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The current COVID19 pandemic has forced major adjustments, often at short notice, on schools and schooling. Educators have been working in a constantly changing environment to continue to deliver for students, families and communities all the while maintaining the necessary supports for themselves and colleagues. In Australia this has led to debates concerning when and who can close schools, the authority of schools to enact context-sensitive activities, and amplified existing inequities. Informed by a larger Australian Research Council grant focused on school autonomy and social justice, we argue that the pandemic and responses to it have highlighted the idiosyncratic nature of Australian federalism, drawn greater attention to the role of school autonomy, and amplified inequities in the access to quality education irrespective of location.
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Volume 48 Number 3 2020
International Studies in
Educational Administration
Journal of the Commonwealth
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International Studies in Educational Administration
Volume 48, No. 3, 2020
Editorial Note
COVID-19 and Inequities in Australian Education Insights on Federalism, Autonomy, and Access
Co-designing Educational Policy: Professional Voice and Policy Making Post-COVID
What Next? COVID-19 and Australian Catholic Schools Through a Leadership Lens
Crisis Leadership: A Critical Examination of Educational Leadership in Higher Education in the Midst
of the COVID-19 Pandemic
School Leaders’ Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Two-Pronged Approach
Leading in the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector in England During a Pandemic: Reality,
Relationships and Ruminations
COVID-19: What Have We Learned From Italy’s Education System Lockdown
Out of Classroom Learning: A Brief Look at Kenya’s COVID-19 Education Response Plan
Managing the Costs of Online Teaching in a Free Secondary Education Programme During the
COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria
Educational Leadership Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis in Nigeria
Hold on Tight Everyone: We’re Going Down a Rabbit Hole. Educational Leadership in Turkey During
the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 and Unconventional Leadership Strategies to Support Student Learning in South Asia:
Commentaries from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan
Learning to Walk All Over Again: Insights From Some International School Educators and School
Leaders in South, Southeast and East Asia During the COVID Crisis
Education in the Age of COVID-19: Educational Responses From Four Southeast Asian Countries
Special Education Students in Public High Schools During COVID-19 in the USA
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COVID-19 and Inequities in Australian
Education Insights on Federalism,
Autonomy, and Access
Scott Eacott, Katrina MacDonald, Amanda Keddie, Jill
Blackmore, Jane Wilkinson, Richard Niesche, Brad Gobby and
Irene Fernandez
Abstract: The current COVID19 pandemic has forced major adjustments, often at short notice, on
schools and schooling. Educators have been working in a constantly changing environment to continue
to deliver for students, families and communities all the while maintaining the necessary supports for
themselves and colleagues. In Australia this has led to debates concerning when and who can close
schools, the authority of schools to enact context-sensitive activities, and amplified existing inequities.
Informed by a larger Australian Research Council grant focused on school autonomy and social justice,
we argue that the pandemic and responses to it have highlighted the idiosyncratic nature of Australian
federalism, drawn greater attention to the role of school autonomy, and amplified inequities in the access
to quality education irrespective of location.
Keywords: Autonomy, federalism, access, equity, Australia, COVID-19
The large-scale closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic has raised many issues and
concerns with the equity of school systems globally. It has challenged what we think of
schooling, how it is currently and what it can be. At the same time, it has elevated questions
such as who has authority over schools, where funding comes from, on what evidence
decisions are based, and for whom schools serve. These questions have illuminated many of
the nuances of inequities in our current school education systems.
With a specific focus on Australia, and informed by ongoing work as part of a large-scale
Australian Research Council funded project investigating school autonomy and social justice
(see:, our attention in this paper is
centred on three issues: i) the idiosyncratic nature of Australian federalism and its impact on
schooling; ii) the autonomy of schools and/or school systems; and iii) the access to high
ISEA Volume 48, Number 3, 2020 |
quality schooling regardless of location. While schools remain the constitutional
responsibility of states/territories in Australia, the Federal Government has the fiscal capacity
to influence policy. The oversight of schools is complicated by funding mechanisms that see
the bulk of funds for public schools filtered through state/territory governments and
Departments of Education while Independent and Catholic schools/systems (which
compromise 11.45 and 18.48 percent respectively of Australia’s 9503 schools) receive public
funds (different to many other countries) directly from the Federal Government. The impact
of school closures and continued accessibility to teaching and learning is not equally
distributed across Australia or different systems (public, Catholic, independent). Put simply,
the pandemic has amplified many of the inequities of Australian education.
Our argument is that the public health crisis that is COVID-19 has highlighted the multiple
pathways and influence of schools and school systems courtesy of federalism and allowed
different systems (e.g. public, Catholic and independent) to engage with government and the
public differently entrenching existing inequities. The autonomy to engage, or not, with
government directives has varied greatly by sector and we focus in particular on equity issues
of decisions regarding when to close and open schools. Caught up in all of this is the access
to education for all students. This includes not only the availability of the technologies
necessary for ongoing engagement with schooling, but also what types of engagement are
considered acceptable for different groups of students and communities. In sum, our
argument is that COVID-19 has brought to the fore the inequities that have existed in
Australian school systems for some time. Prompted by the pandemic, this represents a
significant opportunity to not only raise these issues but to advocate for those students and
communities most disadvantaged.
The Idiosyncratic Nature of Australian Federalism
Australia is a federation of six states and two territories and school education is arguably the
‘oldest and deepest federalist artefact’ (Keating & Klatt 2013: 414). Constitutionally, education
is the responsibility of the states/territories however the primary source of funding is through
the Federal Government as the collector of income taxes. In short, the Federal Government
provides funds for schools through three main approaches: i) for public schools, constituting
close to two-thirds of all enrolments, funds are granted to state/territory governments who
then allocate through their budgets; ii) for the Catholic sector, the Federal Government
directly funds the system (comprising 19.5% of students) which then allocates to individual
schools; and iii) individual ‘independent’, largely faith-based, schools receive federal funds
directly. The intricacies of this complexity remain somewhat hidden in public discourses but
play out in a very specific way during a major (inter)national crisis as it enables different
levers to be pulled. A prime example has been school closures.
School closures were, and remain, a common intervention since the initial spread of COVID-
19. While the exact scale is still unfolding, UNESCO reports that over 140 countries and two-
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thirds of all students globally have been impacted (see:
educationresponse) and the OECD (2020) notes that some 1.6 billion children have been
directly affected. In Australia, the Catholic and independent schools sectors were able to close
in response to the initial outbreaks (with the most common action starting school holidays a
week early) whereas public schools were forced to remain open. The intimate relations
between schooling and the economy were emphasised with calls for schools to remain open
to allow parents to continue working. The federal intervention here was to threaten
withdrawal of funding for Catholic systemic and independent schools if they did not re-open.
This re-opening was for the most part through the provision of remote learning, with students
learning from home with content delivered via online platforms (e.g. Microsoft Teams) and/or
printed packages and phone calls.
Throughout the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the handling and messaging
resulted in public perception of state/territory governments growing in esteem compared
with the Federal Government (Wilson, Pallant, Bednall & Gray 2020). However, school
closures demonstrate how the financial power and policy reach of the Federal Government
has expanded in apparently irreversible fashion despite its constitutional responsibility
(Feena 2018). The Prime Minister and particularly the Federal Education Minister were
publicly critical of state governments closing public schools. The latter even had to publicly
apologise for critical remarks made about one state government’s decision to close public
schools as he had over-stepped on constitutional responsibility (No author, Federal education
minister Dan Tehan apologises for 'overstepping the mark' in schools closure criticism of
Victoria, The Guardian, May 5, 2020). Due to the idiosyncratic funding nature of Australian
school education, the Federal Government encouraged independent and religious schools to
re-open earlier than they had planned in exchange for an advance on $3 billion of already
committed funding. National statements such as the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration
(Australian Government [Department of Education] 2019) and reform agendas such as the
Gonski Report (Gonski et al. 2018) are potentially compromised by the urgency of decision
making required by the pandemic and the fiscal powers of the Federal Government to pull
policy levers on different sectors to different degrees. What the COVID-19 pandemic has
brought to the fore is the complex tensions arising from the demarcation of responsibilities
for education across three systems and the six states/two territories, complicated by different
political persuasions.
The Autonomy of Schools and/or School Systems
The capability of independent schools and the Catholic system to close schools at a time when
the Federal Government was stating that schools are safe introduces questions about the
autonomy to enact such a decision. Australia has been a leading advocate of self-managing
schools through the work of Caldwell and colleagues (e.g. Caldwell & Spinks 1992), but also
home to some of its most vocal critics (e.g. Smyth 2008). This long and contested history
(MacDonald et al. 2020) has raised concerns for social justice (e.g. Keddie, MacDonald,
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Blackmore, Wilkinson et al. 2020) given the increasingly marketised context within which
school ‘autonomy’ operates (e.g. Keddie, Macdonald, Blackmore, Eacott et al. 2020). Despite
this, autonomy-based reforms have remained persuasive in policy and education discourse
in their association with improving school outcomes.
Across all major international (e.g. PISA, TIMSS) and national (e.g. NAPLAN) testing
regimes, Australia’s performance is at best stagnant and in all likelihood, declining (e.g.
Thomson, De Bortoli, Underwood & Schmid 2019). Increases in school level autonomy over
the past few decades have coincided with increasing administrative workload for school
leaders (Heffernan & Pierpoint 2020), less time for teaching and learning related matters
(Thomson & Hillman 2019), and heightened stress and well-being concerns (Riley, See, Marsh
& Dicke 2020). The pandemic has forced further administrative burdens and responsibility
on school level educators as they reacted to fast changing situations to best protect staff,
students and the community from the virus. The decisions (e.g. to close or remain open even
shifting to remote learning) have highlighted what schools have autonomy over (or not) and
provide evidence for whom schools serve. During the pandemic’s first wave in Australia,
only public schools have been seen as serving the public interest (Wilson et al. 2020).
Australia has a very divisive school sector with battle lines often based on sectors public,
independent, Catholic (Eacott 2019). Major reviews such as Gonski (Gonski et al. 2018) have
sought to introduce sector blind funding arrangements that are based on measures of
(dis)advantage. These have however proven politically difficult to implement and currently
growth in funding for the independent and Catholic sectors is out-pacing those to public
schools (Chrysanthos & Carey, Growth in money for private school students outstrips public
schools, Sydney Morning Herald, June 30, 2020). This funding distribution is part of a much
larger social policy move playing out in schools through what Cranston, Kimber, Mulford,
Reid and Keating (2010) describe as a shift from the public to private purposes of schooling
(see also Smyth 2008). What the pandemic has done is to amplify these issues. Therefore,
resulting from the class-based stratification of school systems (where access to different
sectors is limited by the fiscal capacity of families to pay) means that education cannot escape
issues of equity.
The Equitable Distribution of Quality Education
Policy decisions during the pandemic have required a careful balancing of choices and
implications across health, economic, social and education measures. No decision has been
made without consequences for a significant portion of the population (e.g. the double
burden of woman having to assume learning support roles for children at home while
sustaining usual roles, therefore exacerbating existing gendered inequalities). What the
pandemic has done is expose the many inequities in our education systems. These inequities
have been widely recognised (e.g. Gonski et al. 2018; Halsey 2018; OECD 2016), with UNICEF
(2018) noting Australia is one of the most unequal countries at the primary and secondary
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levels reflected in a long performance tail and a strong correlation between social
(dis)advantage and outcomes. School closures have brought these inequities to the fore. Some
groups have sought to quantify the impact of school closures on students’ learning, with the
greatest impact on the most disadvantaged (e.g. Joseph & Fahey 2020), and the Prime Minister
publicly argued that schools need to open to prevent children from falling behind while also
freeing parents up to restart workforce participation. Two matters brought to the fore through
COVID-19, and particularly school closures, are the inequitable distribution of resources to
support learning and the acceptance of variable quality experiences for different groups.
In shifting from face-to-face instruction to remote learning, significant pressures were moved
to families to provide the necessary resources for learning. Apart from the time and capacity
to assist children with their learning, the pandemic amplified the digital divide in Australia.
Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data, 86 percent of Australian households have access
to the internet. The distribution is however not even across all social groups, with 33 percent
among the lowest income households not having access to the internet at home. While some
schools/systems sought to loan laptop computers or iPads to families, the additional costs
associated with devices, electricity, internet access and data charges combined with
availability to assist students at home, means that the pandemic has exposed many of the
enduring inequities in our school systems.
Not surprisingly, many of the calls to re-open schools (mindful that public schools never shut)
centred on equity. The key claim was that by not physically attending school, students were
having their education compromised. For a number of the reasons previously cited, this
compromise was felt greatest by already disadvantaged groups. At the same time, these calls
highlighted existing complicity with inequities. The Halsey Report (Halsey 2018), among
many others, draws attention to the inequities of Australian schooling based on location
notably regional, rural and remote education. For those in many rural and remote
communities, distance and online learning is the only way to access education and this has
been achieved for some 100 years (e.g. Downes & Roberts 2015). If the claim is made that it is
a deficit way of educating, what does this show about our acceptance of it for rural and remote
students (Downes & Roberts 2020)? Therefore, while the pandemic has created challenges for
educators, it has illuminated a number of the significant issues of education that have
remained somewhat obscured for many.
Since the initial outbreak and subsequent international spread of COVID-19, many
researchers, edu-preneurs and consultants have sought to capitalise on the opportunity by
appropriating their work and linking it to the pandemic. Various models, adjectival
approaches, or products have been advocated as the solution to the problems created by the
pandemic and/or the best path forward. In this paper we have adopted a different approach.
Finding stimulus in Anderson’s (2009) call for problem posers not problem solvers, rather
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than try and provide simple solutions (often mirroring those advocated prior to the
pandemic), we have explicitly articulated some of the issues that the pandemic has amplified
at least in Australia, but arguably elsewhere (see Figure 1). In particular, we have raised
issues of the politics of schooling (including relations to levels of government), the autonomy
of schools and systems to respond, and the inequities of access and resources. If any ‘new’
form of schooling is possible post-pandemic, then confronting the challenges of education is
arguably the only path. The insights provided in this paper, and the questions we raise, are
one step in engaging in a conversation about the problems and possibilities of education. This
is however not a one off, or individual endeavour. To that end, this is an ongoing project
which we hope you will join.
Figure 1: Reflective Questions Raised by COVID-19 Pandemic for School/System Leaders
Anderson, G. L. (2009). Advocacy Leadership: Toward a post-reform agenda in education. New York, NY:
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Caldwell, B. J., & Spinks, J. (1992). Leading the Self Managing School. London, UK: Falmer Press.
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Cranston, N. C., Kimber, M., Mulford, B., Reid, A., & Keating, J. (2010). Politics and school education in
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Downes, N., & Roberts, P. (2015). Valuing rural meanings: The work of parent supervisors challenging
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Keddie, A., MacDonald, K., Blackmore, J., Wilkinson, J., Gobby, B., Niesche, R., Eacott, S., & Mahoney,
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Thomson, S., De Bortoli, L., Underwood, C., & Schmid, M. (2019). PISA 2018: Reporting Australia's results.
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Author Details
Scott Eacott
School of Education
UNSW Sydney
Katrina MacDonald
School of Education
Deakin University
Amanda Keddie
Research for Educational Impact (REDI)
Deakin University’s Strategic Research Centre in Education
Jill Blackmore
Research for Educational Impact (REDI)
Deakin University’s Strategic Research Centre in Education
Jane Wilkinson
Faculty of Education
Monash University
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ISEAVolume 48, Number 3, 2020
Richard Niesche
School of Education
UNSW Sydney
Brad Gobby
School of Education
Curtin University
Irene Fernandez
Faculty of Education
Monash University
... Indeed, as pointed out by Kim and Weiner (2022) and others (e.g. Eacott et al. 2020), as leaders working within large bureaucratic systems, principals' autonomy is largely bounded by external oversight agencies (e.g. district/school) and thus has been characterised as 'controlled' (Weiner and Woulfin 2017) or 'defined' (Waters and Marzano 2006). ...
Using data from a national study on principals’ responses to the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we describe crisis leadership as boundary spanning – managing up, down, and outwards to lead the response. School leaders had to manage outside expectations to ensure their schools responded to the crisis in ways that allowed for organisational and individual health and well-being. We provide descriptive examples of how principals bridged and buffered to ensure the continuity of instruction and the socio-emotional well-being of teachers, students, and families. We argue that by framing crisis leadership as boundary spanning, we can prepare for future crises by emphasising structures and systems that support leaders in sharing information, communicating, collaborating, advocating, and relationship-building. District leaders should involve principals in decision-making, provide supports that foster boundary-spanning activities, and consider the needs of principals when determining directives.
... En resumen, se trata, principalmente, de ejercicios de sistematización de experiencias concretas en Argentina, Chile y España (Almandoz et al., 2021;Cárdenas, Guerrero, & Johnson, 2021;Llorens-Largo et al., 2021;García-de-Paz y Santana, 2021;Soto et al, 2021). Mientras que los esfuerzos más similares al del presente artículo abordan, para el caso de México, y para el contexto australiano, el israelí y el español, el estudio de la autonomía escolar, ninguno de estos realiza un análisis desde el ciclo de políticas; además de que no incluyen las vivencias de las comunidades escolares; más bien, revisan documentos normativos -principalmente legales-y/o levantan cuestionarios, de donde emanan conclusiones sobre el federalismo y sobre el rol y el valor de la autonomía escolar -a nivel del aula o del centro-durante y después de la pandemia (Eacott et al., 2020;Navarrete, Manzanilla, & Ocaña, 2020;Ramot & Donitsa-Schmidt, 2021;Rodríguez & Gómez, 2021). ...
Full-text available
Resumen. Este artículo profundiza en los procesos de autonomía escolar surgidos al inicio de la pandemia por COVID-19, a partir del análisis del ciclo de políticas de la intervención del Gobierno federal para dar conti-nuidad educativa a distancia. Por medio de una revisión documental de literatura académica y documentos oficiales, así como de entrevistas y grupos focales con figuras de educación básica y media superior, se concluye que, históricamente, la autonomía escolar ha sido un proyecto difuso de política en México y que no fue un eje presente en la respuesta del Gobierno a la emergencia; sin embargo, algunas comunidades escolares han exigido el reconocimiento a su autonomía para decidir y actuar en colectivo. Palabras clave: COVID-19, autonomía escolar, colegiado, políticas educativas. School autonomy in Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic: Diffuse policies from the government, a claim from school communities Abstract. This article delves into the processes of school autonomy that emerged at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, from the lenses given by the analysis of the policy cycle of the federal government intervention to secure the continuity in distance education. Through a documentary review of academic literature and official documents, as well as interviews and focus groups with figures of basic and upper secondary education, it is concluded Apuntes 92, 85-123
... During the COVID-19 pandemic, scholars have quickly published conceptual and informative articles to guide educational leaders, policymakers, and other researchers on navigating the threats specific to this context. In this case, scholars have discussed tensions between school autonomy and levels of government (Eacott et al., 2020), the roles of leaders and teachers (Kidson et al., 2020;Pollock, 2020), emergency response plans (Moyi, 2020), costs for online learning (Iyiomo, 2020), technology infrastructure (Ahmed et al., 2020), inequities for special education students (Nelson and Murakami, 2020), and the value of communal caring (Stasel, 2020). These topics are examples of issues or tasks germane to crisis leadership that has manifested during COVID-19. ...
Full-text available
School leadership during the pandemic serves as the contextual backdrop for this conceptual article. Specifically, we believe the preparation of today’s school leaders must be re-examined to consider the inclusion of frameworks that consider not only how principals might navigate extreme crises but also how they look after themselves and their wellbeing in ways that may curb the chronic stress that often leads to professional burnout. In this article, we tie together three bodies of literature – crisis management, leadership in turbulence, and self-care – and introduce a conceptual framework that may help us reconsider the preparation of today’s school leader. These bodies of literature, while not yet broadly studied in education, are key to our understanding of how school leaders can successfully practice their new day-to-day practices after experiencing turmoil under the COVID-19 pandemic.
Full-text available
The Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management (CCEAM) was given a grant by the Commonwealth Secretariat to provide evidence and opinions from across the Commonwealth to inform the 21st Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers (21CCEM), and the conference theme of ‘rethinking education for innovation, growth and sustainability’. The project was related to the impact of the pandemic on educational leadership across the Commonwealth and how this might influence future education., with the terms of the grant including the following: a) to conduct six (6) virtual consultative meetings to examine in greater depth educational leadership in the Commonwealth in relation to the 21CCEM main theme; exchange lessons learned among countries; promote stakeholder engagement including academia and governments early in the 21CCEM process b) prepare a report that reflects the results and evidence based recommendations of the consultations to be presented at 21CCEM. The foci of the project were: - to examine in greater depth educational leadership in the Commonwealth in relation to the 21CCEM main theme i.e., innovation, growth and sustainability - How will education and educational leadership be different after the pandemic? These foci were considered at several seminars across the world in 2021/22 and related to research evidence collected since the pandemic began in early 2020. The report begins with five key policy recommendations, followed by the evidence base for these recommendations and a vision for future schooling and educational leadership that arises from these discussions. Key Recommendations: 1. Quality and equity Call for a renewed and sustained focus on access to quality education across and within countries for all learners as an imperative to address disparities, including those brought to the fore by the health pandemic. 2. Personalisation Support the development of personalised learning approaches, with a focus on the opportunities that learning technologies provide for all students and especially for students with special or additional needs. 3. Education, health and well-being and the importance of a physical school to communities Call for countries to prioritise improvement of the physical buildings and grounds of all of their schools and to enhance the usability of the facilities for local communities. 4. Leadership Support the value-based development and preparedness of aspiring and current educational leaders for collaborative, responsive, crisis-ready and contextually sensitive practice; and for future schools that are inclusive and integrated in the community. 5. Evolution of education Promote the need for continuous change in schools and school systems, with an emphasis on decreasing the disparity in quality schooling within and between countries through accelerated change agendas.
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This paper analyses the composition, distribution, and history of school funding in Australia through a spatial lens (Soja 2010). We explore multi-scalar school funding policy through three layers of economic maldistribution. We sketch the funding disparities between the three school sectors (public, Catholic, and independent) exposing a spatial injustice in policies of school choice; the spatial and economic maldistribution between state jurisdictions; and the economic maldistribution within state public systems, including the ability of their school communities to contribute funds. Spatial injustice is uncovered in economic maldistribution within and across these policy layers, adding nuance to existing school funding debates. The Australian case is relevant to international explorations of school funding as an example of ‘unjust practice’ in the hierarchies between schools across sectors, between jurisdictions, and within systems of public education.
The narrowing of teacher work has occurred across many fronts. This chapter examines the ways that literacy, and a focus on it and numeracy, has changed expectations of teachers. The datafication that supports this focus on literacy and numeracy has spawned an overt focus on a battery of standardised tests. This chapter presents an alternative vision to this instrumentalised approach to teaching and learning that recognises the important of teacher agency, and places that within the context of a data-rich schooling environment. By reconceptualising the nature of teaching, and the purpose of schooling, it is possible to act as both a democratic teacher, and appease the expectations of a data-centric agenda. One way of doing so is by developing greater fluency with dialogic approaches to education. As an example, one way of doing this is via the methodology of the ‘socratic circle’. This approach is outlined, with guidance on its origins, its aims and the way that educators can apply it to a range of learning settings. A further discussion explains the atmosphere intended to be achieved, the learning learning outcomes and protocols to support student development via this approach. Socratic circles hold great promise for both teachers as it allows them to practice democratic ways of being, and also for students, as a mechanism to experience and learn the possibilities of democratic collaboration within their classroom.
A persuasive solution for governments and systemic authorities seeking to improve the quality and equity of outcomes for students has been the localized management of schools. Believed to provide opportunities for context-sensitive decision-making, what remains unclear is how does shifting increasing management to the school-level generate the type of leadership necessary to improve outcomes? Drawing from a subset from an Australian study of school autonomy, we argue that reforms simply cannot improve outcomes as they generate work that takes leaders and educators away from teaching and learning activities and sustain if not advance enduring inequities in the system..
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This chapter discusses how surveys with academics paint a picture of existing academics who have had to change their practices as they are now teaching students with more consumer like demands, while also having to conduct research that is likely to be published in higher ‘quality’ journals, and more likely to lead to funding opportunities. At the same time, academics report promotion and job success taking new shapes as networks play an increasing role in these activities; much like ample research suggests is the case in the business world. Shrinking funding is also heightening the competitiveness even at the lowest levels of the academic hierarchy as participants indicate feeling that no amount of their efforts or success is enough and that they can always do more. The chapter also makes clear how habitus and capital in the field of the academy influence who is successful at securing an academic role, and what role it plays in their overall career trajectory and success.
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This chapter begins with an assessment of what the role of the university vice chancellor or president (the highest-ranking position depending on terminology and location) traditionally involved, who was selected, and what issues they had to watch out for/contend with to complete their role. The chapter uses interviews with vice chancellors from England, and university presidents from Canada, to determine what the role involves in the twenty-first century. The chapter highlights that the highest level of office which was for centuries about the senior academic of the university directing the teaching and learning to position the university amongst their peers, and attracting academics and students who would aid to these objectives. In contrast, the leaders of today speak of their role as being largely business focused, contending with media issues, predicting funding and enrolment trends, or redistributing funds to research that is likely to result in grants and contracts. These duties have not only redefined the role, but as the chapter’s analysis discusses, it separates the vice-chancellors and presidents (and other executive leaders) from teaching and research practices. They might view teaching and research as a commodity, not as methods of knowledge creation and dissemination.
Technical Report
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As an extension of the Australian Leadership Index, members of the Australian public were surveyed for eight weeks between March 17 and May 6 to measure perceptions of the degree to which different institutions showed leadership for the greater good in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This report outlines the findings. Key findings: Perceptions of overall leadership for the greater good reached positive levels for the first time ever in response to COVID-19. Perceptions peaked at the end of April, but declined slightly as restrictions began to ease. The government sector recorded sharp increases in perceptions of leadership for the greater good. This increase was particularly apparent in the federal government and in many of state governments, most notably the Western Australian government. Public health institutions were seen as showing exemplary leadership for the greater good. Private health institutions were also perceived positively, whereas health insurance companies were not perceived to lead in the public interest. Public sentiment about the education sector was mixed. Public education institutions were perceived to show a modest degree of leadership for the greater good. By contrast, private education institutions were not perceived to lead in the public interest. Australians considered themselves well-informed about the COVID-19 pandemic and relied heavily on public media and official government information to stay informed.
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In this timely and important new book, Gary Anderson provides a devastating critique of why a managerial role for educational leaders is counterproductive, especially for improving opportunities for low-income students and students of color, and instead proposes ways of re-theorizing educational leadership to emphasize its advocacy role. Advocacy Leadership lays out a post-reform agenda that moves beyond the neo-liberal, competition framework to define a new accountability, a new pedagogy, and a new leadership role definition. Drawing on personal narrative, discourse analysis, and interdisciplinary scholarship, Anderson delivers a compelling argument for the need to move away from current inauthentic and inequitable approaches to school reform in order to jump-start a conversation about an alternative vision of education today.
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This paper explores the idea that rurality is important in children's learning even though it is in conflict with dominant educational discourses. Crucial to identifying this was the use of research methods that focused on rural meanings. In this paper we report on an ethnographic study that explored the experiences of parent supervisors of primary school distance education students. The parent supervisors identified that they chose distance education because it enables them to live their rural lifestyle, which in turn reflects the worldview they aim to bring their children up in. However, the schooling they receive values a different, metropolitan-cosmopolitan worldview (Roberts, 2014). In semi-structured interviews parent supervisors described how they would initially focus on conforming to the expectations of schooling, before then realising this was problematic for their students. They would then instead focus on doing what worked for them, which were actions based on their rural ways of being. Ethnography as an approach enabled this research to focus on rural meanings, which identified that parent supervisors work hard to ensure rural perspectives are included when they teach their children because they know this is necessary to meet their children's learning needs. This leads to an important message for school authorities: rurality does matter in education, and education is not confined to the criteria set by school authorities. Importantly, the situated perspective that is implicit in the actions of parent supervisors indicates that adopting a place-conscious (Gruenewald, 2003) approach to schooling would help to sustain rural lifeworlds.
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Purpose The paper aims to argue that there has been a privileging of the private (social mobility) and economic (social efficiency) purposes of schooling at the expense of the public (democratic equality) purposes of schooling. Design/methodology/approach The paper employs a literature review, policy and document analysis. Findings Since the late 1980s, the schooling agenda in Australia has been narrowed to one that gives primacy to purposes of schooling that highlight economic orientations (social efficiency) and private purposes (social mobility). Practical implications The findings have wider relevance beyond Australia, as similar policy agendas are evident in many other countries raising the question as to how the shift in purposes of education in those countries might mirror those in Australia. Originality/value While earlier writers have examined schooling policies in Australia and noted the implications of managerialism in relation to these policies, no study has analysed these policies from the perspective of the purposes of schooling. Conceptualising schooling, and its purposes in particular, in this way refocuses attention on how societies use their educational systems to promote (or otherwise) the public good.
This paper provides an overview of the policies of school autonomy in Australian public education from the Karmel report in 1973 to the present day. The key focus is on the social justice implications of this reform. It tracks the tensions between policy moves to both grant schools greater autonomy and rein in this autonomy with the increasing instatement of external forms of regulation. Utilising Nancy Fraser’s concepts of dis-embedding and re-embedding markets, we track key policy moments in three Australian states (Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales) along with federal interventions. We draw attention to the redistributive and representative justice implications arising from these policy moments as occurring within a consistent trajectory towards a market agenda and argue that future policy needs to consider the effect of past policy.
As part of a larger comparative project, “Dynamic De/Centralization in Federations,” this article studies the dynamics of Australian federalism since 1901. A constitution drafted in the 1890s left the majority of domestic governance responsibilities to the States. Within two decades, though, a process, continuing to this day, was underway whereby the financial power and the policy reach of the Commonwealth expanded in an apparently inexorable and irreversible fashion. This article charts those developments across both a broad sweep of policy domains and in respect of changing fiscal relations for the Australian case and attempts to provide a more systematic assessment of the extent, degree, and timing of change since Federation than previously attempted. It then relates the main patterns of change, over time and across policy domains, to the apparent mechanisms and, in turn, to a range of hypothesized causes.
Australia has been one of the countries to most enthusiastically embrace the neo‐liberal conditions conducive to the dismantling of equitably provided public schooling. The article argues that part of the explanation for the absence of any effective challenge to this trajectory lies in the contradictory nature of the Australian identity. The ensemble of policies that have been officially promoted to produce this situation, include: an official process of disparaging public education, while eulogising the alleged virtues of private education; promoting school choice as the mechanism for upholding standards and accountability; encouraging structures and school cultures that bolster marketised views; deliberately cultivating inequities in resources and funding that exacerbate exit of a fearful middle class; and generally producing a compliant view of educational leadership that is deferent to management views. The effect has been a major shift of social justice off the wider Australian educational and political agenda.
Drawing on historical and policy analyses as well as interviews with government representatives and other key actors, this research paper argues that intergovernmental relations in Australian education are predominantly driven by concurrent federalism, but with the reverse effect creating a coordinate model in education. It discusses implications for school funding and the successful implementation of a recently released Australian Government review of funding for schooling, the so called the Gonski Review. The Gonski report makes a case for a radical restructuring of school education funding and accountability across the federal framework. If implemented, the changes would involve a major shift from the current coordinate model to a cooperative federalism. The paper provides an opportunity for a critical discussion of how educational policy is negotiated, contested and determined, within an array of competing, cooperating and coercive political power interests between various levels of government in a contemporary Australian context.
Incl. index, bibliographical references
Offline Distance Education (Already Happening All Around Australia) Can Be Highly Successful
  • N Downes
  • P Roberts
Downes, N., & Roberts, P. (2020). Offline Distance Education (Already Happening All Around Australia) Can Be Highly Successful, 4 May (retrieved from