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What is Education Management? Essay

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Updated: Jan 11th, 2020


Due to the confusion that exists between leadership and education management, most school managers/leaders cannot seem to define what education management is and this has made it extremely difficult to eradicate the confusion existing between the three concepts. This necessitates that school managers understand what entails education management.

This paper therefore explores the most fundamental components of educational management; components that help determine what educational management is via scrutinizing how education management has transformed over the years and discussing the impact of education management in schools. This will basically pave way for having an in-depth understanding of educational management and eradicate confusion that exists between different concepts related to education management.


The major purpose of education is developing students’ capacities and potential. As a field of practice, Bush & Glover (2002) indicate that education management focuses on how education managers coordinate the institutions’ activities (operations) in attempt to ensure that there is effectiveness and efficiency in meeting the goals set (capacity development).

Education management overlaps with administration and leadership concepts. Additionally, Bush (2003) notes that the term ‘management’ is commonly used in Britain and Europe while in Canada and United States, the term ‘administration’ is preferred. This has led to competing education management definitions and understanding.

As a result, most school leaders have difficulty balancing between school operations (management), leadership, staff and student performance improvement and administration or lower-order duties.Therefore, this paper seeks to conceptualize education management or rather find out what education management is and it impacts in schools. This will help school leaders understand the context of education management and avoid confusion that exists between administration, management and leadership.


Basically, managers are involved in leading, organising, planning and controlling educational institutions. This explains why education management overlaps with leadership; education managers must incorporate managerial leadership.

As Sharma (2009) notes, in managerial leadership, the focus is on tasks, functions, and building rational behavior within the organisation. This shows that managerial leadership assists in managing the activities that exist successfully, hence showing the inseparability of leadership and education management. Unfortunately, the managerial leadership model present in educational management is normative, outline how persons in schools ought to behave and define leadership by how effective organisations are.

These formal education managerial leadership models have major weaknesses; focus on the entire institution and underestimate individual contributions, exhibit a decision-making process with difficulties (managers cannot substantiate the choices made) and power is concentrated at the apex (principals have all the power, top-down or one way leadership). Automatically, this hinders the managerial efforts and explains the confusion existing between leadership and education management.

As Ciulla (2008) notes, the confusion can only be eradicated by conceptualizing education management, determining what educational management is and how it has impacted schools. This will help leaders operate within the educational management concepts and eradicate confusion.


Sharma (2009) notes that during and before the 1800s, management of education was unskilled, managed by the same people who governed communities. For instance in United States, the school system was under a district Agent who oversaw all managerial and administrative tasks.

During that time, critics argued that education was overly bookish and could not cater for varied talents. This is because education fell short of the expected quality; there were no trained teachers and no standard methods for storing information. This gave rise to the need for practical managerial skills.

At first, preachers and local businessmen took over schools and used unsophisticated skills to run them but in the 1900s, schools became more bureaucratic thus requiring unavailable administrative skills.

It became clear that training in educational management was needed and education management first evolved as an educational topic in Columbia University, United States. The focus was on educational controls such as functions of different individuals in schools among others but with time, management principles in commerce and industry were adapted by the management education system.

This marked the evolution of educational management theory giving rise to conceptual frameworks and theoretical knowledge needed for managing schools. The 21st century has now seen practitioners and theorist develop managerial models that meet specific needs of educational institutions and educational management is now a conventional field governed by its own research and theories (Wankel, 2002).

Example, Case Study

The impact of educational management can be well elaborated by a research conducted by Poster (1988) in Center for Study of Comprehensive Schools.

Most school managers attested that education management has been fundamental in managing staff, technological changes, conflicting viewpoints existing between teachers and students, available resources and changes in market (education quality and standards). Additionally, most attested that educational management concepts enabled them plan, control and organise school operations.

As a result, most managers acknowledged that their schools had made major improvements towards ensuring that students had a firm basis in life (had endowed facilities, well trained teachers and offered wider education curriculums). This clearly indicates that education management has basically managed to turn-around schools; ensure that school operations are well aligned to address the needs of the school at large.


Basically, what we can learn is that educational management has changed the facet of schools from unproductive disorganised schools (poor quality of education and improper information storage) to productive organised schools (staff management and talent management).

As we can see, this is because education management has enabled school managers to plan, control, lead and organise school operations for the purpose of ensuring that students’ potential and capacities are developed. This is because educational management functions form the basis of all schools operations executed by school managers. We can therefore say that the fundamental managerial components (planning, controlling organising and leading) form the basis of what education management is.


When it comes to educational management, Wankel (2002) indicates that school managers are multifunctional and thus need to maintain total quality management, come up with staff performance appraisal schemes, tackle job satisfaction, occupational stress and coping actions, and also manage time effectively.

This necessitates proper planning (defining goals and coming up with development plans/strategies for achieving them) of school’s operations, a clear indication as to why planning is outlined as a major managerial component in the sample case.

When it comes to capacity development, managers are expected to adapt a skill developmental approach where training is undertaken at a personal and team level, technical assistance is offered to students undertaking projects and the school networks with research institutions and other educational institutions. For these reasons, school managers are expected to lead; motivate subordinates/ teams/individuals as they work and organise or distribute tasks for effective capacity building.

Additionally, capacity development is a long-term process that requires evaluation and monitoring. This requires proper controlling or monitoring of performances, comparing performance to the expected standards and coming up with corrective measures.

Cumulatively, we can now say that education management is planning, controlling, organising and leading in school operations with the purpose of capacity building and addressing the needs of the school at large. As we can see from the case study sample, the progress made in schools (capacity building and addressing the school needs effectively) can all be attributed to proper planning, organising, leading and controlling of the school operations.


Bush, T. (2003). Theories of educational management: Third edition. London, LDN: Sage.

Bush, T., & Glover, D. (2002). School leadership: Concepts and evidence. Nottingham: National College for School Leadership.

Ciulla, J. B. (2008). Leadership studies and “the fusion of horizons”. The Leadership Quarterly 19 (4), 393-395.

Poster, C, D. (1988). Partnership in education management. London, LND: Routledge.

Sharma, S. L. (2009). Educational management: A unified approach of education. New Delhi, ND: Global India Publications.

Wankel, C. (2002). Rethinking management education for the 21st century. North Carolina, NC: IAP.

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