Staff participation in decision making in schools for specific purposes in 1994 with regard to the 'Schools Renewal' strategy implemented in New South Wales

  • Ruth Winfield

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    The purpose of this research was to consider the participation of staff in decision making in schools for specific purposes in a rural area of New South Wales. The data was collected in 1994 and was considered in light of the recommendations made by the Schools Renewal Strategy (1990). This strategy contained a number of decentralist changes for the Department of School Education and was led by the Schools Renewal Task Force chaired by Brian Scott.

    The two research tools: a survey and structured interview used in this study were developed with four main areas as their focus. Firstly, participants identified who made and contributed to specific decision items. These decision items were divided into the five following decision areas:• decisions concerned with policy and curriculum;
    • decisions concerned with professional development;
    • decisions concerned with students;
    • decisions concerned with community issues and
    • decisions concerned with resources.

    Secondly, the participants recommended who they thought should make and contribute to the same decision items.

    The third area considered the decisional state of the participants using the data from the first two areas. For each decision item, it was noted whether participants wanted to be less involved in decision making, were satisfied with their current role or wanted more involvement. The decision areas were compared to establish if the decisional state was affected by the type of decision that had to be made.

    Lastly, a number of variables were considered to determine the impact they had on decision making processes. These variables were: 1) role of the participants; 2) size of the school; 3) gender of the participants and 4) culture of the school.

    Interview schedules for each group of participants were developed after a pilot run of the survey to supplement the information.

    The data were collected from sixty principals, teachers, teacher aides, clerical assistants and parents at five schools for specific purposes. All staff members were asked to complete a survey and two parents were selected from each school. In addition to this, eighteen respondents were selected in a random stratified sample to participate in face to face or telephone interviews. The larger schools had between eighteen and twenty participants. The smaller schools had between six and twelve participants. The data from the surveys were analysed into tables based on individual schools and participant groups. The interviews were transcribed and analysed for patterns within schools and participant groups. The two types of data collection were then compared for similarities and differences.

    The main findings of this study were:• All of the respondents wanted to be more involved in decision making processes.
    • The larger schools had more opportunity to make decisions at the school level than the smaller schools. The smaller schools tended to rely on Department of School Education officers to assist them in making decisions particulary in decisions concerned with policy and curriculum, professional development and students. The respondents at the larger schools experienced greater satisfaction in decision making than their colleagues in smaller schools.
    • The role of the participants affected their involvement in decision making processes.
    • Principals made the majority of the decisions in four out of five of the schools. They also indicated that they wanted to decrease their level of involvement in some decisions.
    • Teachers wanted to make and contribute to more decisions. They particularly wanted more involvement in decisions concerned with policy and curriculum and professional development.
    • Teacher aides did not make any decisions but wanted to contribute more to decisions. They indicated they wanted more involvement in decisions concerned with policy and curriculum and professional development.
    • Clerical assistants made very few decisions in the schools but were generally satisfied with this role. They wanted more involvement in decisions concerned with professional development and resources.
    • Parents made very few decisions in schools. They wanted to have more involvement in all decisions, especially those related to community issues.
    • The male respondents made more decisions than the female group. However, this is linked to the role of the participants, in that the male group dominated the executive positions in this sample.
    • Each school had a decision making style that was unique. The larger schools were found to use more of a collaborative management style than the smaller schools. Within each of the two groups of school size, differences in managerial style could clearly be identified. However, some common features of frustration could be identified across the schools in relation to centralised system processes that affected all of the schools.
    Date of AwardMay 1999
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJim Cameron (Supervisor) & Darol Cavanagh (Supervisor)

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