This is a presentation given to the 'Pathway to the principalship' program co-ordinated by The Brown Collective for Sydney Catholic Schools. It builds on a recent chapter in the Flip the System Australia book.
Flip the system
Educating is political. Decisions
regarding what is taught, how it is
taught, and how students are
assessed reflect a version of what
makes an effective school. …
However, while what is judged as an
effective education is contested by
many in society, do we as educators
actively engage in this contestation?
Eacott, S. (2019). Empowering educators through flipped school
leadership? In D. Netolicky, J. Andrews & C. Paterson (Eds.) Flip the
system Australia: What matters in education (pp. 189-197). New
York, NY: Routledge.
A call for school leadership based on a
broad principle that recognises there is no
one size fits all approach to education, an
embracing of professionalism in the
justification of practices, and flipping the
criteria for effectiveness to educators and
not those outside of schools.
Translating theory into practice
The relational approach Practice
RE1: We are unconsciously
complicit with the world as it is
RE2: As a result, we need to
problematise our language
RE3: The contemporary conditions
are shaped by and shaping of our
image of organising
RE4: We need to go beyond
RE5: A generative rather than
merely critical theorising
Many debates about the effectiveness of schools
and/educators come down to differences in the
purpose/s of schooling. In the absence of an explicitly
identified purpose means that others will assume a
purpose and make judgements based on that. To this
end, the first step towards effectiveness is having
clarity of purpose and being able to articulate that
purpose. This means that you generate the conditions
/ criteria in which you are assessed. It also means
that others may be pursuing different purposes to
Effectiveness begins with clarity
Amy, a principal
We are a really good school. We are
effective. We say we will educate
the kids in a holistic manner, and
that is what we do. Although we
are answerable to our political
masters, at the same time you have
to be true to yourself and enact
what we see as a good education.
Eacott, S. (2013). Asking questions of leadership: using social
theory for more than critique. Leading & Managing, 19(1), 18-31.
Explicitly articulating the purpose of education
provides the basis from which to judge performance.
That is, with clarity comes judgement based on the
coherence of your activity against that purpose.
Importantly, this becomes not about right / wrong and
instead whether the activities of the school, faculty, or
teacher are consistent with the articulated purpose/s.
You are judged in relation to coherence
Having established the purpose/s for which you are
working towards and demonstrating coherence (or at
least naming the criteria by which you wish to be
judged) you generate the narrative for your school.
This narrative need not be the same as other
schools. It is not about consensus but crafting unique
stories about the work of educators.
You generate the narrative for your school