland, Japan or Canada, and they have been successful, among other reasons, because they do not see education as part of their political debate. Alongside this, it is feasible to ask whether a part of Spain’s Achilles’ heel has been the political tendency to invest little in improving the quality of the teachers. As Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) argue, successful systems invest in professional capital precisely because that makes the difference. Some of the issues that Spain needs to address are: the need to continue to advance towards equitable education that compensates for inequalities (UNICEF, 2017c); the duty to include people with disabilities as full-fledged citizens, a task

12 System Transformation in Spanish Education Agenda: Inclusion …


which corresponds to all spheres of society (CERMI, 2017); the fight against school segregation, insofar as it is an element that is limiting the future possibilities of thousands of children (Save the Children, 2018); the urgent need to promote public policies affording true equal opportunities that guarantee social protection to infants and the development of quality inclusive education for all (Save the Children, 2017); the importance of analysing the factors driving educational exclusion (UNICEF, 2017b); and the evaluation of the impact of the deep economic recession on child poverty in this context, together with the unfavourable consequences it has supposed for inclusion (UNICEF, 2017a). In the final analysis, this chapter questions whether the transformation of the Spanish educational system requires the establishment of a solid political framework to broach the issue of inclusion and whether networks can serve as platforms to drive the necessary changes. The reader, therefore, should first be au fait with today’s political map of Spanish education. The administration and territorial organization of the Spanish state is based on a decentralised model consisting of 17 autonomous regions. According to Azorín (2019, 42): All of them share a common state education law, but this policy does not include support networks between schools. As a consequence, schools have the autonomy to decide whether to develop networking practices or not. At the same time, every regional government establishes its own legislation, which means that at the local level, schools can act to a different extent in this sense. Taking into account, this diverse network policy landscape, the local level seems a suitable focus for the study of networking in education. The same occurs with inclusion, although it is true that the common national legislation does mention inclusion as a one of the driving principles of teaching. However, there is no specific law covering inclusive education. There are, in contrast, various regulations and decrees that specify how to respond to student diversity, but these are not of a national character and the focus varies from one autonomous community to another. It is against this backdrop that we reflect below on the priority of the actions that the politicians responsible for education should adopt as emergency measures in the light of contributions that foster a change of perspective towards the network society (Castells, 2010), the society we are in, which is made up of interconnected people committed to values that inclusion promotes.

12.3 Key Challenges 12.3.1 Inclusion Not only in Spain, but elsewhere in the world, there is a growing inclusive depotism, a term coined by Azorín and Sandoval (2019) to describe the perpetuation of “all for inclusion, but without the inclusion”, an approach that endorses the idea of theory


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galloping along in one direction while practice zooms off on a completely different course nother (from inclusion in theory to exclusion in practice). It has to be understood that inclusion is not just another research or educational practice fad, but an obligation on the part of bodies, administrators and those in charge of school policies to listen to the demands of the citizens and to redress the perverse effects of an education system that has not managed to guarantee the success of all its students. Critical voices in the field, such as Slee (2013, 2018), have drawn attention to the dilemma of how make inclusive education happen when exclusion is a political predisposition. Recently, Calderón (2018) published “Deprived of human rights”, in which the author explains the exclusion suffered by persons with disabilities in Spain. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2017) published a report on the Spanish educational system which concludes that there are grave and systematic violations of the right to (inclusive) education. According to Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations, 2006), the right to inclusive education for all is not compatible with sustaining two systems of education—mainstream and special/segregated—which is precisely what happens in Spain. Inclusion does not mean just being in a mainstream education setting, but what is clear is that inclusive education is a fundamental right which is not being developed in Spanish classrooms. Various legal sentences in recent years have found in favour of parents who have filed against the discriminatory treatment their special education needs children have received in Spain. In this respect, the Spanish context finds itself in a period of convulsion as people call for unprecedented changes. Indeed, there is a growing number of popular initiatives being implemented around the country in an attempt to force a deep transformation of the school system through a state policy favouring inclusion. Aware that inclusion is one of the great challenges they face, some countries have begun to get actively involved in changing the exclusion present. In Portugal, for example, a New School Inclusion Law (Law Decree DL-2018) is operating in a small country that is taking a big step in the spirit of ‘every learner matters and matters equally’ and ‘all means all’. In this respect, policy makers in Spain would do well to follow the example of their neighbouring country. The efforts needed to carry out a true change need to take into account the two main aspects given in Fig. 12.1. The first is the demand for a new law on inclusive education that does not infringe on this right and that responds to the clamours of the people against segregation and in favour of inclusion. The second is to pursue networking and school-to-school support as a viable approach that will lead to enhanced quality in education and in inclusion. Thus, by placing inclusion at the centre of this spiral, it is expected that the networks will be able to act as levers in the transformation of the Spanish education system and take it towards a more collaborative model that responds to the demands of 21st century schools.

12 System Transformation in Spanish Education Agenda: Inclusion …


Fig. 12.1 Spanish system transformation strategy

12.3.2 Networking in School Contexts Over a decade ago, Chapman and Fullan (2007) drew attention to collaboration and partnership for equitable improvement, an approach able to guide the discourse of policies and practices towards a network learning system. Since then, numerous authors have contributed internationally to the field of networking in education (e.g. Azorín & Muijs, 2018; Brown & Poortman, 2018; Díaz-Gibson, Civís, Daly, & Longás Riera, 2017; Downey, 2018; Harris, Jones & Huffman, 2017; Chapman & Muijs, 2014; Daly & Stoll, 2018; Chapman, Chestnutt, Friel, Hall, & Lowden, 2016; Ehren & Perryman, 2018; Middlewood, Abbott, & Robinson, 2018; Muijs, 2015; Muijs, Chapman, Ainscow & West, 2011; Rincón-Gallardo & Fullan, 2016). Many of these studies include school-to-school collaboration, federations, alliances and academy chains; they respond to innovative organizational form requirements, and are part of a new educational arena, from isolation to collaboration. There is no doubt that tomorrow’s schools will need to help students join others and networking. This incipient collaboration is, of course, transferible to teachers and the rest of the educational community. Schleicher (2018: 63) affirm that: In top school systems, the emphasis is not on looking upward within the administration of the school system. Instead it’s about looking outward to the next teacher or the next school, creating a culture of collaboration and strong networks of innovation.

A change in culture towards collaboration in schools is, therefore, essential, and it begins by adopting this focus in the day-to-day running of the school. The specialist literature on this subject in Spain confirms that networking supposes a powerful strategy for transforming the educational system in terms of quality, inclusion and equity (Azorín, 2019; Civís & Longás, 2015). Recently, Azorín & Arnaiz (2018) coordinated a special edition in Spain on the new ways of participation and social transformation that are emerging in force in Spain. Other studies, like Azorín and Muijs (2017: 273) have explored the difficulties of networking under Spanish education policy:


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Some barriers identified are related to: the networks’ structures, which could be more inclusive, the loose culture of collaboration, the weak mechanisms to link social and professional capital provided by policy-makers, the importance of belief in the network society and community power by stakeholders and also to the necessity to increase incentives for people involved, in terms of working- time conditions and resources. If the aim is to advance in this direction, in order to make use of the power of collaboration and increase excellence and equity in schools, policy makers have to provide the space to analyse particular circumstances and determine priorities accordingly (Armstrong & Ainscow, 2018). Other scholars have made international studies in the attempt to understand why ‘context matters’ (Harris & Jones, 2018). This premise highlights the need to think locally, exploring particular contexts and to take into account the varied ideas of those involved in territories with different values, cultures, policies and practices. However, in the attempt for system transformation it is essential not to forget that (Harris, 2010: 200). One of the major limitations of a model of change predicated upon school improvement is that it pays more attention to individual rather than collective capacity building. Even the most successful improvements are difficult to share between schools, as so often the change is heavily context specific, so capacity is contained and restricted at the single school level. Improving learning and teaching on a systemwide stage requires co-construction and co-production of new knowledge through the joint efforts of many people working together in a disciplined and focused way. In the quest for a solid theoretical and empirical framework that enables us to explore the possibilities afforded by collective capacity via networks, and starting from the previous consideration based on system improvement through collective capacity building (Harris, 2011) and a belief in the importance of laying the pathway for school and system improvement as a shared process, the following section examines PLNs in greater depth. This is a nascent area that is starting to get under way in Spain with encouraging results for the development of more connected and more inclusive schools.

12.4 Spanish PLNs for Greater Inclusion PLNs are defined by Brown and Poortman (2018: 1) as “any group who engage in collaborative learning with others outside of their everyday community of practice, in order to improve teaching and learning in their school(s) and/or the school system more widely”. This is directly connected with the concept of “inter-professional pedagogical collaboration” developed by Vesterinen, Kangas, Krokfors, Kopisto y Salo (2017) to refer to the collaboration when teachers go beyond the limits and collaborate with teachers from other schools, when they provide their students with more authentic learning experiences, when they acquire shared teaching knowledge, when they exercise various roles and produce an increase in the resources available to all.

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A variety of studies in the field of inclusion have drawn on the metaphor of the journey to illustrate the route schools and educational systems have to follow to achieve changes that favour an innovative vision and that question today’s values and policies (Azorín, 2018b; Azorín & Ainscow, 2020; Nguyen, 2015). PLNs can, in this sense, act as a driving force fo the change and are a powerful tool for breaking down barriers and opening up new horizons in education. PLNs foster the union of strengths among leaders, professionals, schools, comunities and universities (in short, among educational and social agents). At the same time, they help to form a new space for interaction and enrichment, where the idea is not to compete but to share and build knowledge. Other studies put attention on schools engaged in networking settings (Busch & Barkema, 2018; Godfrey & Brown, 2019). Today’s theoretical and empirical interest in PLNs and school-to-school support is on the rise, as is borne out by the number and variety of specialist papers in the subject (Azorín, 2019; Brown, 2019; Brown and Flood, 2019; Trust, Carpenter and Krutka, 2018; Armstrong & Ainscow, 2018; Harris & Jones, 2012; Middlewood et al. 2018; Sartory, 2017; Van Den Beemt, Ketelaar, Diepstraten, & De Laat, 2018). Chapman et al. (2016) promote an inspirational reflection about the importance of professional capital and collaborative inquiry networks for educational equity and improvement. Following this previous work, in Spain, Azorín (2019) identify the following types of PLNs, all of them closely related to the purpose of overcoming the gaps in quality, equity and inclusion: • Community networks linked to the territory, where the focus is on the interaction of schools as the key element for change and social transformation. • Socio-educational networks, these are coordinated by social and educational institutions to provide resources and to build experiences through joint inter-sector collaborative strategies. • Equity fostering networks, where networks made up of various education, social, cultural and political agents aim to provide equal opportunities for all. • School-to-school support networks, where the response to diversity here means sharing good practices, knowledge, experiences and professionals to help schools progress in different areas such as inclusion and school improvement. As can be observed, inter-school collaboration has clearly evolved to take a number of forms. The chart below categorises, in chronological order, some of the Spanish initiatives that fit in with the typology described above. All of them are generating interesting synergies to advance in this discipline and in this particular context (Table 12.1). From the information in Table 12.1, which comes from various areas of Spain, it is seen that there is lot of interest in applying PLNs to improve schooling. Proof of this is the current drive to construct educational and social environments that are more inclusive. Nevertheless, there is a need for effective public polices to support these local experiences and projects which have been shown to be mainly driven by private initiatives. This is different from countries like Chile, where there are national education projects of networking to improve schooling which are part of an ambitious large-scale reform system (Chilean Ministry of Education, 2017).

Social networks and academic support




Andalusia (Seville)

Civís, Díaz-Gibson, Longás, Fontanet and Riera (2018)

Duran y Miquel (2018)

Hernández y Navarro (2018)

School improvement networks

Peer learning networks

Inter-institutional collaboration networks

Cotrina, Gallego Andalusia and García (2017) (Seville, Cadiz and Huelva)

Andalusia (Seville)

Moriña and Melero (2016)


School-to-school network


Azorín and Arnaiz Murcia (2016)


Table 12.1 Spanish PLNs initiatives


The authors analyse the contributions of school network comprising nine schools and conceived so that teachers can work together in putting forward educational proposals to aid students in their transition from primary to secondary education. In this inter-centres work, advisors, management teams and teaching staff share strategies, reflections and experiences based on commitment and collaboration

A teacher training model that seeks to help centres incorporate cooperative learning practices into the classrooms in an effective and sustainable way through the implementation of educational programmes based on peer tutoring. The three levels of learning promoted under this initiative are: peer learning among students, among teachers and among centres

NetEduProject is based on network education and stems from the collaboration of the various educational actors to improve education. The web platform hosting this international project is aimed at leadership teams in educational organisations and those in socio-educational networks that make up the school ecosystem that is sought today and for the future

This project focuses on the development of local collaboration and support networks between schools and social organisations operating within the same district or territory. Its main aim is to create a space for collaboration and exchange of knowledge which, in turn, should lead to developing inclusive projects and prevent and reduce school disconnection among adolescents

This project highlights the importance of having strong support networks to contribute to the educational and social inclusion and the role universities are expected to play in this. The aim was to study the perspective of students with disabilities, the factors that contribute to their academic success through their family, social and academic support networks

Pilot experience involving five schools (in close proximity) participating in a network to exchange knowledge and practices aimed at enhancing inclusion. This initiative included leadership teams, teachers, university researchers, community members and others. All of them work together for a better use of professional and social capital, a more effective management of community resources in the local area, and also for greater inclusion


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Basque Country

Andalusia (Málaga)

Valencian Community, Basque Country and Murcia


Longás, De Querol, Ciraso, Riera and Úcar (2018)

Martínez et al. (2018)

Ruiz-Román, Molina-Cuesta and Alcaide (2018)

Sales et al. (2018)

Table 12.1 (continued)

Included school networks

Asperones on the Move

Collaboration and socio-educational networks



The proposal highlights the idea of collaboration with entities and bodies, such as councils, non-government organizations, universities, associations, teacher training centers and other institutions of education; volunteers, including young people, retired people, families and old students; and networking, where projects and programs for school exchanges and networks of centers of education are operating

The program “Asperones on the Move” was set up to put into practice specific actions aimed at creating educational opportunities for those children who live in a disadvantaged area of Malaga (Andalusia). This initiative involves education, social and cultural agents who collaborate in networks to increase equity and to fight against the school failure of this population at high risk of exclusion and marginalization

This is an on-going research project on social and educational innovation networks for inclusion. It analyses the process of building and developing a social-educational network for vulnerable children within a specific context. The results point to the value of this alternative form of action, and the challenges it poses, where professional, community and policy members are integrated

This project seeks to reduce social and educational gaps and to respond to child poverty through community work and networking. The aim is to improve opportunities for children aged between 0 and 18 years and their families who live in vulnerable or poverty conditions. The proposal is based on collaborative and inter-sectoral work and it incorporates the public and private sector, and enjoys university support


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C. Azorín

12.5 Future Steps It has been shown that Spain currently faces challenges of inclusion and networking in education, although there are emerging experiences that show the interest in developing PLNs beyond the sphere of education. Future steps are linked with these three key ideas: building bridges for connecting people, opening borders for better use of social and professional capital, and moving towards a systems perspective in order to achieve a more inclusive network society. Bearing in mind this route and the power of collaboration in education ecosystems, political support is needed to make this happen. What we know today is that PLNs can provide opportunities for generating and sharing knowledge within schools, they can enable teachers and professionals to direct their own development, help individuals change their practices through inquiryled approaches, and facilitate partnerships which work for a variety of stakeholders (Brown & Poortman, 2018). This includes addressing gaps and identifying barriers for networking in school settings at the micro and macro levels (Azorín & Muijs, 2017). However, in Spain, and in other countries, PLNs is a nascent discipline and time is needed to know how beneficial really are. At present, research questions on PLNs are related to sustainability, the role of distributed leadership, the inclusion progress, and a shared understanding of what networking in education means. In the short, medium and long term, an important part of the analysis will be the collective capacity power and community along with the consideration of equitable practices and outcomes. In an age of complex skills, cultural diversity and high-speed changes (Hargreaves & Ainscow 2015), there is no doubt that efforts in this direction will enable us to advance the ‘state of the art’ of PLNs as a new discipline. It is also expected that this new organizational form will illuminate and resolve real-world issues such as the ability to put collaborative competence in practice. Definitely, policy makers in Spain should consider the network potential for inclusion purposes in the training of present and future generations.

References Armstrong, P. W., & Ainscow, M. (2018). School-to-school support within a competitive education system: Views from the inside. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 29(4), 614–633. Arnaiz, P., De Haro, R. and Azorín, C. (2018). Redes de apoyo y colaboración para la mejora de la educación inclusiva. Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado, 22(2), 29–49. Azorín, C. (2017). Redes de colaboración entre escuelas inglesas para la mejora de la inclusión socioeducativa (pp. 29–48). Número Extraordinario: Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado. Azorín, C. (2018a). El método de aprendizaje cooperativo y su aplicación en las aulas. Perfiles Educativos, XI(161), 181–194.

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Azorín, C. (2018b). The journey towards inclusion: Exploring the response of teachers to the challenge of diversity in schools. Revista Colombiana de Educación, 75, 39–58. Azorín, C. (2019). The emergence of professional learning networks in Spain. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 4(1), 36–51. Azorín, C., & Ainscow, M. (2020). Guiding schools on their journey towards inclusion. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 24(1), 58–76. Azorín, C., & Arnaiz, P. (2016). Mejorando la inclusión a través de una red virtual para la colaboración intercentros. IV Congreso Internacional de Investigación e Innovación en Educación Infantil y Primaria. Murcia (Spain). 9 to 11 May. Azorín, C., Arnaiz, P. (2018). Editorial: Redes de colaboración en educación. Nuevas formas de participación y transformación social. Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado, 22(2), 1–6. Azorín, C., & Muijs, D. (2017). Networks and collaboration in Spanish education policy. Educational Research, 59(3), 273–296. Azorín, C., & Muijs, D. (2018). Redes de colaboración en educación. Evidencias recogidas en escuelas de Southampton. Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado, 22(2), 7–27. Azorín, C., & Sandoval, M. (2019). Apoyos para avanzar hacia una educación más inclusiva en los centros escolares: análisis de guías para la acción. Siglo Cero, 271, 7-27. Brown, C. (2019). Exploring the current context for Professional Learning Networks, the conditions for their success, and research needs moving forwards. Emerald Open Research, 1(1), 1–11. Brown, C., & Flood, J. (2019). Formalise, prioritise and mobilise. How school leaders secure the benefits of professional learning networks. London, England: Emerald. Brown, C., & Poortman, C. L. (2018). Networks for learning: Effective collaboration for teacher, school and system improvement. New York, United States: Routledge. Bush, C., & Barkema, H. G. (2018). Ecosystem emergence and transformational network leadership. Academy of Management Proceedings, 28(1). Calderón, I. (2018). Deprived of human rights. Disability & Society, 33(10), 1–6. Castells, M. (2010). The rise of the network society: Economy, society, and culture. Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell. CERMI (2017). Derechos humanos y discapacidad. Informe España 2016. Madrid: Ediciones CINCA. Chapman, C., & Muijs, D. (2014). Does School-to-School collaboration promote school improvement? A study of the impact of school federations on students outcomes. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 12(3), 200–226. Chapman, C., & Fullan, M. (2007). Collaboration and partnership for equitable improvement: Towards a networked learning system? School Leadership and Management, 27(3), 207–211. Chapman, C., Chestnutt, H., Friel, N., Hall, S., & Lowden, K. (2016). Professional capital and collaborative inquiry networks for educational equity and improvement? Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 1(3), 178–197. Chilean Ministry of Education. (2017). Estudio sobre la implementación de las redes de mejoramiento escolar. Chile: División de Educación General. Civís, M., & Longás, J. (2015). La colaboración interinstitucional como respuesta al desafío de la inclusión socioeducativa. Análisis de 4 experiencias de trabajo en red a nivel local en Cataluña. Educación XX1, 18(1), 213–236. Civís, M., Díaz-Gibson, J., Longás, J., Fontanet, A. & Riera, J. (2018). Neteduproject: Avances en la herramienta de análisis “LIC” para la mejora de los ecosistemas educativos. Congreso International-XXXI Seminario Interuniversitario de Pedagogía Social. Palma (Spain). 21 to 23 November 2018. Cotrina, M., Gallego, C., & García, M. (2017). Redes de colaboración interinstitucional en la búsqueda de alternativas inclusivas al desenganche y abandono escolar. In A. RodríguezMartín (Ed.), Prácticas innovadoras inclusivas: retos y oportunidades (pp. 2403–2411). Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo.


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Daly, A. J. & Stoll, L. (2018). Looking back and moving forward. Where to next for networks of learning? In C. Brown & C. L. Poortman (Eds.), Networks for learning. Effective collaboration for teacher school and system improvement (pp. 204–205). Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge. Díaz-Gibson, J., Civís, M., Daly, A. J., Longás, J., & Riera, J. (2017). Networked leadership in educational collaborative networks. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 45(6), 1040–1059. Downey, C. (2018). Utilising social network analysis to identify the structural features of teachers’ knowledge and resource-sharing networks within schools. Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado, 22(2), 133–159. Duran, D., & y Miquel, E. (2018). Hacia la sostenibilidad del aprendizaje cooperativo. Cuadernos de pedagogía, 486, 60–63. Echeita, G., Monarca, H. A., Sandoval, M., & Simón, C. (2012). Cómo fomentar las redes naturales de apoyo en el marco de una escuela inclusiva. Sevilla: Editorial MAD. Ehren, M., & Perryman, J. (2018). Accountability of school networks: Who is accountable to whom and for what? Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 46(6), 942–959. Godfrey, D., & Brown, C. (2019). An eco-system for research engaged schools. Reforming education through research. London, England: Routledge. Hargreaves, A., & Ainscow, M. (2015). The top and bottom of leadership and change. Phi Delta Kappa, 97(3), 42–48. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Hargreaves, A., & O’Connor, M. T. (2018). Collaborative professionalism: When teaching together means learning for all. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Harris, A. (2010). Leading system transformation. School Leadership and Management, 30(3), 197–207. Harris, A. (2011). System improvement through collective capacity building. Journal of Education Administration, 49(6), 624–636. Harris, A., & Jones, M. (2012). Connecting professional learning: Leading effective collaborative enquiry across teaching school alliances. West Midlands, England: National College for School Leadership. Harris, A., & Jones, M. (2015). Transforming education systems: Comparative and critical perspectives on school leadership. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35(1), 311–318. Harris, A., & Jones, M. (2018). Why context matters: a comparative perspective on education reform and policy implementation. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 17(3), 195–207. Harris, A., Jones, M., & Huffman, J. (2017). Teachers leading educational reform: The power of professional learning communities. London, England: Routledge Press. Hernández, E., & Navarro, M. J. (2018). La participación en redes escolares locales para promover la mejora educativa, un estudio de caso. Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado, 22(2), 71–90. Longás, J., De Querol, R., Ciraso, A., Riera, J., & Úcar, X. (2018). Redes de acción socioeducativa contra la pobreza infantil. Evaluación de la percepción del impacto CaixaProinfancia. Revista de Estudios y Experiencias en Educación, 2, 109–126. Lozano, J., Ballesta, F. J., Castillo, I. S. & Cerezo, M. C. (2018). El vínculo de la escuela con el territorio: una experiencia de inclusión educativa. Profesorado. Revista de Currículum y Formación del Profesorado, 22(2), 207–226. Martínez, B., Alonso, I., Martínez, I., & Alonso, M. J. (2018). Colaboración y redes socioeducativas para la inclusión de la infancia vulnerable. Educatio Siglo XXI, 36(2), 21–42. Middlewood, D., Abbott, I., & Robinson, S. (2018). Collaborative school leadership. Managing a group of schools. London, England: Bloomsbury Academic. Moriña, A., & Melero, N. (2016). Redes de apoyo sociales y académicas de estudiantes con discapacidad que contribuyen a su inclusión en la enseñanza superior. Prisma Social. Revista de Ciencias sociales, 16, 32–59.

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Muijs, D. (2015). Improving schools through collaboration: A mixed methods study of school-toschool partnerships in the primary sector. Oxford Review of Education, 41(5), 563–586. Muijs, D., & Rumyantseva, N. (2014). Coopetition in education: Collaborating in a competitive environment. Journal of Educational Change, 15, 1–18. Muijs, D., Chapman, C., Ainscow, M., & West, M. (2011). Networking and collaboration in education. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. Navarro, M. J., & Hernández, E. (2017). La colaboración en red entre profesorado de aulas específicas de autismo para promover el intercambio profesional para la inclusión educativa. Perfiles Educativos, XXXIX(156), 58–71. Nguyen, X. T. (2015). The journey to inclusion. Rottherdam: Sense Publishers. OECD. (2018). Education policy outlook 2018: Putting student learning at the centre. Paris: OECD Publishing. Rincón-Gallardo, S., & Fullan, M. (2016). Essential features of effective networks in education. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 1(1), 5–22. Ruiz-Román, C., Molina-Cuesta, L., & Alcaide, R. (2018). Trabajo en red y acompañamiento socioeducativo con estudiantes de secundaria en desventaja social. Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado, 22(3), 453–474. Sales, A., Moliner, O., Amiana, J. F., & Lozano, J. (2018). Escuela incluida: Recursos y estrategias para la participación ciudadana. Revista Mexicana de Investigación Educativa, 23(77), 433–458. Sartory, K. (2017). Support for school-to-school networks: How networking teachers perceive support activities of a local coordinating agency. British Journal of Educational Studies, 65(2), 143–165. Save the Children (2017). Desinherited. Childhood Inequality, Equal Opportunities And Public Policy. Madrid: Save the Children. Save the Children (2018). Mézclate conmigo. De la segregación económica a la educación inclusiva. Madrid: Save the Children. Schleicher, A. (2018). World class: How to build a 21st-century school system, strong performers and successful reformers in education. Paris: OECD Publishing. Slee, R. (2013). How do we make inclusive education happen when exclusion is a political predisposition? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(8), 895–907. Slee, R. (2018). Inclusive education isn’t dead. It just smells funny. London, England: Routledge. Trust, T., Carpenter, J. P., & Krutka, D. G. (2018). Leading by learning: Exploring the professional learning networks of instructional leaders. Educational Media International, 55(2), 137–152. UNICEF (2017a). Children of austerity. Impact of great recession on child poverty in rich countries. Oxford: UNICEF. UNICEF. (2017b). Los factores de la exclusión educativa en España: mecanismos, perfiles y espacios de intervención. Madrid: UNICEF. UNICEF (2017c). Reducir las diferencias. El poder de invertir en los niños más pobres. Nueva York: UNICEF. United Nations. (2006). Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. New York: United Nations. United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (2017). Report of the investigation related to spain under article 6 of the optional protocol. Geneva: United Nations. Van Den Beemt, A., Ketelaar, E., Diepstraten, I., & De Laat, M. (2018). Teachers’ motives for learning in networks: Costs, rewards and community interest. Educational Research, 60(1), 31–46. Vesterinen, O., Kangas, M., Krokfors, L., Kopisto, K., & Salo, L. (2017). Inter-professional pedagogical collaboration between teachers and their out-of-school partners. Educational Studies, 43(2), 231–242.


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Cecilia Azorin is Associate Professor in the Department of Didactics and School Organisation, Faculty of Education, University of Murcia, Spain. She has received the First National Award in Pedagogy (Spain, 2019) and the Michael Fullan Emerging Scholar Award (Canada, 2019). She is an active researcher in the field of school effectiveness and school improvement. Her area of expertise is in inclusion, leadership and collaborative networking.

Chapter 13

Inventing the Future: Why International Borrowing is no Longer Sufficient for Improving Education Yong Zhao

13.1 Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to examine the consequences of mutual borrowing of educational policies and practices between the East and the West. Drawing upon a wide variety of historical, cultural, and international assessment data, the analyses found that the mutual borrowing is unlikely to improve education to the extent that the future world demands. Thus, the chapter concludes that instead of wasting resources and time on learning from each other’s past, education systems around the world should work on inventing a new paradigm of education. Britain’s recent efforts to import Chinese education made the headlines across the globe. Major global media outlets such as the New York Times (Qin, 2017), the Guardian (Haas & Weale, 2017), and the BBC (Satchell, 2014) covered British government’s actions to improve education by bringing in Chinese math teachers and math textbooks. There are many reasons that Britain’s attempts to learn from China were deemed newsworthy, but one of them was perhaps the sudden reverse of perceived relationships between China and Britain. After all, China has been perceived as a student of the West for at least a century and half, ever since Britain defeated the great empire in multiple wars in the 1800 s and forced it to replace its traditional education system with Western-style modern schooling (Zhao, 2014). Thus, the idea that China has become the teacher and Britain the student is surprising, shocking, and newsworthy. Britain is not the only newly emerged admirer of education in China. The United States and a host of other Western countries have been attracted to education in China over the past few decades (Jensen, 2012; Stevenson & Stigler, 1994; Tucker, 2011a, b, This chapter is adapted from an article published in the ECNU Review of Education. Zhao (2018c). Y. Zhao (B) School of Education, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 M. Jones and A. Harris (eds.), Leading and Transforming Education Systems, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 52, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4996-0_13



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2014, 2016). The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has recommended that China is (or to be used as) a model of educational excellence for the world (OECD, 2011). China is not the only education systems in the world that Britain and other Western education systems wish to emulate either. Other East Asian education systems such as Singapore and Hong Kong have also been the object of admiration. As such China is used in this chapter as an example of East Asian education and America/Britain of Western education. China’s ascendance to global education stardom is a result of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the world’s largest triennial test in math, reading, and science administered to 15-year olds in more than 70 education systems around the globe. In 2009, China, represented by students from Shanghai, shocked the world with its top performance on the PISA. Three years later, Chinese students aced the PISA again. The stunning performances turned China into the teacher of education lessons for not only Britain but also other education systems such as the United States and Australia, whose PISA performances have been at best mediocre in comparison (Jensen, 2012; OECD, 2011; Tucker, 2011a, b, 2014, 2016; Zhao, 2014). Understandably China is and should be proud of its newly acquired status as an exporter of educational ideas, but it is also keenly aware of the inadequacies in its own education. While it is happy to export ideas, China continues to look to the West for ideas to improve its education. It has been continuously engaged in massive education reforms to make teaching more Western (Zhao, 2014, 2015a). Chinese parents continue to be infatuated with Western style education. This explains the seeming irony that while the U.K. is importing Chinese education, many British schools, both private and state schools, have been opening branch campuses in China, making enormous profits from Chinese students eager to experience a British education (Hurst, 2016; Sharma, 2016; West-Knights, 2017).

13.2 Lessons that Cannot Be Learned The ostensibly absurd, almost comic, mutual love affair between America/Britain and China, and to a larger extent between Western education systems and those in East Asia, is actually driven by rational reasoning. Each of them sees the other holding the secrets for improving education of their own. On the one hand, the Western education systems that have suffered from low performance in international assessments believe China and other East Asian education systems have found the way to make sure their students learn much more effectively than their Western counterparts (Barber, Donnelly, & Rizvi, 2012; Barber & Mourshed, 2007; Jensen, 2012; OECD, 2011; Stevenson & Stigler, 1994; Tucker, 2011a, 2014, 2016). On the other hand, China and other East Asian education systems believe that Western education have the secret potion for growing creative, innovative, confident, and entrepreneurial individuals (Gao, 2003, 2015; West-Knights, 2017; Zhao, 2014).

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The observations are backed up with evidence. If quality of education is defined as academic performances measured with international assessments such as PISA and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), another triennial test in math and science of 4th and 8th graders in over 40 education systems, China and other East Asian education systems indeed have achieved excellence. They are thus worth learning from. Although Mainland China has never participated in TIMSS, its PISA performance warrants its status of education master. Other systems that the West has identified as teachers include Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, and Singapore, which have performed well in both TIMSS and PISA. It’s worth noting that Hong Kong and Singapore were former British colonies, while Japan, Korea, and Taiwan have been significantly influenced by the United States both before and after the World War II. China’s admiration of the capacity for innovation in the West is also well founded. Great Britain gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. The U.S. has produced the most patents, Nobel Prize winners, and most influential technological breakthroughs in modern times. As a whole, West Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States have so far been the most prosperous economies driven by technological advancement. Most of the inventions that transformed human societies in modern times have been made in Western countries. Inventions and discoveries are made by people who are creative. Creative genes should be equally distributed in all societies. Why have Western countries had more creative individuals than the populous China? The reasoning points to education (Lin, 2006; Zhao, 2014; Zheng, 2013). Somehow, Western education systems are more effective in cultivating innovative and creative talents. Despite the logic and evidence underlying the efforts to learn from each other, both China and Western education systems are likely to be disappointed. The lessons they try to learn from each other are very unlikely to lead the results they expect because these lessons cannot be learned through simple emulation or systems replacements. The results both sides want are not directly derived from the education system, but rather from the interactions between education and culture of the respective systems. In essence, the education paradigm in operation in both China and the Western education systems is exactly the same paradigm, but realized differently due to cultural differences.

13.3 Same Paradigm of Education The predominant education paradigm in the world, of course including China, Britain, the U.S., Singapore, and other places, is fundamentally the same. It starts with a predetermined curriculum that prescribes the knowledge and skills students should have at certain ages (grades). Students are put into groups based on their age. An adult teacher is in charge of teaching the group of students the prescribed knowledge and skills. The goal is to have all students master the prescribed knowledge and skills in a similar pace so that they can all have the required knowledge and skill at the


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end of their school experiences. Students are required to demonstrate their mastery, through one to two large standardized tests, an accumulation of testing results, or both at some point in their education career. Their levels of mastery are used as indication of their relative merit, which is used to allocate opportunities such as advancement in education or employment in a resulting and continuing meritocracy (Young, 1959, 2001; Zhao, 2012, 2016a, 2018a).

13.4 Variations in Realization Just like organisms with the same genetic code adapt to different ecosystems and result in variations of characteristics, the same education paradigm adapts to different cultures and results in variations. All aspects of the paradigm can vary. For example, a culture can determine what is included in the prescribed curricula: some may include a broad range of subjects and others less broad. Cultures can also have different arrangements for the relative importance of subjects. For example, some cultures accord math and literacy much more importance than other subjects such as arts and music while others may treat them equally. Different cultures may have different views of the sequence of knowledge and skills children should have within a curriculum and within each subject. For instance, some societies may teach Physics before Biology and others Biology before Physics. Moreover, who gets to determine curriculum varies a great deal. In some societies such as China and most East Asian systems, the curriculum is determined centrally by one body of authority and then applied to the entire nation, while in some other societies such as the United States, the authority to determine curriculum is reserved for each state. Likewise, different societies may have different arrangements of teaching, for example, some societies have large class sizes with the teachers teaching few hours while other societies have smaller class sizes with teachers teaching more hours. The manner in which students demonstrate mastery also varies. In some societies, mastery is only demonstrated through one standardized tests at the end of the schooling experience, while in some other cultures mastery can be demonstrated cumulatively through performance in each course. Additionally, but perhaps more importantly, culture plays a role outside the formal arrangement of schooling. It affects the behaviors of students, teachers, school leaders, and parents, resulting in implicit curricula or hidden curricula (Gatto, 2002; Wren, 1999) and shadow education (Baker, Akiba, LeTendre, & Wiseman, 2001; Bray, 1999). While both hidden curricula and shadow education have been typically used with a derogatory connotation that exacerbates inequality, they are used here simply to mean education experiences of students that are not explicitly prescribed in the formal curriculum. In this regard, students in different cultures have vastly different experiences beyond the formal curriculum and instruction. The different realizations of the same paradigm in different cultures are the sources of variation in the perceived outcomes. Consequently, any attempt to borrow the

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educational policies, strategies, or practices is doomed to fail unless it also borrows the culture. But cultural transplantation is an extremely difficult task and very often undesirable and unwanted.

13.5 Chinese Performance as a Cultural Effect Despite the claims of the OECD and some outside observers that the result of PISA reflects the effects of universally portable lessons in education policies and practices, for examples see (Jensen, 2012; OECD, 2011; Tucker, 2011a, 2014), more evidence points to culture as the factor that contributed to Chinese students as top performers (Cheng, 2011; Meyer & Schiller, 2013; Zhao, 2014, 2016e). A study of PISA performance of Chinese immigrant students in New Zealand and Australia found that the Chinese immigrant students’ performance is more similar to their peers in Shanghai than in their local schools (Feniger & Lefstein, 2014). There is no evidence that Chinese are genetically more likely to score higher on the PISA. So what the Chinese immigrants carry with them is the Chinese culture. Since they attend the same schools as their Australian and New Zealand peers, the Chinese immigrant students should have performed more like their schoolmates if schools made significant difference. It is apparent that “cultural background appears to be more consequential for the educational attainment of Chinese immigrant students than exposure to the educational systems of Australia or New Zealand” (Feniger & Lefstein, 2014, p. 845). Likewise, importing teachers and textbooks is unlikely to change the culture in British schools. The policies and practices that have been identified as aspects of the education system that led to China’s excellent performance are the products of the Chinese culture and society instead of an inherent quality of the education paradigm. For example, valuing education and the belief in effort rather than innate ability have been two of the most commonly suggested factors contributing to Chinese students’ success (Chen, Lee, & Stevenson, 1996; Cheng, 2011; Coughlan, 2012; OECD, 2011). “There is a high value placed on education and a belief that effort rather than innate ability is the key to success,” wrote Mark Boylan, a UK professor of education, “East Asian researchers usually point to this as the most important factor for this regions high test results” (Boylan, 2016). But both valuing education and the belief in efforts are not inherent features of the education paradigm. Instead they are the traits of the Confucian culture, reinforced by over a thousand year old tradition of Imperial Exams or Keju. “For centuries, Chinese people have believed in the value of education for the nation’s well-being as well as for their own personal advancement,” (Chen et al., 1996, p. 83). The PISA team reached a similar conclusion: “China has a long tradition of valuing education highly” (OECD, 2011, p. 86). The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof noted that “the greatest strength of the Chinese system is the Confucian reverence for education that is steeped into the culture” (Kristof, 2011). It is clear these two most


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important factors cannot be easily imported to Britain, America, or any other Western countries. More important, the long tradition of valuing education in China is a misnomer because it is not actually a long tradition of valuing education. Rather it is a tradition of pursuing the extrinsic reward of passing exams through studying. For thousands of years, China has successfully instilled in its people the idea that the only path for upward social mobility is through passing exams. Hence the entire society is devoted to helping children pass exams and compete through exams. Along the way, the Chinese people have also been convinced that everyone has an equal opportunity to pass the exams as long as they work hard. The result is then a sharp focus on academic subjects included in high stakes tests, the College Entrance Exams or Gaokao, the modern reincarnation of the Keju in China (Cheng, 2011; Zhao, 2014). This culture tradition results in the observed policies and practices the West wants to borrow from China: hardworking students devoted only to studying, devoted parents who sacrifice anything for their children’s study, schools and teachers focusing exclusively on academic studies, and efforts to ensure teachers to be masters of the content they teach (Zhao, 2018b). Another feature that the West wishes to borrow from Chinese education is its system of centralized and standardized curriculum and high stakes testing. The system has been credited for high performance in China and thus recommended for adoption in other education systems (Tucker, 2011a, b). But the system is the result of long tradition of centralized governance in China and the absolute authority placed in the central government, another trait of the Chinese culture and found in many East Asian education systems. This culture trait is not necessarily shared in the West.

13.6 Creativity in America as an Accident Just like the West cannot borrow lessons from China to improve its academic achievement, China cannot borrow lessons from the West, in particular the United States with its stunning achievement in science and technology since the World War II, to cultivate more creative individuals because the American education paradigm is the exactly the same as that in operation in China. The perceived capacity for cultivating creative individuals is the outcome of culture, indirectly realized through schooling. In other words, the fact that the U.S. happens to have more creative individuals so far is not an intended consequence of their education systems, but rather it is an accidental outcome of its culture. There is no doubt that American education follows the same paradigm as that China follows: equipping children with the same set of predetermined knowledge and skills. However, the implementation is drastically different from that in China due to the cultural differences between the two countries for cultural and political reasons. First, the school system in the U.S. is extremely decentralized as a result of its decentralized government system (Tocqueville, 2003). At one time, America had

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over 100,000 school districts, in essence more than 100,000 governments, in the U.S. education system. Thus, America at one time could have had over 100,000 different curricula and definitions of educational outcomes. Even today, after many efforts to centralize the education authorities, the 50 states in the U.S. retain constitutional control of education within the state. Hence, at the least, the U.S. has about 50 different state curricula and determinations of educational outcomes, while China has one. The decentralized local control and political culture in education have made it almost impossible for America to have one curriculum for all children. For example, the Common Core State Initiative (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2011) attempted to push for a national core curriculum only in math and literacy, but met with great resistance from some states (Shimshock, 2017; Ujifusa, 2014). Second, Americans do not treat academic achievement, particularly test scores, as the only outcome of education. Thus parents, teachers, the general public, and students have more diverse views of what education success means. This is partly due to original Puritanical emphasis of equality and individualism (Hofstede, 1984, 2001; Tocqueville, 2003), partly due to more diverse opportunities, partly due to the influence of the tradition of child-centered education philosophy (Dewey, 1938; Rousseau, 2011), and partly due to influence of an immigration culture. Additionally, there is no tradition of one central government controlling and allocating all social and economic resources. Moreover, American higher education institutions enjoy tremendous autonomy and thus have more than one way to select students. Consequently, parents, teachers, students, and schools do not have a uniform and exclusive focus on academic achievement in a narrow set of subjects. Test scores in a few subjects are of much lower stakes in the U.S. than in China. American parents, teachers, and students are not nearly uniformly obsessed with test scores as parents, students, and teachers in China. Schools offer a much broader set of activities than in China. Teachers pay less attention to mastery of prescribed knowledge and skills. Not all students are equally interested in being the best test takers, and they don’t want to spend all their time on schoolwork. There is no uniform pressure on parents to ensure that their students do well in schools. As can be expected, the American version of the education paradigm is awfully ineffective to ensure that all students in America master the same set of knowledge and skills, which explains why American students have never performed well on international assessments (Zhao, 2016b). But it is this ineffective system that accidentally produced the creative individuals in America. It is accidental because the operating paradigm of education in America, being the same as that in China, does not have as its goal to prepare creative individuals. It is poor implementation, due to the American culture, that accidentally gives opportunities for creative individuals to survive (Zhao, 2009a, 2012). To be creative is to be different. Thus, creative people often have ideas, behaviors, beliefs, and life styles that deviate from the norm and tradition. They may also be interested in different domains than what is offered in schools. Research on the social and contextual influences of creativity has found that in general tolerance of deviation from tradition and the norm resulted in more creativity (Florida, 2002, 2012). Schools have been generally found to suppress creativity because they demand conformity


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and obedience (Beghetto, 2013; Gajda, Beghetto, & Karwowski, 2017). “Most young children are naturally curious and highly imaginative… after children have attended school for a while, they become more cautious and less innovative … Unfortunately, it is necessary to conclude from the investigations of many scholars, that our schools are the major culprits. Teachers, peers, and the educational system as a whole all diminish children’s urge to express their creative possibilities” (Dacey & Lennon, 1998, p. 69). Researchers have also found a significantly negative relationship between high school class rank and students’ confidence to generate creative ideas (Pretz & Kaufman, 2015). In a related line of work, researchers found that extra-curricular activities tended to be a stronger predictor of creative expression in college applicants than traditional admissions factors, such as SAT scores and high school rank (Cotter, Pretz, & Kaufman, 2016). It is thus not hard to understand why American has more creative individuals than in China. First, American children are exposed less to the creativity killing machine— the school because “American children spend less time in academic activities than Chinese and Japanese children do in terms of hours spent at school each day and days spent in school each year” (Stevenson & Stigler, 1992, p. 52–53). American children also spend vastly less time on school work at home than their Chinese peers because most American children do not view schooling as central to their lives, while most Chinese children do (Stevenson & Stigler, 1992). Second, conformity is emphasized much less in American classrooms than in Chinese schools because teachers have more diverse views of success and are more tolerant of differences. Unlike Chinese teachers who are keen to ensure all students progress at a similar rate and thus “make an explicit effort during the early months of elementary school to teach children techniques and skills that will allow them to function effectively in a group” (Stevenson & Stigler, 1994, p. 62). Inflexible rules and standard routines are just the right tool to squelch creativity (Beghetto, 2013; Dacey & Packer, 1992; Gajda et al., 2017; Stevenson & Stigler, 1994). Third, American parents’ broader conception of student success and less emphasis on external indicators allow students to “feel good” even if they excel in areas other than academic subjects. It also enables, if not encourages, children to pursue their interests and thus preserve some level of intrinsic motivation, which is essential for creativity (Beghetto, 2013; Beghetto & Kaufman, 2010; Dacey & Lennon, 1998; Zhao, 2018a). On the contrary, Chinese parents and the education system’s emphasis on external indicators and high expectations naturally lead to less self-confidence and externalization of motivation, which is detrimental to creativity (Leung, 2002; OECD, 2017; Zhao, 2012, 2014). Lastly, America’s lack of a uniform centralized and standardized curriculum provides more opportunities for students to explore their interests. Although the paradigm is the same, what is prescribed and emphasized in each school district, each school, and even each state can be different. Thus, American students have a more diverse education experience, while the Chinese standardized and centralized curriculum, serves to squeeze opportunities for individual differences. Teaching at the same pace, following the same sequence, using the same textbooks for all students

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leaves little room for exploring individual interests and accommodating different learning styles. In summary, education in China and the U.S. and to a larger extent East Asian education systems and Western education systems, all operate under the same paradigm to instill in students prescribed knowledge and skills. But due to cultural differences, the implementation varies. The Confucian culture and the traditional centralized control of the society makes the Chinese implementation very effective in focusing the attention of education on a set of narrow outcomes. As a result, the Chinese implementation is extremely effective and efficient in ensuring that students master the prescribed knowledge and skills and demonstrating their mastery in standardized testing. In the United States, the cultural diversity, local control, and broader definition of success makes the implementation less effective in ensuring all students master the same knowledge and skills. But this less effective implementation also allows individuals who deviate and are different to survive. These individuals are the creative ones China desires. In other words, what results in Chinese student’s superb performance is what causes China’s failure of creative individuals. Similarly, what leads to more creative individuals in America is what results in the mediocre performance of American students on international tests. This is called the side effects of education (Zhao, 2017, 2018b). Thus, if the borrowing between China (East Asian education systems) and the U.S. or UK (Western education systems) were successful, they would have traded places. However, because the effect is largely cultural, the borrowing is unlikely to be successful.

13.7 The Challenge Driving the mutual borrowing between the West and East is the strong desire to improve education for the future. Efforts to tinker education toward Utopia have been ongoing for a long time (Tyack & Cuban, 1995) without signs of significant progress, especially in comparison to the transformative changes in other fields such as medicine, agriculture, and information technology (Bryk, 2015; Slavin, 2002; Whitehurst, 2002). At the same time, the transformative changes brought about by technological advancement pose great challenges to education (Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2014; Schwab, 2015; World Economic Forum, 2016; Zhao, 2015b). Unless education catches up in this race against technological changes (Goldin & Katz, 2008), the human society risk economic depression, political turmoil, and social unrest as has been witnessed at the turn of the last century.


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13.8 Race Between Education and Technology The challenge education faces today is the redefinition of the value of knowledge, skills, and talents. As a consequence of technological changes, societies’ need for skills, knowledge, and talents change accordingly (Goldin & Katz, 2008). For example, in the Stone Age, knowledge and skills to work with stones were valuable, but they became less valuable in the Bronze Age. Likewise, when horse wagons were the primary transportation tool, knowledge and skills related to horses and horse wagons were of great value, but their value decreased when automobiles replaced horse wagons. Education is thus in a constant race against technological changes. Whenever massive technological changes cause large scale and widespread redefinition of the value of skills and knowledge, education needs to make changes to equip future members of societies with the skills and knowledge needed in the new society instead of continuing to teach those that have lost value. Thus education needs to ask “what knowledge is of most worth” often in response to technological changes, as exemplified by British philosopher Herbert Spencer’s essay titled What Knowledge is Most Worth in 1859 in response to the massive changes brought upon society by the Industrial Revolution at the time (Spencer, 1911). We need to ask this question again. Technological changes over the past few decades have been nothing but transformative. The anticipated changes in the near future are even more so, ushering in a new era for humanity. The new era has been called the Second Machine Age fueled by artificial intelligence in contrast to the First Machine Age driven by the steam engines and electricity (Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2014); the Fourth Industrial Revolution in contrast to the First, Second, and Third Industrial Revolutions (Schwab, 2015); or Age of Artificial Intelligence (Tegmark, 2017). The names may be different, but the idea is the same: human beings are faced with another major challenge brought about by their own creations.

13.9 Redefining the Value of Knowledge and Skills This challenge has two most fundamental implications. First, technology has rendered a wide range of skills, knowledge, and talents less valuable or completely valueless. Machines have already replaced millions of human workers in manufacturing, construction, banking, retail, and many other traditional industries. Many traditional industries have disappeared. It is certain that as technology further advances, more jobs will be performed by machines and more industries will disappear or be transformed (Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2014; Schwab, 2015; World Economic Forum, 2016; Zhao, 2009a, 2012). Second, technological advances have also created new opportunities for traditionally undervalued skills and talents (Florida, 2002, 2012; Pink, 2006; Trilling & Fadel, 2009; Wagner, 2012; Zhao, 2009a, 2012). With the loss of jobs in physical retail stores came an increase in jobs for online

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shop owners. With the decline in manufacturing jobs came the growth in computer jobs. The knowledge and skills that have become less valuable in the era are those required for routine, mechanical, and repetitive tasks. Traditionally the same task (job) typically required lots of individuals possessing the same set of skills. Telephone switchboard operators, assembly line workers, bank tellers, and automobile drivers are some of the examples. With machines better at performing the repetitive, mechanical, and routine tasks at ever lowering cost, human beings need to become more human and less robotic. The new economy has many different kinds of jobs but each job requires only a few people because of hyper-specialization (Malone, Laubacher, & Johns, 2011). Thus, the new skills that have become more valuable are social-emotional competency, creativity, entrepreneurial capabilities, and uniquely great talents (Auerswald, 2012; Florida, 2002, 2012; Pink, 2006; Wagner, 2012; Zhao, 2009a, 2012). Moreover, technology has also created new challenges facing humanity such as environmental sustainability, rising gap between the poor and rich, international terrorism, organized crimes, and privacy (Glenn, Gordon, & Florescu, 2009; Szombatfalvy, 2010). These challenges are global in nature and transcend national borders. They cannot be addressed by any one organization or nation. Thus, education has the added challenge to help individuals become global citizens who are not only concerned about the interest of their local communities or nations (Asia Society, 2008; Hunter, White, & Godbey, 2006; Noddings, 2005; Zhao, 2009a, b). However, the traditional paradigm of education is about equipping all children with the same set of skills and knowledge. Its goal is to produce a homogenous workforce with similar abilities. It is not about developing individual talents, creativity, innovative skills, or entrepreneurial capabilities. It is only concerned with cognitive skills, with little attention to social emotional competencies. Moreover, the traditional education paradigm is typically focusing on preparing children for the local physical community they live in, with little concern about the broad global human community (Zhao, 2009a). In order to prepare children to become successful in the new era, education needs much more than tinkering or improvement. It needs a transformation, a paradigm shift (Wagner, 2008, 2012; Zhao, 2012).

13.10 A New Paradigm Luckily, we have the essential raw materials and tools to start conceptualizing and building a new paradigm of education for the future. Advances in understanding of human nature and human learning in recent years provide the theoretical basis for conceptualizing a new paradigm. Technological advances provide added tools for developing a new paradigm. Moreover, the essential basics of the new paradigm have been put into practice around the world and there are valuable lessons to draw upon.


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13.11 The Raw Materials Human potentials are the raw materials the new education paradigm relies on to prepare the diverse, creative, and entrepreneurial members of the future society when smart machines perform tasks that require homogenous and mechanical skills. Human beings have been found to have the potential for diversity, creativity, and entrepreneurial capabilities. They also have the natural psychological need for self-actualization, for achieving greatness. First, modern research has found that human beings differ on many dimensions. Individuals possess different strengths and weaknesses in talents, with some having more talent in music but less in sports, some being more talented in numbers and logic but less in language, and still some possessing more potential for art but less for interpersonal understanding (Gardner, 1983, 2006). Human beings have also been found to have different profiles of interests and intrinsic motivations with some more driven by power, some by curiosity, some by physical movement, and still some by social connections (Reiss, 2000, 2004). Additionally, humans are born and live in different environments that can strengthen or weaken their innate potentials and motivation. As a result of the interaction between their naturally born capacities and experiences with the environments, or nature via nurture, every human individual has a jagged profile of strengths and weaknesses, constituting the vast diversity of human abilities and interests (Ehrlich, 2000; Pinker, 2003; Ridley, 2003; Rose & Fischer, 2011; Zhao, 2018a). But the diversity had to be suppressed in massproduction economies that required a more homogenous workforce. Second, the potential to create is a natural human attribute. Human beings are born with the capacity to create (DeFelipe, 2011; Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009; Nettle, 2001; Richards, 2007; Runco, 2007). It is the natural born capacity for being creative that enables human beings to learn to adapt to the different environments they are born in. But again, human creativity needed to be curtailed for practical reasons, especially in societies when workers and citizens were required to follow orders and directions, comply with rules, maintain the status quo, and obey social norms. Third, humans are born with the foundation to be entrepreneurial (Zhao, 2012, 2018a). Entrepreneurs have been traditionally used to refer to people who establish and operating businesses, but the definition of entrepreneurs has expanded beyond business people to include social entrepreneurs (Dees, 1998; Martin & Osberg, 2007), intrapreneurs (Swearingen, 2008), and entrepreneurs in the public sector (Harris & Kinney, 2004). In essence, an entrepreneur is one who takes innovative actions to proactively create value for others and the world (Drucker, 1985; Kirzner, 1999; Mount, 2009; Nicolaou, Shane, Cherkas, & Spector, 2008; Shane, 2010; Shapero & Sokol, 1982; Ward, 2004). Human beings are born with the desire, the natural need to connect with others, to be of value to other people, and to care and be cared by others (Compton, Hoffman, & Compton, 2012; Deci & Vansteenkiste, 2004). To achieve genuine happiness, human beings need to have a sense being valuable to others and making contribution the larger world beyond themselves (Koltko-Rivera, 2006; Seligman, 2002, 2011).

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Fourth, human beings desire to achieve greatness. The desire to realize one’s potential, or to achieve self-actualization, is the highest level of human needs in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1954, 1999). According to Maslow, self-actualization is key to ultimate psychological health. Only when one’s profound capacities are actualized, can he be truly happy and healthy mentally or be at peace with himself: A musician must make music; an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be (Maslow, 1954, p. 93).

Finally, research suggests children are capable of self-organizing their learning without being explicitly instructed by an adult (Elmore, 2011; Mitra, 2012). Children are born learners (Smilkstein, 2011). They are motivated and are able to learn on their own (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Gopnik, Meltzoff, & Kuhl, 1999; Meltzoff, 1999; Smilkstein, 2011). They can learn from their peers through collaborative learning (Dillenbourg, 1999; Hamada, 2014; Hmelo-Silver, 2013). They can learn by doing through authentic project-based learning (Bailey, 2016; Dewey, 1938, 1998; Diffily & Sassman, 2002; Thomas, 2000). They construct knowledge, test hypotheses, and formulate new ideas through exploring and experimenting socially and individually (Bransford et al., 2000; Harel & Papert, 1991; Papert, 1993; Piaget, 1957).

13.12 Tools at Hand We have the raw materials that can be developed into successful members of a society in the age of the smart machines. The natural capacities of our children support and desire a new paradigm of education. Moreover, we also have the tools to develop a new paradigm of education. First, technology has advanced so much that it is a reality that one can learn anything, at anytime, with anyone, from anywhere (Bonk, 2011; Christensen, Horn, & Johnson, 2010). Thus, learning does not need to be confined to the classroom, the school, or any physically isolated place. Learning does not need to depend on the physical presence of a teacher either. This reality broadens learning opportunities beyond schools. Thus schools and teachers do not need to be concerned that they must have all the expertise in order to support the development of a diversity of interests and talents and accommodate different learning styles and patterns (Bransford et al., 2000; Fischer & Bidell, 2006; Fischer & Silvern, 1985; Tomlinson, 2001). Second, globalization has significantly increased human interactions and movement across cultural and political borders. Learning, too, can be globally organized (Davis & Lindsay, 2012; Friedman, 2007; Zhao, 2009a, 2012). Learning across national and geographical boundaries can be as common as learning in the same classroom. Thus, children can learn from, with, and for people in remote places. Engagement in global learning activities is essential for developing global perspectives and competencies.


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Third, theories and practices that support the new educational paradigm have existed for centuries and advanced even more in recent years (Dewey, 1938; Hewitt, 2001; Rousseau, 2011; Zhao, 2012). There has been a competing education philosophy against the traditionally dominant paradigm. Instead of making children acquire prescribed knowledge and skills, this alternative paradigm is about helping children become themselves. This paradigm does not presuppose or predefine what knowledge or skills are worthwhile. In this paradigm, the “curriculum” is one that follows the child. It begins with the children: what they are interested in, what excites them, what they are capable of, and how they learn. This paradigm does not assume all children are the same; therefore, it does not impose artificial standards or age-based, gradelevel expectations. It helps children move forward from where they are. Furthermore, it does not believe children are simply empty vessels ready to be filled with knowledge, but rather it assumes that each child is a purposeful agent who interacts with the outside world. This child-centered philosophy has been advocated and practiced as long as the curriculum-centered paradigm. The great American educator and philosopher John Dewey summarizes the differences between the two paradigms almost 80 years ago in his Education and Experience: To imposition from above is opposed expression and cultivation of individuality; to external discipline is opposed free activity; to learning from texts and teachers, learning through experience; to acquisition of isolated skills and techniques by drill, is opposed acquisition of them as means of attaining ends which make direct vital appeal; to preparation for a more or less remote future is opposed making the most of the opportunities of present life; to static aims and materials is opposed acquaintance with a changing world (Dewey, 1938, 1998, p. 5–6).

This child-centered approach has been put into practice in various forms for over a century. For example, John Dewey founded the University of Chicago Lab Schools in 1896; Maria Montessori opened the first Casa Dei Bambini or Children’s House in 1907. With the first Waldorf School founded in 1919, last century saw the addition and spread of Waldorf education. Shortly after the World War II, parents around Reggio Emilia in Italy began to pilot yet another child-centered education approach that has spread across the world: the Reggio Emilia approach believes that children must have control over the direction of their learning and children must be provided endless ways and opportunities to express themselves. In 1921, Alexander Sutherland Neil founded the Summerhill School in Germany and later settled in England. The Summerhill School operates with the philosophy that school should be made to fit the child, instead of making the child fit the school because children learn best when freed from coercion. In 1968 the Sudbury Valley School was established in Massachusetts, USA. Following a similar philosophy as the Summerhill School, the Sudbury School offers no prescribed curriculum and allows students to decide what to do with their time in a democratic environment.

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13.13 Possible Elements of a New Paradigm of Education We have the raw materials: the children with the potential to become diverse, creative, entrepreneurial talents that are needed in the new era. The children are capable of learning and self-organizing. We also have the tools: advanced technology and globalization that make learning anywhere, anytime, from and with anyone around the globe. We also have the theory and decades of experiences of supporting an alternative education paradigm: child-centered education that has been experimented with in various settings in the world. We can begin to conceptualize a new paradigm of education for the future. Drawing on existing research and practices, we believe that the new paradigm should have three core elements.

13.14 Personalizable Education should be personalizable instead of one-size-fits all (Goyal, 2012; Zhao, 2018a). Personalizable education recognizes and cultivates children’s strengths instead of fixing their deficits, nurtures individual passions and interests rather than imposing on them a predetermined set of knowledge and skills, and helps children to become active owners of their personal education enterprises instead of turning them into compliant workers on the traditional mechanical education assembly line. High quality personalizable education should include a set of defining features: agency, shared ownership, and flexibility. Agency. A defining feature of personalizable education is student agency. In order for them to explore, identify, and enhance their strengths and follow their passions, students must become the owner of their learning. They must have agency in designing their own learning, and take control of their own learning. The degree of student agency varies. An easy way to think about the degree of agency students enjoy in a school is the percentage of their total school and school-related time being decided by students. That is, the proportion of time devoted to activities decided by students in consultation with adults. Student agency can vary in the different aspects of their education as well. For example, allowing students to decide what after school club they want to join is not as consequential as enabling them to decide what classes they want to take in terms of supporting students pursuing their strengths and passions. Furthermore, student agency can be granted on different levels. At the highest level, students can make decisions about their learning without constraints of grade levels or age, compulsory courses, or compulsory activities. Students can decide what they want to study, when they want to study it, and how they demonstrate their learning outcomes. Co-Ownership. Another defining feature of personalizable education is coownership. Adults and students in a school are co-owners of the school and what happens in the school. Shared ownership is a way for students to have agency over their educational experiences by being able to contribute to and take responsibility for


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the culture, infrastructure, and resources in a school. Moreover, in a shared ownership school, students are not only concerned about their own interests but also the interests of others and the community as a whole. Shared ownership is a form of broadbased ownership that has been proposed as an effective way for healthy and equitable community, business development, and job creation (Blasi, Freeman, & Kruse, 2014; Marjorie Kelly, 2016). In recent years, there is growing recognition of the benefits of employee-owned business and community-owned institutions such as community owned banks and grocery stores (Alperovitz, 2005; Blasi et al., 2014; Marjorie Kelly, 2016). Research suggests that broad-based ownership leads to healthier and more balanced growth and development as well as more equity. Flexibility. Flexibility is another defining feature. In order to maximize room for personalization, a school needs to have maximum flexibility in response to new opportunities, emerging needs, and unexpected problems. Flexibility applies to all aspects of the school: flexible leadership, flexible time table, flexible curriculum, flexible facilities, flexible students, and flexible staffing.

13.15 Value Creation and Product-Oriented Learning The new paradigm has another core element: value creation. Personalizable education is not only about supporting students pursuit of their passion and strength through agency, co-ownership, and flexibility, but also about guiding students to turn their passion and strength into value for others. By creating something valuable, students find purpose in their learning and put in efforts to enhance their strengths. They don’t just learn from others, they learn for others as well. This is to enhance children’s creativity and develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Product-oriented Learning (POL) (Zhao, 2012, 2016c) is an effective pedagogical approach to support value creation. POL, or entrepreneurial PBL, has three basic elements: authentic products, sustained and disciplined process, and roles that are strength-based. Learning does not begin with a textbook or predetermined sequence of knowledge and skills. Instead it starts with identifying problems worth solving. The outcome is not a test score, completed worksheets, or an essay to be read and graded only by the teacher. Instead it is a meaningful product, service, or program that solves a problem. Authentic works need to be of high quality and high quality comes from sustained and disciplined efforts. Thus, POL requires students to go through multiple rounds of reviewing and revision. In POL, students seek feedback from their peers, teachers, potential users of their works, and professionals outside the school. Based on the feedback, they develop more knowledge and skills needed to improve their works. Then they revise and improve. Strength-based is about guiding students to discover and develop their strengths and passions. Moreover, it s helps students learn to discover and avoid their weaknesses. By helping students find and avoid their weaknesses, POL teaches students to discover other people’s strengths and collaborate with them. Unlike traditional PBL that asks students to do similar things, POL suggests that members of a team

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perform distinctively different tasks and be responsible for different aspects of the project in accordance with each member’s strengths.

13.16 Globalized Campus The third core element of the new paradigm of education is the globalized campus (Zhao, 2012, 2016d). In other words, the setting of education is not limited to the classroom or physical campus. New educational institutions should consider the local neighborhood, the community, and the city they are located in as learning settings. Moreover, they should consider the entire world as the campus. Even outer space can be a place for learning. On the globalized campus, children engage in learning from others from anywhere. Other people in remote lands are their instructors, tutors, and mentors. They also engage in learning with others. People in other lands can be partners in learning the same way as their classmates. People far apart physically from each other can work on collaborative projects, co-create products, and together solve global problems. Furthermore, children are also engaged learning for others globally. Others are their clients, customers, students, and recipients of their services. The new paradigm is not entirely new. The three core elements have been implemented in many schools and taken various forms under the traditional paradigm of education (see for example (Zhao, 2012, 2016c, d, 2018a; Zhao & Tavangar, 2016). While the experiments have seen positive results, the changes are not fundamental and significant enough for the future. To meet the challenges facing humanities in the 4th Industrial Revolution, we need to treat the three elements as inseparable from each other. We need to replace the traditional paradigm with this new one entirely.

13.17 An Uncertain Future: Conclusions This chapter presents the case for a paradigm shift in education. It presents evidence to show why it is futile and detrimental for China, or any education system for this matter, to continue to borrow lessons from the West and for the West to borrow lessons from the East. It does not mean there are not lessons to be learned, but rather many of the lessons they wish to learn from each other are cultural and cannot be borrowed. More important, even if the lessons were learned, it only amounts to improvement of an obsolete paradigm of education that is insufficient to meet the challenges brought about technological revolutions. At this time of massive transformation, education needs to focus on inventing the future rather than improving the past. Human civilizations prosper because they can anticipate future challenges and take actions in advance. History shows if a civilization fails to anticipate future changes and challenges and take actions in advance, it is doomed to collapse (Diamond, 2005; Toynbee, 1948).


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Yong Zhao is a Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas. He is also a professor of educational leadership at Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. He previously served as the Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon, where he was also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has published over 100 articles and 30 books.

Conclusion: Insights and Reflections Michelle Jones and Alma Harris

The global knowledge economy is now ‘a game changer’ with policy makers, in different countries, seeking various ways to significantly improve their education systems (Stewart, 2012; Harris & Jones, 2015). The chapters in this book outline how policies aimed at improvement, at the school and system level, have been decided, developed, and enacted. The accounts range from attempts to transform the performance of schools, districts, and entire nations often by largely, top-down, or mandated reforms. The chapters all highlight the importance of leadership at all levels in the system and the need to build the capacity to implement and to deliver reform at scale. Many of the chapters focus on centralised reform processes. For example, Chap. 5 considers the use of competition as the driver for school improvement in England. The chapter highlights some of the limitations and negative unintended consequences of such an approach on schools and young people. Chapter 4 describes how centralised changes to the Early Childhood Care and Education Sector in Singapore are outlined as a major driver for improved outcomes and greater equity. Chapter 6 considers how a new teacher professional development system in Chile is being implemented and the net result on teachers and schools. Chapter 9 focuses on the introduction of new accountability measures in Norway and contrasts these to other countries, in particular, Singapore. Chapter 11 outlines the centralized reform processes in Russia, over a decade, and considers the progress and performance of the system that has resulted. In contrast, less autocratic or centralised models of education reform are also in evidence in the chapters. For example, Chap. 3 outlines how motivating schools to support each other, particularly low performing schools, is a strategy that is having a positive impact in Shanghai. Chapter 8 explores the power of teacher collaborative learning in New South Wales, Australia. It argues that teacher leadership emerges through evidence informed collaborative action that is focused on improving the achievement of all students. It reflects on the potential for teacher collaboration to be catalyst for lasting improvement and change.

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Conclusion: Insights and Reflections Michelle Jones and Alma Harris

The focus of the reform process also varies considerably from country to country. In Chap. 2 Graham Donaldson outlines the major reform process underway in Wales driven by an overhaul of the curriculum. Chapter 7 then offers a view on the antecedents of this reform by taking a Ministerial perspective on change at scale and looking at political constraints. Chapter 10 outlines and offers a more critical stance on the entire reform process in Wales. These chapters reinforce the importance of leadership at all levels or distributed leadership throughout the system. In Chap. 11, the idea of placed based reforms is explored through three examples (Strive Partnership (Cincinnati, Ohio), the Harlem Children’s Zone (New York, New York) and Children’s Communities (England). This chapter concludes that the problems of poverty and disadvantage, and the problems associated with poverty and disadvantage, can be addressed by establishing collaborative, holistic and ambitious reform initiatives within the places where children and young people grow up. This implies more localised and context specific changes in contrast to the centralised approaches at scale. Collaborative working and local netwois a central feature of Chap. 12 that looks at reform processes in Spain. One of the strongest lessons from all the chapters in this book is that the quality of policy implementation, rather than policy selection, is the key to promoting and sustaining educational improvement. As Avis Glase in Chap. 1 explains: Implementation matters. In organizations where change initiatives fail, it is often because of inconsistent or superficial implementation. It is important that we monitor implementation and student progress and be prepared to make mid-course corrections to improvement plans as needed. Communicating regularly is another key ingredient. It is important that we keep everyone informed of goals, progress and next steps. All the chapters in the book reinforce that policy formation is relatively straightforward but policy implementation is complex, frustrating and complex work. The key message for those engaged in any reform process, whatever the scale is that implementation is the work, and this needs careful resourcing, planning and nurturing. It also needs careful and considered leadership, at the point of need too make the reforms move from policy to practice. Another strong message from the chapters is that there is no ‘right’ policy. It depends. Yet, policy makers around the world still seem preoccupied with identifying the ‘right’ policies, often borrowing them from countries, very different from their own. The assumption is that copying others, particularly the high performing countries will bring about profound change and improvement. Far less consideration is given to considering the conditions and contextual factors that are most likely to make any chosen policy effective in practice. As Yong Zhao outlines in Chap. 13: It is futile and detrimental for China, or any education system for this matter, to continue to borrow lessons from the West and for the West to borrow lessons from the East. It does not mean there are not lessons to be learned, but rather many of the lessons they wish to learn from each other are cultural and cannot be borrowed. More important, even if the lessons were learned, it only amounts to improvement of

Conclusion: Insights and Reflections Michelle Jones and Alma Harris


an obsolete paradigm of education that is insufficient to meet the challenges brought about technological revolutions. Despite such warnings, the global policy discourse remains preoccupied with learning from the best and transporting their strategies and policies (Barber & Mourshed, 2007; Mourshed et al., 2010; Jensen et al., 2015). In the rush to emulate the PISA performance of the ‘best education systems’ the important contextual and cultural differences that exist within and between education systems, are often ignored or conveniently side-lined (Harris & Jones, 2017). Evidence shows how powerful contextual and cultural influences affect policy implementation in significant ways (Reynolds et al., 2015; Harris & Jones, 2015; Zhao, 2014; Teddlie et al., 2000). It also reinforces how policy effectiveness is not independent of context and culture but profoundly shaped and moulded by it (Sellar & Lingard, 2018). The cases in this book, collectively, highlight the following 10 lessons about change at scale: 1. 2.

Centralised solutions can have unintended and often negative consequences. Localised solutions may be slow to take effect and their impact is often unevenly distributed across the system. 3. Any reform process is messy, complex and frustrating -there are no certainties. 4. Political influence is often underestimated as is political interference in reform processes. 5. Context matters and cultures can resist and undermine even the most wellintentioned reforms. 6. Implementation processes are the key to success or failure. 7. Teacher collaboration is a positive driver but only if this collective work is co-ordinated and consistent across the system. 8. The same ‘solution’ will look different in another context and while the solution can be copied, its implementation at source cannot. 9. Policy borrowing is costly, time consuming and often futile as is depending on expertise from outside to deliver reforms inside. 10. Leadership at all levels is vital, building collective capacity is critical to the successful implementation of any reform process, whatever the scale. To conclude, this book reinforces that the process of reform at any level will be accompanied by a set of cultural and contextual factors that will render that process unique. It is argued, therefore, that the paradigm of ‘policy borrowing’ needs to be replaced with that of ‘policy learning’ where systems iteratively learn about policy implementation processes rather than routinely look elsewhere for the next idea, initiative of solution if the latest policy fails to deliver or the political gaze moves elsewhere. While there are lessons that can be learned by looking across systems, the most profound learning about transformation, as all these chapters testify, comes from within. Hence, it is probably time to stop seeking the ‘Holy Grail’ of system improvement and transformation from elsewhere and invest in far learning more about our own systems, so that the processes of change and reform have a far greater chance of succeeding.


Conclusion: Insights and Reflections Michelle Jones and Alma Harris

References Barber, M., & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the World’s Best-Performing Schools Come Out on Top London, McKinsey & Company. Harris, A., & Jones, M. (2015). Transforming education systems: comparative and critical perspectives on school leadership. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35(I) (ISI Impact 0.328) https:// doi.org/10.1080/02188791.2015.1056590. Jensen, B., Hunter, A., Lambert, T., & Clark, A. (2015). Aspiring Principal Preparation, prepared for the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. Melbourne: AITSL. Lingard, B. (2010). Policy borrowing, policy learning: Testing times in Australian schooling. Critical Studies in Education, 51(2), 129–147. Mourshed, M., Chijioke, C., & Barber, M. (2010). How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better McKinsey and Company. OECD. (2012). Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Results 2012; Country Report, http://www.oecd.org/unitedstates/PISA-2012-results-US.pdf. Reynolds, D. (2010). Failure Free Education. The past, present and future of school effectiveness and school improvement. London Routledge. Teddlie, C., Stringfield, S., & Reynolds, D. (2000). Context issues within school effectiveness research. In C. Teddlie & D. Reynolds (Eds.), International handbook of school effectiveness research. London: Falmer Press. Tucker, M. (2011). Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems. Harvard Education Press.