This week I presented a paper on Regional secondary school consolidation as part of the inaugural Australian Showcase at the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) annual conference. The presentation draws on a series of ongoing projects looking at secondary school consolidation (where two schools are consolidated into a single school) in regional and rural areas in Australia.
Throughout Australia, governments and school systems are currently engaging in substantial activity designed to improve equity, access, and achievement in rural, regional, and remote education. While much of this activity involves attracting and retaining teachers and leaders, personal and professional challenges, and educational opportunity, relatively little attention has been paid to school reform initiatives in leadership and governance. With a focus on recent policy moves to consolidate regional secondary schools, in this session I bring three matters into conversation: i) the evidence base of school consolidation; ii) the equity and excellence disparity between regional / rural and metropolitan schools; and iii) the experiences of school staff undergoing a consolidation process. In doing so I highlight the problems and possibilities of bringing two schools together for the purpose of improving the equity and excellence outcomes for students. In addition, I introduce an emerging framework created to assist school teams in working through significant reforms.
Building on a systematic literature search, a scoping study, and ongoing empirical work, in the paper I argue for the importance of clarity of purpose, coherence in activities, and generating a narrative for school reforms. To assist school leadership teams in working through this process I have been developing a School Leadership Reflection Guide. This is a means of generating real world impact for the relational research program in schools.
This is all work in progress and I am grateful for those participating in the research and for the feedback and comments at #ACELNC18 yesterday.
If you have any questions, feel free to get in contact.