Introducing School Reforms

The school has proudly published its mission: “The Shafallah is a Center of Excellence that provides comprehensive services and care to individuals with developmental learning challenges, their families, and the community. We nurture the acquisition and application of unique skills and talents through the commitment of a dedicated team of professionals. ” (Shafallah 2007) The school has apparently missed to declare a vision that is jointly prepared by every sector of the school community, from the beneficiaries, the employees, the teachers, the ManCom and the school board.

“Shared beliefs, clear vision, effective processes of professional learning, external support systems, restructured work environment (including variables such as time, space and technologies) and an emphasis on pedagogical principles”. (Newman & Welhage 1995; Caldwell 1998 as cited in Crowther 2003) Thus the term “shared vision” and “shared pedagogy”, the responsibilities and the benefits are shared by all those who have a stake in the school.

Though researches are not clearly proving direct relationship between effective leadership and school’s quality of services or the school-wide learning and as critics like Hargreaves 1994 as cited in Crowther 2000) noted, “there have been little substantive reform at all, with schools today looking as much as they did a century ago. ” Leadership in itself is not a stand alone to solve the serious problems the school is facing.

But series of researches were optimistic that indeed, the success stories on innovations and strategies implemented by schools were evidences that it is the schools’ innovations through strong leadership that caused the marked improvements the quality of teaching particularly in the achievements of the students; “leadership in schools do in fact make a difference” (Stringfield and Herman 1996 as cited in Crowther 2000) Evidences on leadership and management problems surfaced from the complaints of the community and the investigations conducted by the adhoc committee.

The root causes were traced on the relationship of the leaders: the ManCom as the strategic leaders and the teachers as the pedagogical leaders. Holistic Approach to Reforms The school, not just the management, cannot just ignore the challenges they face today, consequences of problems that have been ignored for years. The school will have to implement major reforms that will significantly if not totally put a stop to this humiliating trend. The school’s actions will have to be holistic, well planned and fully supported by each and every member of the community.

Holistic in the sense, it has to encompass not only educational but also cultural and social aspects of the schools existence. Case studies of three schools mentioned by Newman and Welhage proved holistic approaches were really important. The absence of some aspects may affect the expected success of the innovations introduced. Like in West Town Secondary School where the culture aspect of the reforms were not well developed and made significant effect on the over-all results of the program.

(Newman & Welhage 1995; Caldwell 1998 as cited in Crowther 2003). For Shafallah, it is also important to consider the involvement of all that has a stake in the success of the school, not just the ManCom and the teachers, but more importantly the students, their parents and the community that the school serves. Parallel Leadership Literature review on various researches on institutional reforms asserted that the effectiveness of educational leadership leads to successful school innovations.

There are different approaches that may be utilized depending on the strategy and applicability to the schools. Transformational leadership that emphasized on the importance of the leader and his/her personality traits, strategic leadership focuses on the roles and the external forces, educative leadership centered on positional authority in the educative context. Some schools use the servant leadership concept (Greenleaf, 1997 as cited in Crowther 2000) More inclined on the industry and management aspect of the school reforms is the balance scorecard system.

Dorothy Andrews and Marian Lewis made thorough discussions on successful reforms in a number of Australian schools that implemented Innovative Designs for Enhancing Achievement in Schools (IDEAS). (Vol 7. 2004) Parallel Leadership is one of these popular concepts that a number of sources were convinced to be effective strategy for successful school reforms. Crowther et. al. defined parallel leadership as a strategy which “engages teacher leaders and administrator leaders in collaborative action, while at the same time encouraging fulfillment of their individual capabilities, aspirations and responsibilities.