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Challenge of complexity - rethinking approaches


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This presentation was given by Dahle Suggett at the CERI Conference on Innovation, Governance and Reform in Education on 3 November 2014 during session 3.b: The Challenge of Complexity: Rethinking Relationships and Approaches on Knowledge-intensive Governance, Innovation and Change.

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Challenge of complexity - rethinking approaches

  2. 2. Australian case studies – Victoria Real and current examples Each has characteristics of Local response to redrawn system responsibilities Local agencies testing their autonomy and capacity Venturing into unknown territory New forms of collaboration and on a wider front Trust and mutual accountability
  3. 3. Snapshot 1 Refocus responsibility for self-improvement in group of 10 schools with 4,500 students Problem 1 Government change from ‘directive’ in school administration to ‘facilitative’ Schools are more autonomous, trusted and empowered BUT can mean diminishing supports, loss of expertise, isolation and changed identity for schools - no longer secure in large powerful system Solutions Test the boundaries: establish a collaborative local administrative ‘system’ Build behaviours with strong local mutual accountability Buy in specialist services Change the governance to focus collectively on the 10 schools
  4. 4. Snapshot 2 Relationships and trust at the centre of building a school’s capacity to respond to new arrivals and refugees across 54 nationalities Problem 2 School overwhelmed by learning challenges faced by their students Families with different cultural expectations of schools, language barriers, minimal pre-school experience Families in need – economic and social But, who is there to help? Confusion about access to local services; locus of responsibility - role of school versus welfare agencies Solutions Recast the school as the centre for driving solutions – what can we do? Deepened relationships with families – from knowing their families to establishing relationships and being trusted; school as conduit to families and solutions And, adopted a rigorous negotiation with other agencies on their role and contribution
  5. 5. Snapshot 3 Turnaround of persistent (two decades) underperformance in a low socio-economic region of 140 schools Problem 3 Trapped in a cycle of low expectations of students and low expectations of schools Mixed teacher quality- low self-efficacy Lack of trust across schools and with administration Solutions Built common understanding of challenges and common language for solutions among schools Structured process to build trust and mutual accountability in networks (7-10 schools) ‘Precise’ instructional techniques, data sharing, high intensity self-improvement effort ‘Gradual release of responsibility’ from regional administration - from tight direction to loose to let go
  6. 6. Implications: policy and administration Schools are part of a whole – many interacting elements acting simultaneously; discourse and evidence needs to embrace this Multiple small steps – can’t be captured in a conventional strategic plan; need organic flexible plans New expertise needed – leadership of networks, negotiation, needs assessment, community knowledge, contracting Trust and ‘learn as we go’ – new risk assessment New administrative tools; new system arrangements – ‘compact’, localised agreements, localised data Realign rules and remove barriers – rethink industrial and regulatory environment