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System alignment as a key strategy in building capacity for school transformation

Jim Watterston (Department of Education and Training, Canberra, Australia)
Brian Caldwell (Educational Transformations, Brighton, Australia)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 27 September 2011




The purpose of this paper is to review strategies to build capacity for school improvement in Australia. The focus is on public schools and strategies adopted for the system as a whole.


This paper traces developments from a national perspective and makes a case for the key contemporary policy shift that has provided the platform for a new era of educational reform. Two contrasting case studies are described in order to demonstrate the pathways embarked on by a large jurisdiction, namely the State of Victoria, which has led the nation in terms of devolved decision‐making for public schools, and second, a much smaller jurisdiction, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which is introducing a range of reforms to give public schools much greater autonomy in order to achieve improved performance. The paper concludes with a “futures” view of how strategies may continue to evolve. Shifting the language from “improvement” to “transformation” is canvassed.


It is concluded that a key to success has been to align strategies among different levels of the school system: central, regional/district, school and classroom. The possibilities for moving beyond improvement to transformation are canvassed.


The value of the paper lies in its up‐to‐date account of system‐wide efforts to improve schools and a summary of evidence on their impact. The paper is of particular interest to school and school system leaders as well as those engaged in the study of educational policy and educational leadership.



Watterston, J. and Caldwell, B. (2011), "System alignment as a key strategy in building capacity for school transformation", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 49 No. 6, pp. 637-652.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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