By M. Arnott
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Additional resources for Governance of Schooling: Comparative Studies of Devolved Management
In particular, the controlling role of local education authorities has been diminished within the new governance. An intensive use of devices such as performance indicators, targets for literacy or numeracy, and inspection reports, enhances this steering capacity, but these also contribute to the perception that the reins have tightened; such perceptions are important, becoming themselves part of the action. It is important, however, to separate rhetoric from reality. The formal state hierarchy in education has not necessarily dictated the realities of decision-making and initiativetaking.
In these two schools, the personality or inclination of the head teacher may explain these views, for the heads’ style emphasised collegiality and thus encouraged trust in themselves as educational leaders. To summarise themes that emerge from this evidence: tensions between professional and managerial conceptions of the role of head teacher appear to be more keenly felt by teachers and heads as a result of the particular characteristics of devolved management. 3 Although devolved management in principle loosens the hierarchical relationship between schools and higher levels of the state, in the minds of many it tightens it between heads and other teachers as managerial and financial routines are brought inside the school itself, to sit very uneasily alongside the professional culture and values of education.
Heads and other teachers have broadly welcomed DSM, with reservations, and have tended not to want further delegation of education authority functions. DSM’s benefits are broadly appreciated in terms of flexibility, control, and greater speed in effecting repairs and ordering supplies. While these are important, teachers do not seem to perceive that DSM has had a direct bearing on teaching and assessing pupils, or on learning. They have welcomed the freedom to arrange the school’s in-service training, but have worried about the lesser role played by the education authority’s advisory services, and about their additional workload, although the latter is not attributed specifically to DSM.