A school-based management program is an educational approach that most countries are embracing worldwide. It forms a central ingredient in achieving quality education in schools besides improving school performance. Caldwell and Spinks (1998a, p. 42) note that, school Based Management is a new era in relation to “thinking” of School administrators and education stakeholders across the world hence, exploring new alternatives to create a steady education system and empowering independent schools. By streamlining education systems, School-based management (SBM) gives a new window of creating an enhancement by devolving school management from traditional central administrative units to independent school sites. SBM gives autonomy to school administrators, teachers, parents and other community members the right to oversee what happens in their own schools.
This paper defines School-Based Management, SBM. It also critically discusses the management practices that can favor its implementation in independent schools.
School-Based Management, commonly referred to as SBM, is an alternate conventional disposition of school district administration that consolidates its leadership in the district head office (Gunter, 2001, P.111). In other words, SBM can generate a system of organization in which a school is the main entity in education policymaking. Gunter (2001, P.38) illustrates that responsibility relating to certain decisions such as budget, curriculum development, and personnel are done at the school level instead of the district level. This, therefore, gives principals, students, parents, business owners, and teachers more influence on educational processes at a local level.
Leadership Practices in Implementing SBM
Leadership ethics and practices are essential in the strategic implementation of SBM in accordance with the set objectives. Caldwell and Spinks (1998a, P. 30) Note that, in implementing SBM in public schools, the experience can be borrowed from private sectors. Districts need to formulate policies that not only appropriate explicit control rights to general schools but also focus specifically on independent schools. This will ensure devolved leadership is achieved and an efficient coordination structure is in place between local leadership and the district.
Needs assessment is an initial step in implementing SBM in independent schools. In ensuring an effective SBM strategy, the school management team should carry out a needs assessment survey. Needs assessment helps the implementing team exhibit areas that need a supreme upgrade. Groups such as support staff, parents, teachers, students, and community members should be involved in needs assessment to a larger extent so as to get the most needed response as confirmed by Caldwell and Spinks (1998a, P. 130). The assessment contributes in formulating a model that benefits the team in prioritizing goals for school.
Support of Team Members
School management team forms an essential element in implementing SBM. Its composition should be unique i.e. the team should be made up of different individuals with different experiences and knowledge. However, the team should maintain the same individuals at every stage of SBM implementation. Caldwell and Spinks (1998a, P. 187) note that the team should be made up of teachers, principal, subordinate staff, local business owners and community members. Besides, the school board and superintendent should be involved. Mutual trust among the team members should be upheld to simplify communication and ease implementation scheme.
In fostering support and confidence, a memorandum of agreement that outlines responsibilities of superintendent, principal school board and SBM council should be created to serve as a binding obligation for the team. The agreement should outline the standard to be met by independent schools and show procedures for accountability, just in case a need arises. For instance, each individual school should provide reports such as annual planning and performance information that demonstrate how it meets its goal, deploys its resources and its intended objectives.
Moreover, support of mini-enterprises comprising of students taught by teachers, can be important in executing decisions in relation to resource allocation. This gives an incentive thus optimizing implementation performance (Caldwell and Spinks, 1998a, P. 42).
Additionally, embracing and supporting “parallel” structures can support implementation of SBM. Teams responsible for quality enhancement, usually composed of different level of employees and management committees, should help in enhancing a strong agreement between the team and community. Consequently, the committees should have different lines of responsibilities with different duties on the roles of organizational growth and advised on how to design progress to achieve common success (Caldwell and Spinks, 1998b, P. 72).
The SBM team should adopt participative approach that aims at strengthening specific aspects of SBM such as curriculum formulation, teaching, and routine operations.
Staff Training and Development
Training is important for any given implementation strategy. Mishra (2005,P 210) points out that in implementing SBM, training will be critical in areas such as decision-making skills, problem-solving, and group dynamics is essential for staff and participating community members. This is important during the initial years of implementation. Caldwell and Spinks (1992a, P. 28) outline the procedures of minimizing risks during SBM implementation. Caldwell and Spinks note that, principals may need more training in areas such as communication, leadership, and business skills.Besides, training of school boards or councils, on effective methods of organizing meetings and ways of improving agreement should be emphasized with most attention centered on a specific range of issues or problems the council members will experience. In addition, district boards should strengthen and expand teachers’ expertise on matters regarding instructional and programmatic changes of the schools.
Caldwell and Spinks (1992b, P. 124) confirm that, these changes may include knowledge or skills on teaching, learning and curriculum. Therefore, school districts office in aiding implementation of devolved management should strive at ensuring effective training on the stated skills besides, urging a need to encourage a broader choice of training and administration practices that are personalized in supporting new processes at the district head office and school level.
Information Sharing and Decision Making
McEwan (2000, p.190) illustrates that information sharing and decision-making ensures that implementation of SBM is carried out without hitches. The school management team should ensure that the whole school is involved in the process of mutual decision-making. This will allow stakeholders an opportunity to share ideas and opinions with the other team representatives. The ideas and opinions of representatives should then be reflected in the team committees. Mishra (2005, p. 210) stresses that team decision-making meetings should be a conservative forum for the sharing of ideas and genuine manner of views. Moreover, accessing accurate and timely information can empower the team to make an informed decision when implementing the strategy. In most both public and private education systems, much information traditionally has been available only at the senior management level of the organization thus hampering implementation.
However, school districts have begun giving useful information regarding organizational capabilities needed to accelerate implementation of SBM programs for example. Largely, schools are expected to meet district wide objectives. Individuals at the school site therefore need this information in assessing their performance in relation to set goals or objectives. Consequently, schools, like other profit making organizations, should include complete information concerning their performance with other schools to make implementation much simplified as explained by Bush and Bell (2002, P.68). Thus, this will on the other hand verify their competitiveness with others as it is a common characteristic in a competitive market-based option plan.
Consequently, schools based teams should include information about the extent to which they are meeting students, parents and community wishes (Caldwell and Spinks, 1998b, P. 57). This information should form part of implementation strategy. Besides, the information should be easily accessible and made available to schools a timely manner. This will enhance reforms during the process to improve the school performance.
A school mission statement is one indicator that can be used by school-based teams and stakeholders in independent school site. A clear mission statement will help teams when it comes to fixing school goals, assessing progress in attaining goals and to share information with the community as a whole. Mishra (2005, P.16) points out that research carried out in 1980s in regard to effective schools proved that several schools had school missions outlining school culture and environment. This information is popular at private schools of which their successes rely on their usefulness to communicate consistent attributes to potential and prospective parents and students. Consequently, individual schools forthwith stress on business information because they form essential aspect of solid finances, tuition fees information, remuneration and categories of expenses among other useful information that is necessary to schools’ success (Caldwell and Spinks 1998b, P. 88).
Moreover, the process of transmission of information is important to schools. Most public schools have informal channels as a method of communication with parents, teachers, and communities. Elaborate communication and information flow should follow a systematic approach to improve accountability and enhance decision making, especially during the implementation of SBM strategies. The systematic approach adopted by independent schools such as having written codes and formalized approaches in transmitting information is a sure way of fixing correct implementation strategies. Therefore this should create a model of implementation strategy.
According to Bush and Bell (2002,P.23), processes in handling conflicts and conflict management, compensation schemes for faculty members, elaborate job requirements, strategic options, and procedures and guideline for achieving goals should be documented and disseminated to school community. The documented information is one method that facilitates school management team to communicate the school’s mission to the community and other stakeholders. Studies in the 1980s of strong public schools indicate that they rely on formal and documented information in respect to expectation of students and staff, but not to the scope of use in independent schools (Mishra, 2005, P.189).
Evaluation is necessary to determine the progress attained by the school management team in instituting effectiveness, and procedures. The team should endeavor to collect data at regular intervals to analyze changes or incorporate new ones (Caldwell and Spinks, 1992a, P. 145). The school based team, should evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies used at the onsite school level to verify that the decision making process improve student achievement and comparable to school needs and the community as a whole (Caldwell and Spinks, 1992a, P. 78).
Effective implementation of SBM needs elaborative leadership practices such as performing training needs appraisal, analyzing needs assessment, and support for programs, staff training and evaluation, among other important practices. Many problems or challenges arise during the implementation of SBM. However, measures to mitigate the risks during the implementation of the strategy should be in place to avoid failure of program or initiatives. Research is of critical importance in identifying challenges and in decision-making.
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Caldwell, B., Spinks J. M., 1992. Leading the Self-Managing School.Routledge:New York.
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Gunter, H., 2001. Leaders and Leadership in Education. SAGE: California.
McEwan, E.K., 2000.Solving School Problems. H. Shaw Publishers: Tennessee.
Mishra, R.C., 2005. Management of Educational Research.APH Publishing: New Delhi.