Policy for all? The impact of centrally developed, universally applied policy on decision-making in Western Australian public schools

Trimmer, Karen (2012) Policy for all? The impact of centrally developed, universally applied policy on decision-making in Western Australian public schools. In: 2012 International Conference: Innovative Research in a Changing and Challenging World (AUAMII 2012), 16-18 May 2012, Phuket, Thailand.

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Abstract

In many organizations, policies and procedures are developed to be followed and complied with by all managers and staff in each branch, geographical location and community. These centrally developed governance frameworks are deemed to apply to all decision-making regardless of contextual circumstances that apply locally. Government schools are no exception. In Western Australia (WA) principals of public schools are provided with guidance for their decision-making by centrally developed educational policy and procedures included on a regulatory framework. Policy writers within the central office have worked under the assumption that policies and procedures can be developed that will apply universally to all schools and circumstances. This paper considers the impact of this assumption on risk-taking in decision-making by principals in schools that have different characteristics within the school community. The paper reflects on a study of principals in a stratified random sample of 253 WA public schools. It was found that principals of schools where local circumstances were different, including geographical and cultural factors, were more likely to take risks in decision-making. As a consequence these principals were not compliant with the Departmental regulatory framework. Interviews with principals also indicated that policies created centrally were often not applicable to schools in remote locations or with different cultural characteristics, such as high proportions of Indigenous students or students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds with English as a second language. The dilemma for principals is to be able to translate locally identified needs into a local educational program within a school and simultaneously comply with all State and Commonwealth departmental requirements.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright 2012 by Australian Multicultural Interaction Institute.
Depositing User: Dr Karen Trimmer
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Education
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2012 07:02
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2014 03:24
Uncontrolled Keywords: governance, decision-making, principals, schools
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9304 School/Institution > 930401 Management and Leadership of Schools/Institutions
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/22301

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