Decentralization Of School Management Education Essay

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In the 1980s and 1990s, a new international trend emerged in many developed countries throughout the world, that of decentralization of their education system. It was obvious that large, centralized bureaucracies didn't possessed the necessary qualities to keep pace with the rapidly changing economic realities. According to Levacic (1998) and Raab (2000), the step was to decentralize the decision-making from the central government to the local school level and to share the decision-making among the principal, teachers, parents, community members and students at the school level (Ng and Chan, 2008).

Accordingly, many schools adopted the school-based reforms, with a goal to upgrade the quality of education, which is expected to sustain the state competitiveness internationally. Ng and Chan (2008) further enumerated various examples of such school-based reforms that have taken place in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. The UNESCO report added other examples in Europe, Asia and Latin America (Abu-Duhoo, 1999)

They further interpreted such a collective shift as a means to enhance the education quality, responding to globalization and to develop the knowledge-based economy. This decentralization archetype is expected to provide greater freedom and responsibility to principals, teachers, students and parents, in domains like the school decision making about budgets, personnel and the curriculum. Such a freedom will enable them to establish more effective learning environments for the students (Ng and Chan, 2008).

The Economic Note (2007) also examined this particular form of "market-based education reform" known as decentralization of school management which has gained popularity during the recent years. Also known as school-based management, the decentralization of school management can be in various modes and has emerged in many forms in different countries.

The main argument brought to support decentralization is that principals, teachers and parents are rightly positioned to make decisions regarding the ways a school's resources must be organized in order to meet the needs of both the students and the community at large (Economic Note, 2007).


Many advantages have been observed such as an improvement in educational outcomes due to the enhanced management and accountability of schools and examples of that are: an increase in the passing rate and a decline in the rate of drop-outs. Another advantage is a more effective organization as an autonomous school had the strongly influences the overall quality of the school organization (Economic Note, 2007).

Other prospective benefits from decentralization are an increase in efficiency and innovation in the process of teaching and learning, a reduction in the educational bureaucracy, schools become more receptive to the needs of the local communities, the accountability is reinforced and an increased commitment with the schools, thus increasing the financial support. Increased self-management for schools is a key element in whichever strategy to provide greater choice in education (Economic Note, 2007).

In World Bank (2007b), the authors provide a comprehensive analysis of case studies in some countries where "the process of decentralization of authority to the local-level" is in force from the past decades.

Among the various strategies brought by Governments around the world for the improvement of financing and delivering of education services and more recently to improve the quality and to increase quantity of enrollment rates, is the decentralization of educational decision-making. Defenders of this strategy argue that such type of decentralization encourages demand and it guarantees that schools now echo priorities and values of the local communities (World Bank 2007b).

In conferring the freedom to voice out and the decision-making power to local stakeholders, who is more knowledgeable about the local education systems than the chief policymakers, decentralization can bring greater progress to educational outcomes thus increasing the clients' satisfaction (World Bank 2007b).

The decentralization of decision-making in education has various definitions and names but it is most commonly known as School-based Management (SBM). However they are all relevant in decentralizing authority from the central government down to school level (World Bank 2007b).


Caldwell (2005) has observed that the governments of every country aim at transforming their schools. Transformation is only attained when "significant, systematic, and sustained change has occurred", thus improving outcomes for every students in whichever settings and contributing socially and economically to a country. One of the strategies invariably proposed to meet this goal is the School-based management.

The management of a school is in no way a simple task, the head of school alone will not be able to attend to all these duties. As Dash and Dash (2008) have rightly pointed out that "School management is a cooperative human endeavor." They further continued by explaining that for an effective school management, teachers, parents, students and even the community members have to cooperate with the head of school even if he is the manager of "this human enterprise".

Through the literature, we have come across several definitions of school-based management where one complements the other. Some of them are worth noting:

The Economic Note (2007) defined School-based management as "the systematic decentralization to the school level of authority and responsibility to make decisions on significant matters related to school operations within a centrally determined framework of goals, policies, curriculum, standards, and accountability."

In the World Bank (2007b), two main definitions were quoted. First, Caldwell (2005) definition "SBM is the decentralization of authority from the central government to the school level". Secondly, the definition of Malen, Ogawa and Kranz (1990), which stated that SBM can be considered theoretically as a formal modification of governance structures, as a type of decentralization which view the individual school as the most important unit of development and depends on the redistribution of decision-making authority as the main way through which improvement might be enthused and sustained (World Bank, 2007b).

Bush and Gamage (2001) quoted a definition of school-based management given by Caldwell and Spinks (1988) as a self-managing school as one for which there has been major and stable decentralization down to the school level of authority to associate decisions to the distribution of resources.

Decentralization of school management is another way of calling the above mentioned cooperation. Decentralization or school-based management varies from country to country and it can take different shapes (Economic Note, 2007).

Caldwell (2005) pointed out that SBM has many different meanings. Its implementation has been made in different ways and for various reasons. Moreover the rate for its realization varies from place to place through different settings.

A large number of countries in the world have adopted the SBM in different forms of self-governance according to their specific context. However each of them revolves around the same central idea that greater autonomy will lead to improved educational outcomes (Bush and Gamage, 2001). Furthermore, there has been a rise in both the authority and responsibility down to the school level without forgetting the parameters which guarantee the sustainability of the system (Caldwell, 2005).

The authority is typically delegated to the governing bodies at school level which consist of representatives of significant stakeholders, at the same instance as the allocation of the operational management to the rector. The concept of self-governance is centered on the idea that decision-making concerning groups of individual within the educational system should be in the hand of those within the schools instead of the national or local politicians or officials (Bush and Gamage, 2001).

The SBM was initially put into operation in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, followed by many governments and agencies in developing countries who also became more and more interested in such a management style (Caldwell, 2005).

A rising number of developing countries are establishing school-based management in their school with the objectives of empowering principals and teachers or of boosting their professional drive, thus developing their sense of ownership to the school (World Bank, 2007b).

Across all OECD countries, the trend is to be more autonomous, to decentralize the functions and to encourage openness to local requirements, aiming at an increase in the performance levels (World Bank, 2007b).

SBM has already been proven beneficial as most countries with independent schools in terms of allocation and management of resources and bringing change in the educational content, have students who have good performance in international student achievement tests (World Bank, 2007b).

Moreover schools which empower teachers and stakeholders to participate in the decision-making concerning the course contents or the budget have a greater enrolment rate consisting of the majority of the students' population in the OECD countries. School autonomy and student performance are very much linked positively. Furthermore greater autonomy does not mean greater disparity in student's performance since the governments provide the necessary support to schools with poor performance to increase their level. Examples of that are countries like Finland and Sweden who have the least performance variations among their schools and who have the greatest degree of school autonomy (World Bank, 2007b).

These reforms also include reinforcing parental and community participation in the schools, often via school councils. The conclusion of this toolkit is that there is no single best practice, but this toolkit provides some common principles that can broadly be applied to the realization of SBM reforms (World Bank, 2007b).

Caldwell (2005) pointed out that a significant implication of school-based management is that school leaders should be competent for decision-making on critical matters concerning the school operations and recognize and consider the elements in a centrally-determined framework which pertain to every schools in the system.

He further unfolds the different most-important domains in which the local decision-making would take place, from recent studies (Caldwell and Hayward, 1998; Caldwell and Spinks, 1998; Fullan and Watson, 2000; Ouchi and Segal, 2003; Volansky and Friedman, 2003). These are : "learning and teaching and the support of learning and teaching", particularly the capacity building of the personnel to devise and provide a curriculum and pedagogy that satisfies the needs of students, considering the priorities in the local background and having the capacity to identify needs and oversee outcomes. Adding to that, capacity building of the community is important to assist the schools in their efforts (Caldwell 2005).

Another important aspect of the school-based management is to decide who will be designate to responsible for the decentralized functions. The report of the World Bank (2007b) has proposed four models that illustrate the numerous compositions in school-based management reforms:

1. administrative-control SBM - the authority is entrusted to the school principal

2. professional-control SBM - teachers hold the main decision-making authority

3. community-control SBM - parents have the major decision-making authority

4. balanced-control SBM - decision-making authority is shared by both parents and teachers.


Thomas and Martin (1996) quoted the conclusion of OECD countries synthesis of studies, conducted in nine countries, which welcomed cautiously the self-management of schools and which talked about its potential benefits. The more autonomous the school, the better will be its functioning through a more flexible structure and better utilization of resources. The same report also pointed out that SBM brought more professional development which leads to more knowledgeable teachers and parents and better planning and application in decision making due to data collection.

The World Bank (2007a) has enumerated various advantages of adopting such a management style, namely:

Better quality education - It resulted from a more efficient and transparent use of resources

More open and welcoming school environment - It is because the community takes active part in the management of the school

Increased participation of all stakeholders in decision-making processes - It leads to a more collegial relationship and increased satisfaction

Improved student performance- It resulted from a reduced rate of repetition and dropout rates

Better learning outcomes are the result obtained from the above mentioned benefits.

Everything has its advantages and its disadvantages, even school-based management. To successfully implement a decentralized policy there are certain implication that should be taken into due consideration. Failing to do so, the stakeholders will find major obstacles in their way to maintain the school-based management as such (IIEP, 2004).

The IIEP (2004) conducted a research in some African countries, namely Benin, Guinea, Mali and Senegal to observe and analyze the implementation of decentralization mostly via field studies on local education offices and schools. Interviews conducted with the major local stakeholders such as head and staff of local education offices, representatives of local authorities, head teachers, teachers, parents' associations and external partners, revealed that they have met numerous obstacles to successfully implement such a policy. Below is an enumeration of the above mentioned obstacles:

1. Poor quality monitoring

2. Overloaded and under sourced schools: (The financial and material resources allocated to schools by the central education authorities are insufficient.

3. Lack of transparency

4. Different categories of teachers

5. Little support from local authorities

6. Cultural obstacles


Spillane (2005) claim that Leadership includes "an array of individuals" with numerous means and a variety of structures. Distributed leadership has been of great interest in many countries. Several terminologies are used to describe this concept, such as shared leadership, team leadership, and democratic leadership. In some cases distributed leadership means that school leadership comprises of several leaders; others claim that leadership is a quality pertaining to the organization and not to an individual only. Yet others define distributed leadership as a way to consider the practice of school leadership (Gronn, 2002; Spillane et al., 2004).Distributed leadership is primarily and principally about leadership practice instead of the leaders or their positions, tasks, schedules, and constitutions.

According to Huber (2004), when schools are regarded as learning organizations, it implies that the stakeholders should be given the necessary power and they should operate in cooperation. In brief Huber (2004) said that "Leadership is about empowering others as viable partners in leadership". Spillane (2005) also mentions the different terminologies used to describe distributed leadership and these are cooperative leadership, democratic leadership and emergent concepts known as organizational-educational management (Rosenbusch, 1997), post-transformational leadership (West, Jackson, Harris and Hopkins 2000), or Huber's (2004) integrative approach to leadership, which has as focal point the fundamental aim of school. This concept is also about adjusting school leadership to the target of school in incorporating the different functions and expectations and putting emphasis on empowering the different stakeholders.

Mintzberg (2004) asserts that terms such as bosses and subordinates are becoming outdated. He mentioned that instead the relation should be shifted to colleagues and partners, sideways and not hierarchical. Nominated leaders are needed in the web to unite and be part of the cause rather than to give orders and supervise.

Successful leadership is more about inspiring than empowering; more about connecting than controlling; more about demonstrating than decision-making. And all this is done by full engagement, a great deal more than anyone else (Mintzberg, 2004).

Reviewing Sergiovanni (2001) and Bezzina (2006), Jacobson (2011) found that organizational restructuring in booming schools are frequently those having cultures of collaboration which are embedded in diverse modes of distributed leadership (DL), whose teachers assume both formal and informal responsibilities (Jacobson, 2011).

Distributed Leadership is also considered as an intentional component of the organizational redesign which has the potential of school upgrading as Gronn and Hamilton (2004); Firestone and Martinez (2007); Leithwood, Mascall, Strauss, Sacks, Memon and Yashkina (2007) and Mayrowitz , Murphy, Seashore and Smylie (2007) pointed out.

However, Timperley (2005) showed that others have uncertainties about who should be involved in the distributed leadership and if so when. This should depend on their level expertise and whether their own agenda match that of the organization (Jacobson, 2011).

Still other authors like Spillane, Camburn and Pareja (2007) consider Distributed Leadership as a substitute viewpoint to universal concepts of leadership which comprises of frequent interactions between formal leaders and their followers.

There are particular modes of distributed leadership depending upon diverse characteristics and contexts such as assorted structures, methods of working, goals and principles, and ethical and other factors regarding issues like rights to participation. These particular manifestations often overlap with other ideas of leadership such as collegiality and democratic among others (Bennet, Wise, Woods and Harvey, 2003).

Distributed leadership fundamentally could be viewed as an analytical orientation to leadership, that leaves open or actuality entails, options and priorities regarding its operation thus creating differing tangible natures and structures of distributed leadership. (Bennet et al., 2003)

Throughout their article, Bennet et al. (2003) have distinguished between numerous alterable features. Below is a summary of these variable features

• Control/autonomy: This major variable emphasize on limitations set by higher levels in the hierarchy or even by the circumstance in which the organization operates. Some aims or principles are established by formal leaders who are directly answerable to outsiders concerning the organisation's performance, and these are referred to as non-negotiable as Graetz (2000) pointed out.

• Organisational structure and agency: Some approaches in practicing and studying distributed leadership focus more on the organizational configuration of leadership rather than on the prospect, purposes, and theories in use of individuals; or vice versa. This characteristic was observed in comparative studies made by Harris and Chapman (2002), Spillane et al. (2001), and Goodman, Baron and Myers (2001).

• Social and cultural context: It has considerable impact on distributed leadership as the social and cultural background may act either in a positive or negative way to initiate and uphold the necessary conditions for distributed leadership to boom, as mentioned by Knight and Trowler (2001), Bryant (2003) and Kets de Vries (1999). Both external and social cultural context and the organizational culture exerts their influence on the distributed leadership (Bennet et al., 2003)

• Source of change: The stimulus for the development of the distributed leadership can originate from different sources. Firstly, as Bickmore (2001) suggested, it can start from policies or external ideas to the formal members of an organization. Secondly numerous studies showed that distributed leadership can be developed by a "top down" initiative from a powerful and charismatic leader, often in the forms of the headteacher or principal or senior leaders. Thirdly the impetus may come from a 'bottom up' initiative from the organization or from a group of people that embody partly the organization. This could occur in response to either a formal policy requirement from the organization, or to some external pressure (Bennet et al., 2003).

• Positional/informal leadership: Variations occurs according to the degree of involvement of informal leaders in the practice of distributed leadership. It may comes from a 'top down' initiative who acknowledge such type of leadership relationships within the community or from a 'bottom up' initiative through individuals or groups inside the organization who are perceived by others as having a leadership role (Bennet et al., 2003).

• Dynamics of team working: Team work emphasizes on collaboration, multiple and complementary strengths and expertise, and it is also necessary for all members to have the same view of the purposes of the team and its ways of working. All these characteristics have correspondence to a great extent of the opinions about distributed leadership (Karkkainen, 2000). Moreover researchers often differentiate between two types of teams namely the formally structured teams and those which are formed for a particular purpose to carry out specific projects. Both style mutually function best in an open environment, where the relationships are founded on trust, mutual protection and support (Bennet et al., 2003).

• Institutional and spontaneous forms of distributed leadership: This form of distributed leadership may be practiced through a long-term institutional form with team structures and committees. On the other hand, the literature also revealed the existence of a strong theme of fluid leadership, based on know-how rather than the stance and which function according to varying ad hoc groups formed on the on account of immediate and appropriate expertise. Such leadership will only be possible within an atmosphere of trust and mutual support which in turn becomes an integral part of the internal organizational, social and cultural context (Bennet et al., 2003).

• Conflict resolution: Successful teams and the practice of distributed leadership should provide for means to face and to resolve conflicts. Such an approach may have to function in a much larger sphere than would be required by smaller teams. The conflict resolution approach can be hierarchical, headed by a sole leader, or more mutually respectful, through united or collective leadership, depending on the motives and on the degree of hierarchy (Bennet et al., 2003).


Distributed leadership is beneficial in many ways. First, according to Harris (2004) and Spillane (2006), it gives recognition to individuals in both formal and informal positions to be responsible for leadership activities via a network of interactions (Gamage, Adams and Mc.Cormack, 2009).

Based on observations, Harris (2004) noticed that distributed leadership has plays a part in the stable improvement of schools in domains like high levels of both student skills and achievements.

Accordingly distributed leadership is recognized as a collective leadership where teachers became experts by working in collaboration, since connect people in the leadership activity was the essence of distributed leadership practice. Day (2004) affirms that such a practice greatly encourages teacher participation and dedication and Duignan (2006) asserts that the transparency and efficiency of team management show the way to development of the processes, content, and outcomes of both teaching and learning (Gamage et al., 2009).

According to Leithwood, Jantzi and Steinbach (1999), in participative leadership settings decision-making processes of the group have to be the fundamental focus of the group. This 'normative model' is supported by three criteria namely: school effectiveness is improved by participation, Participation comprises of democratic ideologies and any lawful stakeholder is eligible to the Leadership position. Sergiovanni (1984) also shared this point of view by claiming that a participative approach thrives in "bonding" personnel together and in attenuating the pressures on school principals (Bush, 2003).

The burdens of leadership will decrease only when leadership functions and roles are shared and the concept of leadership density emerged as a feasible replacement for principal leadership (Bush, 2003).

As elaborated above, distributed leadership has been very popular and largely adopted in the professional world during the past decade. However a large amount of the discussion is 'prescriptive', that is it is based on ideals rather than data. Both theory and empirical study propose to be cautious with such an approach as "there is a time and a place for sharing leadership". Guidance should be sought to better understand when and how to share leadership for learning. Yet when being in the right hands, shared leadership is a powerful tool for expanding the school's capacity to achieve its vision and create its own desired future. It is worth noting that research does recommends that even if policy measures supports shared leadership, the principal's own leadership is crucial in developing the leadership of others (Hallinger, 2011).

Gronn (2008) observed that no matter what the future might consider for the idea of distributed leadership, yet, the prospect to ponder on its history and scholarly uptake has consolidated the argument that distributed leadership has contributed to an improved understanding and appraising of the work of schools and it has been both perceptive and productive (Gronn, 2008).


There is a need to redefine the nature of leadership, management and governing schools (Caldwell, 2006). From studies on effective leadership in schools it can be seen that the authority to lead may not inevitably be situated in the person of the leader but may be scattered inside the school among different people (MacBeath, 1998; Day, Harris, Hadfield, Tolley and Beresford, 2000). Therefore, Leadership is not centered in a person or an office (Mulford, 2003).

The school leaders must bear in mind that schools are places where leadership actions are distributed and diffused across the whole school. Every member of the staff must be responsible for leading his or her practice. Moreover the school leaders must be attentive of the fact that individual schools are now working in collaboration with other schools in their locality or with other agencies and professionals. Networks are being formed. Consequently, traditional beliefs that learning is developed only in the classroom, or only in the hands of the school principal should be replaced with the concept of extended and multi-professional practice (Devecchi and Nevin 2010; Normore).


Principal or Rector is the first key actor. The rector will need strong data that can be used for decision-making and to make the school development plan. This should be done using data gathered on the spot. It is the rector who organizes the time-table and distribute work load. However, the rector alone cannot change everything; teachers and external partners are important stakeholders. Rectors lead instruction at the school, help teacher develop instructional strategies and techniques and encourages teamwork, ensure in - service training and plan for seminars for his staff, assemble resources and distribute them to benefit the students, maintain a well - balanced staff with multiple techniques and competencies, establish goals for the school and articulate those goals with clarity, conviction and understanding (Hopkins, 2005).

Teacher is a key resizing actor. A school is a reflection of the quality of the teachers it has and transformation can only occur with good teachers. Every teacher is different and every teacher matters. Moreover, Schools cannot work in isolation. Besides the headmaster, the teacher and the students, there are also the school community comprising of parents and people at large who are engaged in providing support to the school (Hopkins, 2005).


Teacher leadership may be either official or unofficial depending on its nature. There are many designations which can be associated with formal leadership role of teachers such as leading teachers, supervising teachers, head of departments, representatives of union, members of the school governance council, mentors and so on. Teachers responsible to assume these roles have to carry out a wide range of functions which are related to decision-making (Fullan, 1993). They must support and enhance the professional growth of colleagues (Wasley, 1991) and this will automatically lead to the improvement of decision-making processes in schools (Malen et al. 1990). These leadership roles are also expected to initiate new teachers into the school, and to influence the motivation and aptitude of other teachers in a positive way in order to implement change in the school (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991; Whitaker, 1995) as quoted by Leithwood (1998).

These formal leadership roles bring about a commitment to lifelong learning and collaboration in teachers. Teachers are expected to become self-developing and seek to develop from others. They will develop a multitude of learning styles and practice constant evaluations and reflections. They will look for learners, seek challenges and also support from others. It will definitely result in the creation of Knowledge. There will be ongoing professional development programs and courses with true commitment to participate and learn. Teachers will be ever ready for positive changes and be up to date with the new development in both pedagogical and administrative fields. Through formal teacher leadership schools become a real learning organization (Aspinwall, 1996).

Among the advantages of teacher leadership is that teachers will be attracted to their job and be motivated to stay in the teaching profession. They will have a feeling of belongingness by believing that they are contributing to the success of both their school and students. In their studies, Louis and Kruse (1995) have shown the essential role of leadership at school-level in the development of a professional community. Factors such as teacher morale, efficacy, conditions of work, and professional autonomy play a vital role in the emotional lives of teachers (Hargreaves, 2000). Teachers generally prefer rectors who are honest, communicative, participatory, collegial, informal, supportive, demanding and reasonable in their expectations. They prefer rectors with a clear vision for the school and who work 'with' rather than 'through' (Day et al., 2000).

Structural change is a further requirement for effective teacher leadership. The profession should expand, invent and provide opportunities for teacher leadership. There should be a variety of choices for the teachers so that they may show their potential as teacher leaders. The organizational structure should become more flexible. The structure should allow teachers to express their leadership abilities in exploring multiple conceptions of the teacher's role such as team leader, lead teacher, teacher researcher, master teacher. It is after the realization of these objectives that school will be able to benefit from its teachers fully (Mulford, 2003).

Research concluded that effective principal and teacher leaders exercise a positive influence on the schools' capacity in improving the achievement of students (Harris 2004). It stimulates professional development and thus the quality of teaching is improved and it influences the levels of motivation and achievement in students and the quality of teaching in the classroom (Fullan, 2001). According to Portin (2009a), Research showed that individual leadership has become more and more evident. The charismatic leader or 'great man/woman' leader may realize school improvement and student achievement to an extent, but is not sustainable especially when the leader leaves or is retired. This sustainability is shaped through teacher leadership. These teacher leaders produce instructional and specific conversations develop a relationship based on trust and promote shared leadership which consequently develops in a team oriented culture (Stephenson, Dada and Harold, 2012).

Teacher leadership roles are dependent mainly on the support received from rectors (Mangin, 2005). Rectors with higher levels of knowledge and experience in teacher leadership can bring about overall school improvement. Frequent and sustained interaction with the teacher leaders and their colleagues by the rector promotes support for teacher leadership (Stephenson et al., 2012).

According to Portin (2009b), when rectors create and sustain shared instructional leadership teams, they manage the distribution of expertise and support individual and collective professional learning within the teams more effectively. The teams enable the rectors to foster teacher leadership development. Moreover, the greater the teacher leaders contact with the rector, the greater the opportunities for them to influence the school agenda to promote learning improvement (Stephenson et al., 2012)

Other characteristics of effective teacher leaders include expertise in their respective field, high opinion for their own instructional skills, self-confidence and the winning the confidence of other educators, enthusiasm, readiness to try new ideas and respect for the views of others (Danielson, 2008). Only teachers attuned to student learning and development were recognized as having content and pedagogy knowledge worthy of attention. Teachers' pedagogical expertise and roles can be extended by engaging them in leadership activities which is likely to permit them to share power, involve in decision making and thus endorse their role as well as their teaching profession. Teacher leaders take on greater responsibility and change from being a decision receiver to a decision maker (Stephenson et al., 2012).

Some research also pointed out some mixed results mainly due to actual facts and circumstances. For example, many ambitious initiatives establishing formal teacher leadership roles through the creation of career ladders have been left out (Hart, 1995). And Hannay and Denby's (1994) study of heads of departments found that they were not very effective as facilitators of change mainly due to their lack of knowledge and skill in implementing effective change strategies. However, Duke, Showers and Imber (1980) studies showed that greater participation of teachers in school decision-making resulted in a more democratic school. An increase in professional learning has also been noted as an effect of assuming such a role (Wasley, 1991; Lieberman, Saxl and Miles, 1988; Leithwood, 1998).


Although many reforms are being made by governments and changes are imposed from above and outside, there is also wish for change within schools so as to improve teaching and learning. Generally, the rectors have the task of driving changes and teachers have the responsibility for implementing those changes. This structure brings about the necessity for middle managers to bring about the link between rectors and classroom teachers. In secondary schools these middle managers are represented as HoDs and other such post so that leadership responsibilities are distributed and thus bringing not only cooperation but also helping the rectors in their duties (Dinham, 2007).

The HoD has some formal duties and responsibilities assigned to them. They are accountable for their departments and they exert their influences both horizontally and vertically. This is further extended within and beyond the department and school (Dinham, 2007).

The new trend in education is moving towards greater school autonomy in certain areas such as management (Beare, Caldwell and Millikan, 1989). This change is bringing about greater centralization, accountability and control through numerous means such as outcomes based assessment, standardized testing and reporting of student and school performance and so on. We can say that the workload of the HoD has become more complex, demanding and exigent. Furthermore the HoDs generally have a significant teaching load. He or she can be responsible for ten or more staff in larger secondary schools. The teaching and learning of hundreds of students depend on his competences (Dinham, 2007).

The role of the HoD can be divided into two namely the internal and external roles. The internal role includes the allocation of classes to staff; the allocation of resources; coordinator; monitor of standards; delegator of responsibilities to others in the department. The external role includes developing and maintaining good working relationships with other HoD, other educators, the inspectorate, school panels, Senior management Teams and the governors or managers (Turner, 2005).

The HoDs may have difficulties in these four areas given below:

There may be disagreement between the HoDs and individual members of the department on lesson planning. They may argue on the constituent of a good lesson. They may have differing views on the ways and methods also (Arrowsmith, 2001).

There may be damage to morale especially if the training needs met by the performance review are not satisfied.

Assumption that all teachers have the same motivation and determination to improve the level of teaching they are delivering is not all the time reliable. There may be teachers who lack motivation due to not having promoted or who have been passed over for promotions.

HoDs are themselves loaded by work. They may get difficulties in providing necessary support and coaching in order to help other members of the department (Turner, 2005).

There are many factors which may affect the effectiveness of the department. The HoD should possess a collegiate management and leadership style. He should have a strong vision for the subject which is interpreted in the classrooms. The department should be well organized especially in terms of record keeping which includes assessments, homeworks, and so on. There should also be effective monitoring and evaluation by the teachers as well as the HoD. The latter shall see to it that lessons are well structured and regular feedbacks are given by teachers. He should check classroom routines and practices. The HoD has the heavy task of verifying whether the syllabus match the needs and abilities of pupils or not. The pupils should be rewarded for their performances in the subject. The department must provide opportunities to its teachers for autonomous learning. The main focus of the department should be on teaching and learning (Turner, 2005)

The main tasks of the HoD together with the methods they may use are listed below:

The Strategic Direction and Development of the Subject - The HoD may hold meetings to discuss about departmental policies, sharing of practices where teachers can participate in decision making, planning of curriculum change if need be based on inspection, examination results and policies.

Teaching and Learning - The HoD observes teaching formally and informally in order to be able to influence teaching and learning positively. He should hold meeting to discuss pedagogical issues. He can also monitor the work of pupils recurrently.

Leading and Managing Staff - The HoD may lead professional development courses. He may provide individual coaching where required. Innovations in teaching and learning methods will be most of the time appreciated. The HoD should work in teams with his teachers especially in a team-teaching situation.

The Effective Deployment of Staff and Resources - The HoDs should organize his staff time-table in order to match staff with appropriate classes whenever possible. Departmental meetings should be held to discuss the effective use of resources (Turner, 2005)

The role of HoDs is very complex. But still it is part of the responsibilities that are meant for a Rector. Therefore, by making this division of labor and distributed leadership, the whole institution benefits. In order to facilitate these Middle-managers in their duties, some institutions allocate them with some free periods where they can set aside some time to work exclusively on their respective departments (Turner, 2005).


The Mauritian education system is patterned after the British model as Mauritius was a British colony (Ajaheb-Jahangeer and Jahangeer, 2004).

The Education system of Mauritius can be summarized as follows:

Pre-primary schooling: 2 years

Compulsory primary schooling: 6 years

Compulsory secondary schooling up to 'O Level': 5 years or

Pre-vocational schooling: 3 years

Secondary schooling up to 'A Level': 2 years

Tertiary education (EHRSP, 2009)

There are three different types of secondary schools in Mauritius which can be classified as follows:

State Secondary Schools and State Colleges

Private Secondary Schools

Fee Paying Schools (Ministry of Education and Human Resources 2012)

There are 69 State Secondary Schools and State Colleges in Mauritius (Ministry of Education and Human Resources, 2012).

The public and private sector partnership has for long been the initiator of projects in the education sector. After the decision of the government to provide free education for all in 1977, the private sector provided the facilities to meet the government objectives. The Private Secondary Schools Authority (PSSA) was established in order to provide the facilities and maintain standards in private secondary schools, while the state provided grants to cover the adequate costs (EHRSP, 2009).

There are 79 private government aided secondary schools in Mauritius and 7 in Rodrigues. The private unaided secondary schools are 17 in total (PSSA, 2012). Among these schools 17 private government aided secondary schools are under the coordination of 'The Bureau de L'Education Catholique' (BEC, 2011). The schools can be divided into confessional and non-confessional schools.


The Ministry of Education has presented several papers involving education planning for the whole country. In the Ramphul Report, leadership was found mainly on two levels: The ministry's level and leadership is at the level of the management of the private secondary schools (Ramphul, 1973).

The 'Future in our Hands' report clearly stated that the advent of free education did bring greater expectation on educational leaders. It gives great importance to leadership at all levels and defines well their scope of action. This report gives special attention to quality of education and training of staff. It empowers rectors to become leaders by considering every school in its own context and environment. Educational leadership was somehow transactional (Jagatsingh, 1979).

In the Master Plan overall leadership trend in this report is centered on two key features: professionalization and quality-focus. The report is highly demanding in terms of professional development of educational leaders and teachers as well. It also stressed on the specialization of leaders and teachers in their specific fields for to promote a culture of quality service. Moreover it promotes leadership at different levels through the process of decentralization and the institutions of the zone directorates. This report also introduces another perspective of leadership which is accountability to evaluate the coast-effectiveness of public investment. The government came with a system of National Inspectorate. Educational leadership took another dimension henceforth (Master Plan, 1991).

The Action Plan proves an evolution in the leadership trend from a more professional qualified leadership tendency into a greater distribution and devolution of leadership by the regional zoning. It consists of creating new leadership posts and to empower existing ones with more responsibilities, autonomy and room for action. It also takes into consideration the appropriate training and formation of leaders at different levels (Action Plan, 1998).

The leadership perspective of the 'Ending the Rat Race' report is that it further flattens the system thus promoting more leadership at same level by the introduction of form 6 schools. It also fosters a more professional leadership with high quality standards (Ending the rat race, 2001).

The Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan (2008-2020) report confirms a new perspective of instructional leadership. It is a manifesto of leadership at all level. Educational leaders are now considers as key role figures at all levels of the system. They have the responsibility of ensuring quality education and adopt change-orientated behaviors for their institution to grow continuously (EHRSP, 2009).



In Mauritius, the organizational structure of State Secondary and Private Secondary Schools are different.


At the top of the apex where decisions are taken, that is, at the ministry level, we have the minister, senior chief executive, permanent secretaries, chief technical officers, directors, assistant directors and administrators, principal assistant secretaries and assistant secretaries.


The secondary school sector is divided into four zone directorates each headed by a director who has to report with the Chief Technical Officer. The Zone director is assisted by assistant directors and administrators. The zone directorates are responsible for all issues pertaining to education and the smooth running of the schools in their respective zones. The system has been further decentralized into the establishment of various sections such as Human Resource Section, Finance Section, Stores and Procurement Section, Maintenance Unit and Educational Psychologists and Social Workers Unit (School Management manual, 2009).


The school community consists of rectors, deputy rectors, educators, administrative staff, ancillary, students and parents. The educators are divided into various departments according to the subjects they teach. Each department is headed by a head of department. The administrative staff consists of the Usher (or School Superintendent), Senior School Clerk, Word Processing Operator and Library Officer. The ancillary staff comprises of the caretakers, library and laboratory attendants, workshop assistants and others in the category of manual staff. The rector is the head. They must all provide support to the rector in the accomplishment of his duties (School Management manual, 2009).



The PSSA was set up under the PSSA Act of 1976. It was made responsible for promoting and encouraging education in secondary schools, setting up and operating with the Minister's approval schemes to provide aid, controlling the way in which and the aim for which financial assistance is being used of and making sure that the terms and conditions of service of staff, in secondary schools are fair and reasonable (PSSA Act, 1976). Since then the PSSA Act was amended several times. In the Amendment of 2000, the pedagogical inspection section has been handed to the Ministry of Education and Human resources (PSSA amendment act, 2000).

The director is the chief executive of the organization. The different sections include Administrative, Finance, Stores, Information Technology (IT) and Inspectorate (PSSA, 2004).


Every private secondary school has a manager who is appointed by the proprietor or board governing the school. The manager is the administrative head and is registered at the PSSA (Education Act 1957 and PSSA Act 1976) The Rector is the academic head of the school. He is helped by the deputy rector. The educators in a private secondary school can be classified into three namely the Head of Department, the Section Leader and the educator. The other posts include the non-teaching staff. It comprises of general attendants, school clerks, library officer, laboratory attendants and other manual staffs (PRB, 2008).


In Mauritius, many institutions are providing post-graduate courses in educational leadership and management. Apart from past experience, the government recommends other qualifications for an educator to be promoted to the post of either rector or deputy rector such as Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and Management or equivalent acceptable qualification with 10 years experience at Senior Technical or Management Level. As from 1st July 2013, Diploma in Management or Education Management will be a criterion for Deputy Rectors to be promoted as Rector. Accordingly, educators in secondary schools possessing a post graduate degree, diploma or certificate in any field related to education or educational leadership and management are given a further increment in their salary scale (PRB, 2008).

The Mauritius Institute of Mauritius MIE is carrying Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership PGDEL program for aspiring rectors. Diploma in Educational Management will soon be launched. A course for primary school inspectors under the title Diploma in Educational Supervision and Inspection DESI has been launched. Several workshops in leadership and management for educators have also been carried out by the MIE. The MIE also conduct MA Education program in collaboration with the University of Brighton, England. The course comprises of modules in Leadership and Management. By November 2012, an Ed D. a professional doctorate program will be run in collaboration with the same university (MIE, 2012).

The University of Technology Mauritius UTM is carrying two post graduate courses in educational leadership and management namely the MSc Educational Administration and Technology and MA Educational Leadership and Management under the School of Sustainable Development and Tourism (UTM, 2012).

The Middlesex University at London, England opened a branch campus in Vacoas, Mauritius in 2010. The Middlesex University Branch Campus Mauritius is offering a MA Education: (Leadership and Management) program under the School of Art (Middlesex 2011).

The University of Wolverhampton, England launched its Mauritius Branch Campus in 2012. It will be providing MA Education courses comprising of modules in educational leadership and management (Wolverhampton, 2012).

The Doha Academy of Tertiary Studies DATS, Mauritius had launched a Master in Education M.Ed program comprising of modules in educational leadership and management. The DATS is affiliated with the Riphah Islamic University RIU of Pakistan (DATS, 2012).


The Ministry of Education and Human Resources stressed on the necessity for head of schools to have training in school leadership and management and thus provide the leadership necessary to manage their schools effectively. The roles of head of schools were reviewed and continuous professional development was stressed (EHRSP, 2009).


The duties of the rector are very complex. In PSSA schools, they must be in line with the provisions of the Education Act, PSSA Act and other regulations in the forms of official circulars sent by the PSSA.

The rector is the academic head with some administrative duties assigned to him. Any rules laid down by the employer, that is the manager, should be abided to if they are not in contradiction with the Education Act and PSSA Act.

The professional duties of the rector can be summarized in the following:

Formulating and fulfilling the school aims and objectives.

Participating with the Manager in the appointment of staff.

Managing the staff which comprises of the following:

Effective use of all staff of the school and allocating particular duties to them.

Ensure the replacement of absent teachers and it should be done equitably.

Ensure that outdoor activities are duly supervised

Determining, organizing and implementing appropriate curriculum for the school - Student centered and making optimum use of resources available.

Managing the standard of teaching and learning which comprises of the following:

Evaluating the standards of teaching and learning in the school and ensuring that proper standards of performance are established and maintained and planning the assessment and evaluation procedures.

Participating in the teaching of pupils in the school (PRB, 2003)

Ensuring that the progress of the pupils is monitored and recorded.

Coordinating the activities of subject departments or committees and inter-departments

assisting the preparation of schemes of work, prescription of text-books and curriculum development

Managing staff training, development and appraisal which includes the following:

Supervising the teacher's work, making an appraisal of his performance, tendering advice to him and regular checking of records and reports of teaching staff.

Helping all staff to have access to advice and training appropriate to their needs (EHRSP, 2009)

Organizing systematic analysis of the performance of the school at SC and HSC examinations and initiating appropriate remedial action.

Dealing with administrative duties which include the following:

Providing information to the Manager and PSSA Officials about the work and performance of the staff.

Assisting the Manager in compiling observations and reports on the staff and making recommendations for yearly increments.

Assisting and advising the Manager on all questions of school policy, educational and recreational facilities, school organization and staffing, examinations, admission of pupils, promotion of pupils.

Assisting and advising the Manager on the organization of staff to be on roster duty.

Advising and helping the Manager in keeping past examination records, distributing examination certificates, issuing of transfer and leaving certificates and in filling SC and HSC examination entry sheets.

Liaising with staff responsible for school registers and ensuring that pupils' record and identity cards are kept and brought up-to-date.

Maintaining discipline which comprises of the following:

Determining, according to statement set by Manager, measures to be taken for promoting, among pupils, self-discipline and proper regard for authority, encouraging good behavior, ensuring that the standard of behavior is acceptable otherwise the conduct of the pupils should be regulated.

Ensuring the maintenance of good order and discipline at all times during the school day

Granting permission for pupils to leave early only after careful study of parents' requests.

Determining and ensuring that implementation of a policy for the pastoral care of the pupils.

Maintaining relationship with the following parties:

With parents - making provision for responsible parties to obtain information regularly concerning the school curriculum, the improvement and well-being of their children, and other matters of importance affecting the school.

With other bodies - promoting effective relationships between pupils and staff; with persons and bodies outside the school through dialogues and open communication.

With Manager - Advising and assisting the Manager or governing body of the school I the exercise of his or its functions.

With PSSA - Liaising with PSSA and working in collaboration with the Authority and officers and making such reports to the Authority in connection with the discharge of his functions.

Arranging for the Deputy Rector or other suitable person to assume his responsibilities and duties at any time when he may have to be absent from school.

Maintaining teaching load in accordance with PRB recommendations.

Carrying other duties relevant to the post as the Manager may require within the bounds of legislation (PSSA 2006; Education Act, 1957; Education (Amendment) Act, 2002)

The Rector is helped by both the section leaders and HoDs in performing his duties. This is an example of flattening of structures and distributed leadership in schools (PRB, 2008).


In Mauritius, teachers are termed as educators. Apart from the normal works of teachers like carrying assessments, preparing scheme and weekly plan of work, conduct examination and mark scripts, etc, teachers are assigned to assist the school management in attending to problems of discipline, parents' queries and qualms, ensuring the overall development of students and maintaining discipline in class and within school premises (PRB, 2008). These duties necessitate leadership qualities of the educators. Educators are accountable not only for the learning outcomes but also for the proper learning environment they are providing the child (EHRSP, 2009).


The post of Section Leader has been introduced in PSSA schools in Mauritius in the year 2010 after the PRB recommendations of 2008. According to PSSA regulations, the Section Leader should be chosen from among educators reckoning at least five years' service. It should be noted that Head of Department is not be eligible for the post. Section Leaders are given an allowance equivalent to one increment at the point reached in the salary scale. Section Leaders are expected to teach only 25 periods per week. One Section Leader is responsible for each form (PSSA, 2010).


The duties and responsibilities of Section Leaders are listed as follows:

To help the Rector into problems of indiscipline and misbehavior, regular absences, lateness and to ensure that students comply with school rules and regulations

To help the HoD in monitoring the performance of students.

To monitor conduct of students and recommend appropriate remedial measures to the Rector.

To liaise with parents/responsible parties with regard to performance and conduct of students.

To keep records of cases of indiscipline and follow-up action.

To assist the Rector in planning, organizing and coordinating co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

To give pastoral care and to take care of the general wellbeing of students.

To supervise the good functioning of the school assembly and other gatherings of students.

In relation to examinations to assist in the preparation and distribution of timetables and invigilation schedules

To perform such other duties associated to the main duties listed on top or connected to the delivery of the outcomes anticipated from Section Leader in the roles ascribed to him/her (PSSA, 2010).


The senior most educators in each department are appointed as the HoD (School Management Manual, 2009). The maximum teaching periods for HoDs is 25 per week. The HoDs obtained a monthly allowance for carrying their duties (PRB, 2008).


The duties and responsibilities of HoDs are listed as follows:

Provide leadership to the department and hold weekly departmental meeting. Agenda is to be circulated in the department and notes of meeting recorded and copied to Rectors.

Help the Rector/Deputy Rector in monitoring teaching/learning in their department by accompanying the Rector during class visits.

Advise members of their department - whenever the need arises, on how to improve their teaching methods.

Act as mentor to newly recruited Educator (Secondary) in his/her department.

Plan, implement, monitor and evaluate the syllabus.

Prescribe textbooks, reference books and other teaching aids in line with PSSA's circular.

Plan allocation of classes within the department.

Organize examination scheme (preparation of Question .Papers/Marking etc.) for

Internal Examination.

Ensure that all Educator (Sec) of every department:

Have a weekly scheme of work of each term, including a revision scheme for the third term;

Prepare weekly plan of work;

Prepare lesson plans;

Prepare lesson notes;

Record achievement of students in assessment, plan and analyze results and submit report with recommendation and strategies for improvement; and

Ensure that homework is set as per approved standards and exercise books marked.

(i) Be in charge, where applicable, of all equipment and materials is Science Laboratories, Workshops,. PE Gymnasium, any other Specialist Room, etc., draw up indents and keep ledgers up to date.

(ii) Be responsible for the general upkeep of their department.

11. Train newly recruited/inexperienced Laboratory Attendants and Workshop

Assistants and Computer Laboratory Attendants, where applicable.

12. Collaborate in organizing and running in-service courses for members of the department.

13. Encourage and organize the participation of students in co-curricular and extra

curricular activities.

14. Discuss problems encountered by staff in their department and suggest remedial actions to Rector/Deputy Rector/Manager.

15. Assist the Rector/Deputy Rector/Manager in preparing the school budget with

particular relevance to their department.

16. Provide inputs for the formulation of School Development Plan.

17. Submit a monthly report on activities carried out in the department to the Rector.

18. Submit yearly plans for the improvement of the performance of the department.

19. Perform other duties closely linked to the key duties listed on top or associated to the delivery of the outcomes expected from the part of incumbents in the functions assigned to them (PSSA, 2010).


Leadership is the new trend in education worldwide. It is crucial for all transformation and innovation (Spillane et al., 2004). The empowering school managers and leaders in both administrative and academic leadership is an integral part of the government vision (EHRSP, 2009). Among educators, posts such as that of HoD, Section Leader and Senior Educator have been created for a better distributed leadership in our schools (PRB, 2008).