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The research paper is a critical examination of the concept of school-based management. It is no doubt that public schools have in the recent past rethought and redesigned the manner with which they opt to operate effectively and efficiently via the process of restructuring or systematic reforms (Fiske, 1995).
To show that the matter is a serious issue, various countries across the globe have initiated such approaches in order to uplift national education. An example of such is Indonesia, where the central government came up with a commission of national education that was back in 2001; this decentralized education.
This was realized by formation of school councils which were later realized to bring democratic leadership translating to higher level of parent participation in issues relating to governing the schools as well as improved national education level (Bryk et al., 1998).
In the wake of 21st century, it is worth noting that all Indonesia public schools had adopted school-based management. It is thus very important to emphasise the importance of balancing between centralization and decentralization of policies regarding school-based management.
In the strictest terms, school-based management has been thought of as the mechanisms used to decentralize decision making authority to the school site which is a popular approach that gains momentum in early 1980s thanks to school reform movements (Weiss, 1992). As noted, majority of schools have make efforts in trying to implement this approach in managing budgets, curriculum among other issues in schools.
The various advantages of the approach brought forth by proponents include the following; learners will be offered best programs since resources are wisely allocated; better decisions are arrived at since it is made by a group and not individuals and it also results to enhance communication between and among the relevant stakeholders.
To address the issue of SBM the paper will develop systematically and defend with sound reasons and arguments a version of SBM together with its associated accountability mechanisms that would be appropriate for a school in the United Kingdom.
Additionally, the successes associated with SBM are also of importance. The challenges that will be faced in trying to implement the proposed approach will be tackled. Lastly an explanation of how best SBM can be used to promote improvements in students learning outcomes will be covered.
A version of School-Based Management
As noted previously, SBM main objective and aim is to bring about positive change. It is worth noting from the onset that SBM seeks to transfer a number of responsibility and decision making with regards to operation of schools not only to teacher and principals but also to parents, students, and business people among other stakeholders.
Nonetheless, such decentralization of authority needs to be in line with policies that are centrally determined. It is no doubt that there are a number of SBM programs that can be employed in a public school. The differences usually arise both in terms of the one bestowed with the power and responsibility in coming up with decisions as well as to what degree of coming up with decisions have been devolved o schools and its constituents (Katyal & Evers, 2007).
Among the version in place include the following; the one in which the principals or teachers are bestowed with the power to execute the authority. With this version, the principal has the ultimate authority, but the council only advise him. The second approach which I will further discuss is where the parents, students as well as community participates.
Generally speaking the program does delegate duties in such areas as coming up with school budgets, infrastructural improvements, hiring and firing of teachers, developing school curriculum, issues relating to textbooks, coming up with the school calendar aimed at meeting the needs and aspirations of the community, monitoring as well as evaluating performance of teachers to mention but a few. According to Oswald, 1995: Par. 2
[In an SBM system, authority can transfer from the state government to school boards, from school boards to superintendents, from superintendents to principals, from principals to other members of the school community such as teachers and parents, or some combination of two or more of these].
In any organization a chain of command is deemed important for a number of reasons. One of them being that individuals or groups will clearly know who to report to and secondly it enhances holding such groups or individuals accountable for their actions. It has been shown that for SBM to be adopted in a successful manner, there is need to incorporate all the relevant authorities actively.
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This only happens where the principal adopts an approach to making a decision that is team-oriented. With such a system in place all relevant stakeholders such as teachers, parents, the community and students will feel part of the team hence develop a positive attitude towards the schools’ activities. Additionally, a sense of ownership is built when decisions are arrived at from a team format (Leithwood & Menzies, 1998).
Having in mind that the local communities understands their problems better the version of SBM rests on the fact that communities should be taking an active role in the efforts aimed at bettering services related to education that majorly include ho to plan, monitor as well as evaluate programs that are educational via the school councils (Murphy & Beck, 1995).
A school council has been thought as an independent body that is formed to offer advice, “directions and support for personnel, facilities, and equipment as well as monitoring of schools”. With such a council in place there are certain roles they will play which include; being an advisor and help schools determine as well as approve educational policies, being an agency in supporting schools when it comes to issues of finances, being a controlling body with the ultimate goal of bringing transparency and accountability and lastly being a mediator between the school and other external bodies such as governments among others.
For my version, the council should be independent and opt to not have any hierarchal link with the government. It formation should be open, accountable as well as being democratic. To form a council, a school needs to form a committee comprising of members from the following divides; education practitioners; principal, representatives of the teachers, parents, religious as well as community representatives (Oswald, 1995).
The later opt to be made up of non-governmental organizations, local authority, religious leader’s business people and a person deemed to be of a public figure. The responsibility of the committee is to set everything right for election of council members. It is worth noting that the number to be included in the council varies with the size of the school.
Ideally, the provision calls for selection of at least 9 members. Having representatives from principal, community, teachers, local government and school foundation is key. Among the major reasons why I think this version is best rests on its ability to ensure that all relevant stakeholders are incorporated in their decision making processes.
The advantage with this is that it brings a sense of ownership hence making the relevant stakeholders feel part of the team and will support the decisions arrived at (Murphy & Beck, 1995). Additionally having the approach not being related to the central governments helps in ensuring that the decision arrived at as well as ideas brought forth by the relevant stakeholders are solemnly based and identified from its natural settings (Weiss, 1992).
It is no doubt that this results in coming up with solutions tailored in curbing local problems. Similarly, there are chances of the principal making sound decisions as he is provided with an opportunity to learn more and improves his/her leadership styles.
To exemplify this, when firing a teacher, all the relevant stakeholders through the council will adequately analyze the issue at hand before coming to a conclusion. This plays a major role in ensuring that good teachers are not fired just because they differ in ideologies with their bosses (Oswald, 1995).
It has also been argued that such an approach of SBM brings with it an effective way of communication. Having in mind that information is power, each an every party will not be left in the dark when important decisions are arrived at. Through the committee, teachers, parents, students, the principal and the community representatives will be adequately informed of what will be happening in the near future.
With such an approach, their views are highly welcomed to help arrive at the final decision (Murphy & Beck, 1995). Additionally, the chosen approach ensures that individuals take responsibility. Where thing will go wrong, there is a group of individuals who can be easily held accountable. For instance, if teachers or parents have not played their roles adequately, then there is room to call them and hold them accountable for what they have done or failed to do.
As held by Leithwood & Menzies, 1998 it is no doubt that having SBM program without its associated transparency and accountability mechanisms is nothings. There is need to provide a mechanism within the program that will ensure all stakeholders actively take part in forming policies as well as effectively evaluate the school.
This goes an extra mile in enhancing transparency and accountability. Despite the fact that the program provides schools with autonomy, there is need to hold higher level of accountability either internally or externally.
Weiss, 1992 identified that for the internal accountability mechanisms, there is need to have in place efficient and effective control mechanisms that will prevent financial malpractices that are self-centered which might ultimately harm the school. Having in place such mechanisms will ensure that there is proper use of financial resources in line with the existing relevant laws and guidelines.
Issues related to corruptions and kickbacks need to be adequately addressed. Consequently, the school opts to examine analyze their plans more frequently in order to establish whether it is running its activities in accordance with the real demands and the direction of school development.
With this being accomplished, there is need to make necessary alterations when called for. Having in place mechanisms to ensure a systematic as well as a regular system of evaluating itself, there are higher chances of the school being able to analyze how effective it is in offering quality services. This brings with it the advantage of self-evaluating translating to improvements and a development that is continuous (Katyal & Evers, 2007).
Another mechanism for accountability and transparency is for the school to correctly utilize school report as well as functions in order to adequately make the various stakeholders aware of progress of the school and how the student is fairing on. Lastly, when a teamwork approach is used to arrive at any decision, this provides a system in which transparency is enhanced as well as providing internal checks and balances (Weiss, 1992).
It is not enough to have in place internal accountability mechanisms; this thus calls for an external one. The committee, as well as the council, needs to ensure that the program (SBM) is executed in a manner that is in line with relevant laws and regulations of the land. This will help in ensuring that the school is not in trouble with the government as well as local authority.
In situations where the school receives grants as well as subsidies from the government, it opts to comply with the Code of Aid as well as all other terms associated with the same. On the same note, the plans to develop the school need to be in line with the requirements and provision in the government policies relating to education (Leung, 2005).
According to Leung, 2005 there is need to have in place a yearly school account audit done by an external registered certified public accountant the same should be submitted to Education Management Board. This will ensure that whatever the school will be doing in terms of using the financial resources, they will be careful not to mess things up since there is someone who will cross check the same; ultimately resulting to transparency and accountability.
Responsibilities of the stakeholders
As already established, there are various stakeholders who actively participate in ensuring that SBM is realized. Despite the fact that there is a myriad of responsibilities from the various stakeholders, there are some general ones which will be addressed herein.
For instance, the council is bestowed with the responsibility of formulating and approving school policies as well as mission and vision, annual school programs as well as budget, designing strategic plan aimed at developing the school, determining the desired standards for learning, developing mechanisms to offer incentives to the principal and the teaching staff, creating an environment that is characterized with transparency, accountability as well as democracy aimed at improving quality of education in the school and encouraging increased participation of the various stakeholders in forming, implementing, monitoring as well as evaluating policies for the school (Yukl, 2006).
Similarly, the council helps in fundraising aimed at providing the school with financial resources, identifying as well as solving emerging problems, forming partnerships as well as networks between the school and other external organizations aimed at improving education, responding to local as well as national requirements in the curriculum and lastly mobilizing both financial as well as non financial resources for the betterment of the school (Leung, 2005).
The principal who is seen as the school manager is bestowed with responsibilities broadly categorized as policy-making and management. The later involves such actions as determining promotion as well as dismissal of teacher but with conjunction with the council, manage school’s resources, create an environment in which both students as well as teachers will thrive (Katyal & Evers, 2007).
Additionally, the principal is responsible for ensuring that effective communication is enhances between and among the various stakeholders. On the same note, the principal opts to be accountable to the stakeholdersincluding students, parents, teachers and the local community.
Concerning teachers, they are responsible for ensuring that students are offered with quality education as well as monitoring and evaluating their performances. On top of this teacher are influential in making decisions as they take part in “planning, developing, monitoring, and improving instructional programs within the school” (Yukl, 2006: 45)
Parents role and influence varies and includes contributing in decision making, encouraging their children, support implementation of proposed policies, holding the manager as well as teachers accountable to mention but a few.
Benefits of SBM
There are several benefits associated with adopting SBM. One major one is that it enhances parental involvement. It has been shown that parent involvement to issues relating to their children helps them achieve more. In situations where parents actively monitor the progress of their student, they will be able to know their areas of weakness and try to help them.
Additionally, when parents are involved, they create a learning environment back at home. This has been seen when they help their children do homework and encourage a culture of learning (Yukl, 2006). Similarly, parents do encourage their children by making them know they are unique and are capable of achieving academic excellence.
In terms of social behavior, parent involvement help in shaping the manner of student and will try to avoid being in trouble. Lastly and more importantly, student whose parent is actively involved in their learning develops positive attitude hence have lower chances of dropping out of schools.
Other benefits include an increase in quality as well as quantity of information sharing largely characterized by face to face communication. Having adequate information, the relevant stakeholders will definitely make rational decision since they are not left in the dark in issues relating to school development (Leung, 2005).
Additionally, SBM seeks to bring both financial and instructional resources to be aligned with school’s goals, mission and objectives. This ultimately results to having in place programs aimed at providing students with better services (Weiss, 1992).
In situations where is a delegation of duties and responsibilities, there are higher chances of the program nurturing new leaders across the various stages. This ensures that the organizations will have internally nurtured leaders who can rise to the occasion whenever called upon to take some responsibilities.
On the same note, it is evident that the mechanisms for accountability and transparency will ensure that all relevant stakeholders work hard in ensuring that their activities are within existing laws, regulations and guidelines. As suggested by Katyal & Evers, 2007 SBM provide teachers, the community as well as the staff a higher chance of actively being involved when the school makes vital decisions.
Such an initiative brings several advantages, such as feelings of ownership and responsibility among others. Similarly, the approach ensures that it utilizes the expertise as well as competence of individuals who are working in the school to come up with decisions that will improve learning outcomes. This mainly rests on the ability of coming up with local solutions to local problems.
According to Morrison, 2002 it is also important to point out that the decisions arrived at by the various stakeholders have been associated with increased students tests scores, decreased rates of dropouts as well as lower levels of suspensions and expulsion. According to Bryk et al. 1998: 128;
[In schools making systemic changes, structures are established which create opportunities for such interactions to occur. As teachers develop a broader say in school decision making, they may also begin to experiment with new roles, including working collaboratively.
This restructuring of teachers’ work signifies a broadening professional community where teachers feel more comfortable exchanging ideas, and where a collective sense of responsibility for student development is likely to emerge. These characteristics of systemic restructuring contrast with conventional school practice where teachers work more autonomously and there may be little meaningful professional exchange among co-workers. ]
Challenges facing implementation of SBM
Just like any other program, SBM anticipates various challenges although in varying degrees. A major challenge is that of the stakeholders encountering more work characterized by confusion with regards to new responsibilities and tasks, problems in having an effective manner of coordination as well as performance of the school in a manner that is not even.
Similarly, according to (Fiske, 1995: 212) SBM is a “complex undertaking, raising multiple policy issues involving lines of authority for making decisions and responsibility and accountability for the consequences of such decisions,” This can be attested by problems associated with accountability where the school may want to exercise full authority over decision but the council will be held accountable.
Additionally, lack of adequate knowledge and skills from some stakeholders might jeopardize the efforts of successfully implementing SBM. Such problems can be seen in communication and information sharing, lack of skills in decision making as well as trust issues among and between the involved parties (Yukl, 2006).
On the same line of reasoning, there are instances where the teachers, as well as the school manager or the principal, might be reluctant to provide other parties the opportunity to engage in collective decision making actively. It has also been shown that poor leadership can be another serious barrier to successful implementation of SBM program. It is worth noting that effective leadership is key in whatever field of study.
When the one at the realm of the organization fails to demonstrate qualities such as team work, 360 communication frameworks, creating a democratic environment, being an effective communicator, acting assertively among other, then the chances of bringing everyone on board to consult and reach a consensus might not be realized (Bryk et al., 1998).
SBM in promoting improvements in students
To ensure that SBM is used to improve students learning, it is important for the stakeholders to be fully aware of what SBM is; what it can do as well as what it cannot do. This will help them tailor the policies towards achievable initiatives geared towards encouraging effective learning.
However, it has been established that despite the fact that all relevant steps aimed at fostering improvement in students learning, they all depend on effective leadership. This concept ensures that all the relevant steps, such as creating an environment that supports teaching and learning is created (Leithwood & Menzies, 1998).
This will also go an extra mile in making parents encourage to get involved hence resulting to supporting their children as well as school initiatives aimed at fostering students learning. Additionally, effective leadership ensures that there is effective communication characterized by 360 feedback mechanisms.
With this, the teachers will make the test scores of students as well as the reasons behind the performances and recommendations to improve on them (Yukl, 2006). Having in place an inclusive approach, then all the relevant stakeholders will actively engage in activities that will help resolve the problem.
On the same note, effective leaders will strive in creating cordial and interactive links with the students, teachers as well as other non-teaching staffs. With this, the major problems hindering education achievement can be pinpointed and as a result of collaboration of the various stakeholder’s viable solutions can be developed (Morrison, 2002).
From the review of School-Based Management, it is evident that the concept despite of coming to limelight in 1980s, it has been adopted by majority of schools. It aims at decentralizing authority and improves school performance. The version of SBM proposed is where the decisions are arrived via consultation and consensus between the council and the principal.
Among the argument in support of this approach include ownership of decision, developing sound and rational decision, stakeholders feel involved hence offer their best among others. The mechanisms of enhancing accountability and transparency include external annual auditing and have in place efficient and effective control mechanisms that will prevent financial malpractices that are self-centered which might ultimately harm the school among others.
The paper has also tackled the various responsibilities of the relevant stakeholders. Similarly, the benefits of SBM have been addressed. The challenges hindering successful implementation of the program have also been addressed. Lastly having effective leadership and all relevant stakeholders being aware of what SBM is are necessary in ensuring that SBM can be used to improve and promote student learning.
Bryk, T. et al. (1998). Charting Chicago School Reform. Boulder, CO, Westview Press.
Fiske, E. (1995). “Systematic school reform: Implications for architecture” In A. Meek (Ed.) Designing places for learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Katyal, K. & Evers, C. (2007). “Parents – partners or clients? A re-conceptualization of home-school interactions”, Teaching Education, 18(1): 61-76.
Leithwood, K. & Menzies, T. (1998). “Forms and effects of school-based management: A review” Educational Policy, 12: (3) 325-346.
Leung, C. (2005). “Accountability versus school development: self-evaluation in an international school in Hong Kong”, International Studies in Educational Administration, 33(1): 2-14.
Morrison, K. (2002). School Leadership and Complexity Theory. London: Routledge/Falmer.
Murphy, J. & Beck L. (1995). School-based Management as School Reform. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Oswald, L. (1995). ‘School Based Management” College of Education · University of Oregon. Web.
Weiss, C. (1992). “Shared decision making about what? A comparison of schools with and without teacher participation” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco.
Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in Organizations. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.