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Principal perceptions of a school-based reform initiative


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Bennett, Judith Grace 2002 , 'Principal perceptions of a school-based reform initiative', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In recent years the structure of school governance in Australia has been undergoing
dramatic change. Changes have included an increased devolution of responsibility for
the implementation of centrally-determined policies and priorities (Mulford and
Hogan, 1999). Such change is considered as having significant implications for all
schools (Sharpe, 1994).
The purpose of this study was to examine the ways in which a selected group of 16
Tasmanian school principals undertook a school reform initiative in the area of
increased decentralisation of school governance, the Assisted School Self Review
(ASSR) process, in their particular school.
The research questions selected for the study were as follows:
1. How did principals gain commitment and initiate the ASSR process in their
2. What were the management and decision-making processes adopted by the
principal for the ASSR process?
3. What did principals perceive as the outcomes of the ASSR process for their
schools? and,
4. How did principals perceive the ASSR process affecting their role as principal?
A multi-case study method was adopted and semi-structured interviews and document
analysis were used to gather data. The range of interview questions and prompts were
also listed. The interview data were analysed according to the questions presented
and categorised. Responses were triangulated by reference to the document analysis
and an elite interview.
This study found that the establishment and implementation of school-based reform is
affected by the level of commitment from staff and the principal, the principal's
leadership style and the characteristics of a school context including administrative
practices, school size and school sector. The principal is a critical player in
implementing school-based reform. This study reinforces previous research
indicating tension between central policy guidelines and school-based ownership and
accountability. Though the principals in this study perceived the ASSR process as
centrally driven, they perceived the process in a positive light, and considered that
they implemented the ASSR process as required by the ASSR guidelines.
In brief, this study has found that the following seven aspects contribute to a greater
likelihood of successful implementation of school reform efforts such as ASSR:
• Principal with a positive attitude and understanding of school-based reform;
• Proactive rather than reactive principal using ASSR as a lever for change;
• Having an experienced principal;
• Being in a primary and/or smaller school;
• Use of existing rather than adding to a school's activities or ways of operation;
• Shared or distributive leadership within the school; and
Time, to reflect on the reform process and its implications for school
Principals undertaking reform agendas have professional learning needs that relate to
change and school improvement and their roles as leaders in schools. These agendas
need to take particular account of the professional development of those new to
principalship or new in their school.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Bennett, Judith Grace
Keywords: School-based management, School principals
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2002 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis ( M.Ed.)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references

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