Study on governance and management policies in school education systems

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A new study from the European Commission analyses how quality assurance, school management, admission and other management policies and practices impact the quality, inclusiveness and efficiency of school education.

The study began in the current context of less central government control and more school autonomy for decision-making. It started from existing knowledge across Europe and beyond and gathered new evidence on the impact of different governance and management policies and practices.

Figure 1: Governance and management policies and practices in school education systems

The study concludes that when changing governance and management policies and practices, policy-makers need to take into account existing evidence on their effectiveness, especially that:

  • The presence of various elements of quality assurance and higher levels of accountability in education systems has a positive impact on quality;
  • Greater autonomy over staff management and curriculum is associated with better quality, in particular when accompanied by accountability measures and higher levels of educational leadership.
  • The effective use of additional funding for schools with higher numbers of disadvantaged pupils depends on how these resources are used, which in turn depends on schools’ level of autonomy in combination with appropriate quality assurance policies.
  • Continuing professional development of school leaders, teachers and other staff has a positive impact on quality if it 1) is needs-based, 2) is collaborative, 3) links practice with theory, 4) is supported by external expertise, and 5) is sustained over time.

Policy-makers should also bear in mind key factors which underpin effective changes to governance and management policies and practices, above all by ensuring that:

  • Governance arrangements are unambiguous, with clear lines of delegation and accountability.
  • Reforms of governance and management policies and practices are supported with professional development activities for school and government staff.
  • Stakeholders affected by the reforms are involved in the design and implementation as early as possible.
  • There is room for sufficient flexibility in the implementation in order to tailor reforms to local contexts and needs.

Furthermore, policy-makers should invest in a systematic monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of the reforms they initiate, including specifically their impact on various groups of disadvantaged pupils.

You can read more about the study here.