The Management of Learning, Schools and Systems


Download article (.pdf) | By Donald Hirsch | Published in Networks of Innovation, OECD/CERI, 2003


Hirsch’s article reports on the Hungary/OECD seminar, “Managing Education for Lifelong Learning,” which took place 6-7 December 2001 in Budapest concerning management and governance in education. The conference discussion built on the OECD/CERI 2000 “What Works” study on innovation in school management in nine countries. The Budapest conference, reports Hirsch, emphasised the centrality of management issues to the future of schooling.


The seminar’s first session emphasised the centrality of management issues to the future of schooling at the “micro” level of the classroom and other learning environments. This session concluded that good management and leadership do make a clear difference to learning outcomes. Managers need to operate cleverly within a complex set of relationships rather than seek simplistic solutions. School managers at every level need to deal with the complexity resulting from the multiple stakeholders and processes.


Secondly, the Budapest conference emphasised the centrality of management issues to the future of schooling at the organisational (or “meso”) level of school management. Innovations in Hungary are cited, as are examples of how Belgium’s Flemish community and the UK have recruited private companies’ help in improving schools.


The final session in Budapest discussed the “macro” issues of educational governance and public reform: decentralisation and its implication, and the main currents of public management reform relating to education. The “macro” level, also known as the “system” level, of public management cannot easily be distinguished from the “organisational” level, especially in decentralised systems. In this last session, the focus on governance was understood not just in terms of the guidance given by governing bodies but also of how stakeholders’ views help govern schools.


Hirsch states that the three levels (the “micro”, “meso”, and “macro”) interact considerably. He concludes from the conference that improvement in how students learn is always shaped by the ways in which schools themselves develop as learning organisations. Schools are complex entities to manage, but there is still room for adapting models developed in other sectors, both public and private.


Read the entire article in Networks of Innovation (.pdf)


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