Critical Observations And Potentials For Change Education Essay

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Based on my observations, most of the students of Ysgol Bangor Primary School come from families where parents are working professionals; thus we can expect parents to have higher expectations of lessons given, teachers, schools, and their children overall results.

Although the current headteacher was successful in running a relatively small rural school, things are different in this new school with almost 6 times the student intake. He lacks the experience and the understanding of the requirements of such a school environment and middle class families.

There is a lack of recognition for experience and contributions by older staff; staff working many years or more are not promoted but face competition from new appointees. There appears to be signs of nepotism over the appointment of the newly qualified male teacher who is the nephew of one of the other teachers.

Despite having a limited male teacher presence, the school and board of governors appears to be practising gender biasness and ageism; particularly for the female deputy headteacher, who has been in the school's service for 20 years, she was not promoted to headteacher, rather favour is given to the current relatively young and inexperienced candidate for the role of headteacher.

The school is resting on its laurels (coasting), rather than spurring students to get better results. Parents will start to worry that overall good and respectable results hide poor progress which permits individual students to underachieve or fall behind.

There is no scrutiny from the governing body with regards to the management of the school. The regulating authority is not taking responsibility and willing to tolerate and cover up the under-performance of the school which would be deemed unacceptable elsewhere. Parents' concerns are not taken seriously and there is a lack of accountability and transparency on the governing body's part.

There are many ethical, disciplinary and governance issues involved with the "senior management team's" operational protocols, in example: a lack of responsibility and dedication to their professions, leaving early on the job, being insistent on their way of management, reluctance to having/ adapting to changes, disregarding parents' concerns, refusing attempts to encourage greater parental participation in their children's education and in the general life of the school, brushing away any modern or progressive ideas and ignoring any notion of staff appraisal and ongoing professional development, regarding such initiatives as a threat to their professionalism and an insult to the enormous experience they had gained over many years in the profession.

In short, the management team is essentially comprised of a self serving group of teachers with close relations that work collectively to block out any changes which may threaten their welfare or undermine their way of governance.

Further evidence of nepotism is suggested via the actions on the young male NQT's part; he deliberately avoided making opinions or questioning any management decisions during staff meetings in a bid to avoid any confrontation with his aunt.

The new headteacher has set a number of priorities on the future directions of the school. However, to bring these priorities into fruition involve making radical changes in the life and work of the school dynamics. In the following paragraphs, we shall discuss in detail on each of these lapses in governance and leadership could occur within the school, what certain solutions can be implemented to counteract such lapses and what are some of the impediments that may hinder the effecting of such changes.

Potential for Change: Why does the school need change?

Organizations including schools face both the forces of change and resistances to change. Forces of change need change or loss of competitive edge. Competitive forces encourages change, because a firm must be equal or do better than rivals in order to gain a competitive advantage in efficiency, quality, innovation, or pupil responsiveness. It is important to manage change when competing for student intakes. (Edwards, 2011)

Gender Biasness and Barriers Women Face in Leadership Positions

Women in leadership confront barriers or obstacles that men do not realize exist. Some myths suggest women cannot discipline older students, particularly males; females are too emotional; too weak physically; and males resent working with females. (Dean, 2007)

Society's attitude toward appropriate male and female roles is another obstacle that identifies women as not task-oriented enough, too dependent on feedback and evaluations of others, and lacking independence. Women receive little or no encouragement to seek leadership positions, while men were encouraged to enter administration to a greater degree than women, despite the positive perceptions of principals toward female capabilities. This lack of encouragement exists even though women who earn doctorates are more likely than men to desire an academic career, but are not being hired at equal rates. The cumulative disadvantage results in women leaving the profession in greater numbers than men. The lack of formal and informal social networks, or not being a member of the "clubs" as men, results in the lack of recognition that often leads to advancement. (Boutte, 2007)

How to Overcome Gender Biasness in the School

One answer to the barriers and obstacles female teachers deal with on a daily basis is mentoring. In order for women to succeed in acquiring administrative positions in education, mentoring must occur. Mentoring can significantly enhance income and promoting possibilities for individuals experiencing these relationships. Mentoring can meet the needs of both women and institutions, and it can also assist in attracting and retaining women and minority professionals in the academic work environment. Mentoring of younger workers reduces turnover, helps mentees deal with organizational issues, and accelerates their assimilation into the culture. The mentees (those women being mentored) benefit because someone cares enough to support them, advise them and help interpret inside information. (Bates, 2010)

The discrimination of women in the teaching profession is multifaceted and often disguised by standardized working routines. But just as the pressing issues are diverse, so are the strategies to address them.

The first thing to do is to build up a comprehensive database. A survey of the proportion of women in teaching staff at each hierarchical level of the education system is the key to developing further equity strategies. The information required ranges from simple statistical counting, to a closer examination of pay scale levels to looking at connections between the size of the school and the head teacher's gender. (Abdul, 1999)

With the aid of a solid database, the phenomenon of a feminized teaching staff and decreasing salaries can be addressed adequately. Surveys of specific working conditions and required skills and training at each level may be useful in challenging unjustified differences in pay between these levels.Furthermore specifying the broad and demanding duties of working in pre-school and primary education is important to increase the societal acceptance of demands for higher salaries.

Thirdly, the awareness of the education system as a "gendered organization" (Acker 1990) should be raised among trade unions' own staff as well as their members. Gender discrimination often occurs without attracting attention because it's so deeply embedded in our everyday life. For instance, although women represent the vast majority of teachers at primary level they are not similarly likely to become heads of primary schools. Imagining the opposite situation, where a few women are in superior position, leading a large number of male subordinates, seems disturbing because it does not fit traditional gender roles. (Sunal et al, 2000)

Finally, there continues to be inequities in the workplace concerning women in leadership positions. Research has provided much needed information concerning the gender gap, but how can it be bridged? Will the 21st century really bring about a change? Will time erase the gender gap in leadership that is like a brick wall for so many women? Probably not. Time will help, but more is needed. Yes, we need to recognize that women leadership styles

are different from men, but we all must embrace that difference and make room for it in the educational leadership arena. Women leaders and future leaders must not be intimidated by what society may consider as the norm, male leadership behaviors. Women can no longer remain on the side lines hoping for recognition for a job well done. (Hien, 2012)

Organisational Barriers / Resistance to Change

Reluctance to change is cemented deeply into many of the school structures today and it is extremely challenging to perform large-scale reforms of any kind before dealing first with these issues. With reference to 's findings, I have identified the following underlying barriers to change depicted in Ysgol Bangor's scenario that has to be rectified so as to bring about change with minimal resistance. (Judice, 2011)

A Matter of Attitudes

Denial

According to my observation of the school's culture, it appears many workers in the school are going through a state of denial. Many staff, including management and local authorities refused to accept the facts of the situation.

Blame

There is also indication that a blaming culture is being formed. The governing body and school had a tendency to disapprove the results of the inspection process, and attempted to disassociate themselves from any liability. A common factor in these circumstances is to highlight that " 'they' are pushing new ideas down our throat" as Stoll and Fink also pointed out. (Boyd, 2002) In this context, 'they' tends to point to either the governing body or the headteacher, and may provide a basis for avoiding change. Yet, there exists instances when fault is placed upon students and parents; individual deficiencies are typically directed onto others with excuses for their ineffectiveness or inefficiency. (Wiseman, 2009)

Unwillingness to adapt

After observation of the school's culture, it depicted an unwillingness the school management possess towards change. Change is personal and often difficult, but necessary. Teachers fear loss of jobs, schools fear loss of funding. This fear causes many to hold on to norm and comfort zones in education that prevent progress. (Edwards, 2011)

Undefined Goals and Objectives

An organisation should clarify continually the goals and objectives, outlining roles and specifying performance standards. (Bates, 2010)

Fear of control loss

Who are the ones that control education? Is it politicians, teachers, or parents? Everybody wishes to have some form of control on how we learn, what we learn and when we learn it. The school system is rejecting change because they are afraid of losing control. (Reeves, 2009)

Stagnant thinking

What happens with stagnant thinking is that many school systems put funds into very traditional teaching and learning methods and tools. Try teaching the millennials with traditional textbooks and worksheets. When they fall asleep don't punish them!

One size fits all

Not all kids learn the same way and at the same pace. We can't try to fit them through the same industrial "one size fits all" system. We have to foster diversity of thinking as well as pathways for "how" they learn. (Herbert, 2009)

Lack of or Bad Leadership

Strong leadership is required in order to direct the change management process in any organisation. Bad leaders who merely provide are not doing enough to inspire the employees to march ahead. People want to be shown the way. Theres not so much of a lack in intent, but more so in knowing how to manage institutional change successfully. (Hitt, 2009)

Leadership Characteristics that Facilitate School Change

Research on schools has constantly reflected that the leaders strong in both initiating structure and consideration are most effective. Effective school leaders are task and people-oriented. Hoy and Brown (cited in Judice, 2011) report that teachers tend to favour headteachers with "a leadership style that blends together structure and consideration".

Teacher leadership has traditionally being regarded as department heads and etc. Recent educational reforms triggers us to rethink about teacher leadership. Reforms such as site based management and restructuring efforts include broader roles for teacher participation and leadership. Current teacher leadership roles are involving teachers as mentors, team leaders, curriculum developers, and staff development providers and intend to "improve the quality of public education while allowing teachers greater leadership in the development of those improvements". (Busher, 2006)

These roles involve teachers in decision-making processes and enable teachers to become change leaders. Nickse (cited in Wiseman, 2009) studied teachers as leaders of change and recommended teachers in leadership roles in change efforts for four reasons:

First, teachers have a vested interest, "they care about what they do and how they do it and feel a sense of responsibility for their efforts"; second, teachers have a sense of history, they are "aware of the norms of their colleagues"; third, teachers know the community, "have information concerning the values and attitudes of the community" and fourth, teachers can implement change, they "are where the action is. . .in the position to initiate planned change on the basis of need". (Judice, 2011)

The data on leaders of educational change and the emerging information on teacher leadership indicate that the characteristics of these individuals mirror those of leaders who have changed other organizations. Leaders of educational change have vision, foster a shared vision, and value human resources. They are proactive and take risks. In addition, they strongly believe that the purpose of schools is to meet the academic needs of students and are effective communicators and listeners. (Wiseman, 2009)

Believing that Schools are for Students' Learning

How teachers' values and beliefs impact their leadership skills needs to be studied. Teachers valuing working with students and believing they have influence on students' achievement may prove to be significant as teachers assume more leadership roles. Believing that schools are for students' learning frequently surfaced as a common characteristic of leaders that promote school change. Effective teachers believe that students come first; effective principals believe in meeting the instructional needs of the students. Teachers value working with students and believe that they have an impact on their achievement. They have the shared belief that students' learning is of primary importance. (Reeves, 2009)

Fostering Organizational Culture Change

Cultural changes, required for sustainable school improvement to take place, can occur as a result of post-transformational leadership, and added that transactional leadership styles are less likely to facilitate such a process; however the transformational model can be of some use. By definition, transformational and post-transformational leadership indicate the ability to empower others with the purpose to bring about reform. (Hien, 2012)

Leaders must follow four essentials if they are to bring about cultural change for the school:

First, leaders must define what will not change. They must articulate the values, practices, traditions and relationships that will not be lost.

Second, organisational culture will change with leadership actions; speeches and announcements are not enough. Leaders speak most clearly with their actions - changes they make in decision rules, allocation of personal time, and relationships. When staff members hear the call for transformation from a leader who personal actions remained unchanged, their hope turns to cynicism in an instant. (Boyd 2002; Hitt, 2009)

Third, the right tools have to be used for the system. Leaders must choose appropriate change tools based on a combination of factors, including the extent to which staff members agree on what they want and their consensus on cause and effect. Leaders who come to their position with a particular method of creating change make the mistake of the person who holds a hammer and who thus sees only nails. To change the collective behaviors and beliefs of the complex organizations we call schools, leaders must apply the right combination of change tools, varying their strategies to meet the changing needs of the system.

Fourth, change in culture requires relentless personal attention and "scut work" by the leader. Although educational leaders must spend time making speeches and attending board meetings, the leaders aspiring to cultural change will take the risk, of turning a substitute teacher and spending time with bus drivers at five o' clock on a frosty morning. No doubt some leaders will insist that every job has value and there is no such thing as "scut work" in schools. If so, then back up those words with personal example and public actions. (Abdul 1999; Boutte, 2007)

Nepotism in the school

Dictionary.com defines nepotism as, "favoritism shown to relatives or close friends by those in power (as by giving them jobs)." When it comes to getting a job in the field of education, teacher Rich Brown says, "what you know is not as important as who you know". Well qualified teachers with years of experience and impressive resumes are being declined for jobs that are being awarded to recent college graduate, such as the male NQT in this case study. The reason for this occurrence, which happens all too frequently, is nepotism. The male NQT is awarded the much sought after job over other more qualified candidates because he or she is the relative of someone in that school district. He who is in charge gets to pick the people that will get the jobs.

Demonstrating nepotism when awarding teaching jobs is particularly dangerous because of the product that the employee is working with. The minds of the youth should not be placed in the hands of anything but the most qualified individual that can give them meaningful and accurate instruction. By giving out jobs based on nepotism, the students in the affected school districts are being instructed by teachers that may not be the most qualified individuals to give instruction. Sometimes teachers are actually fired if possible, or relocated to other pilot programs outside of their teaching area in order to create an opening for someone's relative that wants a job. (Reeves, 2009)

Teachers and other district employees should also promote positive, non-discriminatory, merit-based employment practices. Teachers and other employees who did not have to work hard to get their jobs often times do not feel the need to work hard to defend their jobs. In these troubling economic times job security is a great concern for many people.

Teachers who receive jobs through nepotism are weak union members unwilling to fight for their jobs and afraid to anger the relatives that provided them with the jobs in the first place, as it is with the male NQT in this case. Nepotistic hiring practices hurt teachers' unions. (Busher 2006; Dean 2007)

Less qualified teachers in the classrooms and a weakened teachers' union not willing to work hard to protect job security can have a detrimental effect on the district as a whole. If a teacher does not have experience in the subject matter being taught and is not willing to better him or herself, then student performance will likely suffer. The lack of experience and motivation on the part of the new teachers will lead to poor classroom instruction and may cause mandatory exam scores to drop. When exam scores drop, schools loose state and federal funding. When state and federal funding is lost it becomes the burden of the taxpayers of that district to compensate for the loss in funding. In order to compensate for loss of funding school taxes are increased. Increased school taxes, coupled with reports about poorly performing schools will lead to property value losses district-wide. As school districts try to correct the problem it can also become very costly to remove ineffective teachers that have tenure, which is why the selection process is suppose to be thorough and merit-based. If too many relatives are working in a district together there is also increased likelihood that the problems will persist for a long time without notice due to internal cover-ups. The process of correcting the problems resulting from nepotistic hiring practices can be very costly and time consuming. (Herbert, 2009)

How to Combat Nepotism in Schools

With nepotism being such a widespread problem people may wonder what they can possibly do to combat the issue. When it comes to the problem of nepotistic hiring practices in school districts the local public actually has much more power that it often recognizes. Education is controlled on a state level, which immediately eliminates the worry of having to combat federal bureaucracy to get the problem solved. Not only is education regulated by individual state governments, but education is often more closely regulated on a local level by school boards. The names of school employees are considered public information and are available to the community at any time. Concerned members of the public need only ask for the names of employees, compare similarities and ask informed questions. If it is found that nepotism is a problem in the district than pressure can be put on the board of education to address the unfair hiring practices. Many school districts have adopted new employment policies after prompts from the local community to eliminate nepotistic hiring practices. If a sufficient number of citizens complain to their elected state representatives it is possible to have statewide legislation enacted that addresses the nepotism problem as well, just as was seen in Oklahoma. Education is regulated on a state and local level and problems with district hiring practices can be dealt with by concerned members of the public seeking out their elected representatives and pressuring them to attend to the matter promptly. (Sunal et. al, 2000)

Role of School Governors and Board

Primary schools are both hierarchical, the headteacher bearing ultimate responsibility along with, to some extent, the governors and yet are expected to allow for a more flat management style, with an increasing stress on the participation in management of teacher leaders. As Brighouse recommended in 1997, all those with posts of responsibility should have some share of leadership, actively contributing to the schools vision. Thus leaders needed increasingly to use their personal skills to motivate, influence and gain the commitment of others toward mutually agreed goals.

Because the school board members are personally closely related with each other, board decisions they make tend to put their own interests above the needs of the school in general. Thus I believe independent members of the board need to be appointed. Just as an independent director of a company, an independent member of the school board is very often a figurehead who does not get involved in the day-to-day running of the school. Such a member is appointed to the board for a number of reasons. It could be as simple a reason as to make up the total numbers of the board. It could be for the purposes of giving the company more credence by appointing persons with standing in society. (Herbert, 2009)

Independent members bring with them a number of advantages, including independence in their views and the ability to bring an outside perspective into the board meetings. Further, as their primary function is to comment on corporate strategy and to direct general policy and overall supervision of the school, they can help to provide effective leadership. Independent members also aid in the balancing of the interests of the management team, teachers and students. The presence of independent members serves in bringing about impartiality in the board as a whole. Such impartiality effectively means that considered advice would be provided and developed for the purposes of steering the school's strategy as a whole by the school board. It is a fact that whilst independent impartial advice can also come from the professional advisers appointed by the board, including financial and legal advisers, however, the independent member's role goes further. He is, for one, able to directly contribute and possibly shape the deliberations of the board. (Edwards 2011; Wiseman 2009)

Independent board members also play a crucial supervisory function. It is thus that from a corporate governance perspective, independent members are required to sit on a number of watch-dog committees, including the audit committee, the nominating committee and the remuneration committee. Given the position they occupy, they are also well placed to monitor the performance of the board as a whole. Where the board's performance is found to be lacking, the independent members can provide requisite reports to ensure that suitable remedies are taken. On balance, independent board members aid in the strengthening of the leadership qualities of the board. (Boyd, 2002)

Conclusion

Impediments are temporary setbacks to leaders who provide a vision, strategy, and communications that allow people to devise ways to say yes to change. Any change effort must be built by an understanding of the culture of the organization, the environment, the people of the organization, and the need to change an organization.

Change will be impossible without changing the governance of schools. This is an issue sorely in need of research and discussion, because it is not a simple matter. It is not really a question of centralising power in the executive or board of governors, but of finding better ways to encourage faculty and administrators to see the benefits of change and take responsibility and reward them for doing it.

A school that identifies a need or requirement to change must use every asset and means available to spread information about how the need or requirement to change affects the school and each individual.

(Word Count: 4160 words)

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