SCHOOL AUTONOMY REFORM AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
IN AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC EDUCATION
An ARC funded investigation of the social justice implications of school autonomy reform
In each state, we are interviewing a broad and diverse range of stakeholders involved in and responsible for school autonomy reform. Participants are policy-makers in government departments, education leaders from principal associations and networks within the state sector, educators from teacher groups and networks, and members of parent/community groups. The purpose of these interviews is to explore a) how these leaders/stakeholders are understanding school autonomy in the current climate, b) how they see it being enacted (at the national, state and local levels) in relation to a range of schooling processes (e.g. student engagement and support, curriculum and pedagogy, teacher professional learning, leadership and management, community/school relations and c) the implications for social justice associated with these understandings and enactments.
SCHOOL CASE STUDIES
A range of case study schools that reflect a diversity of types, sizes, demographies and locations are being selected to explore the issues raised in the stakeholder interviews. A ‘cultural audit’ will be conducted to provide a contextual picture of these schools in relation to demographics information as well as key policies and practices that might be relevant for understanding issues of school autonomy. Interviews and focus group discussions will be conducted with relevant participants (e.g. school leadership team, staff responsible for equity, a sample of experienced and novice teachers, parent representatives, school council). The purpose of these interviews is to explore understandings, enactments and implications of school autonomy reform as it relates to social justice. The emphasis in the case studies will be to extend this focus to examine equity concerns about school autonomy that might relate to the particularities of context.
CONSULTATION WITH INTERNATIONAL EXPERT REFERENCE GROUP
The International Expert Reference Group consists of researchers from the UK, Norway, Sweden and the US. The IERG will be consulted at two key junctures during the research to discuss and debate cross national, national and local findings from the project.
Workshops will be conducted following the final IERG consultation in each state, hosted by the partner universities. The purpose will be to discuss the project’s findings and recommendations and finalise the social justice framework, mindful of school and state level contextual factors and the utility of international perspectives for Australia towards more equitable future school provision. A final symposium for policy makers/senior education personnel will share all of the project’s findings, the social justice framework, ‘dilemma cases’ and recommendations.