Turbulence, Empowerment and Marginalisation in International Education Governance Systems

Cover of Turbulence, Empowerment and Marginalisation in International Education Governance Systems


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(20 chapters)


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Part I Conceptualising Turbulence, Empowerment and Marginalisation


This introduction sets the scene for the study by explaining the rationale for presenting a comparative analysis of five nation states’ governance systems; England, Northern Ireland, Arabs in Israel, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States, with Nigerian interests represented in the research design. The context is that of a global phenomenon of a Black–White achievement gap (Wagner, 2010). The quality is world leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour. We present a theory of colonisation between groups with different interests, which includes nation states colonising other nation states, and dominant groups within nation states colonising marginalised groups. We also explored how dominant groups within educational governance systems may colonise marginalised groups within education governance systems. We theorised colonisation using Karpman’s Triangle (1968) identifying that different groups can be oppressor, and/or victim, and/or rescuer, and these roles may shift as changes occur in power and economic influence. We present the Empowering Young Societal Innovators for Equity and Renewal Model (Taysum et al., 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) with five principals for equity and renewal. We explain the turbulence that senior-level leaders experience and how education governance systems need to empower their autonomy as credentialed educational professionals’ with track records of school improvement. Impact strategies to optimise students’ learning and students’ outcomes, and build the community’s values of social justice, courage and prudence need to underpin social mobility. These innovations are only possible if they are informed by grass roots participatory philosophical inquiry, that is informed by and informs policy, and is carefully monitored for quality assurance against the highest of educational professional standards.


This chapter identifies that distributed leadership is about sharing power for political pluralism. Distributed leadership has a comprehensive commitment to bringing different groups with different interests, different languages and dialects, different knowledge bases, different metaphysical knowledge and different religions, or no religion, together through provisional agreement on key principals of political pluralism. Marginalised groups may not feel like they belong and may be vulnerable to ideologies that give them a sense of being disconnected from community. Such a position stands as a barrier to political pluralism and shared world views. The situation might be ignored in schools because developing political liberalism through participatory, evidence-informed leadership that is logical, moral and ethical requires time, and agents need to be prepared for such identity work. However, the problem cannot be ignored if community members seek to belong with risky gangs, and are vulnerable to radicalisation, which is very dangerous for them and for their communities. Empowering others may be achieved by developing their capability to ask good questions, and apply collaborative critical thinking for solving social and personal problems. Such empowerment requires shifts from hierarchical teaching of standardised knowledge that is right or wrong to doing the right thing as mature citizens in becoming. The chapter also identifies that it cannot be assumed that leaders are willing or able to distribute leadership, or that doing so would be a panacea for navigating the turbulence faced by their schools to empower societal innovators for equity and renewal. Rather, we concur with Leithwood et al. (2008) who advocate for a thoughtful and purposeful approach to developing leadership for school improvement.


In this chapter, we present a critical engagement with the methodology that each research team presenting a case study in this book from England, Arab Israel, Northern Ireland, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States adopted.

Education is a cultural project that consists of history, narrative and faith. The Black, Asian Minority Ethnicity (BAME) and senior leaders representing marginalised groups that we talked to in this research all stated that their faith, and religion was central to their service as an educational leader. The faiths represented in our research are Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and no faith where a humanitarian approach is taken. The chapter presents the scientific significance of what values underpin these leaders’ behaviours, and to understand how their values align with legislation, education policy and the values found in Education Governance Systems.

A constructivist comparative analysis approach was adopted to address four research questions. First, how do the senior-level leaders describe and understand how school governance systems and school commissioners empower them to develop school communities as societal innovators for equity and renewal for peace in our time? Second, how do they describe and understand the role mentors, and/or advocates play to support their navigation through the governance systems? Third, to what extent do they believe a cultural change is required to empower them in school communities to Empower Young Societal Innovators for Equity and Renewal for peace in our time? Finally, how can the findings be theorised to generate a theory of knowledge to action through impact strategies within an international comparative analysis framework?

Each of the five international cases collected the narrative biographies of up to 15 superintendents, or chief executive officers of multi-academy trusts of colour. In the Northern Ireland case, eight religiously divided key agents of change were selected as an equivalence for the governance structures in the other five case studies. The total number of senior-level leaders participating in the five case studies was 40.

Each author read their findings through Gross’ (2014) Turbulence Theory and typology to categorise the level and the impact of the challenges the key agents of change need to navigate as they mediate between the governance systems. Gross (2014, p. 248) theory of turbulence is used as a metaphor and states that ‘turbulence can be described as “light” with little or no movement of the craft. “Moderate” with very noticeable waves. “Severe” with strong gusts that threaten control of the aircraft. “Extreme” with forces so great that control is lost and structure damage to the craft occurs’. The chapter identifies the findings were read through the theory of turbulence to reveal the state of the Education Governance Systems and their impact on empowering cosmopolitan citizens to participate fully and freely in societal interactions and cooperation between diverse groups. The authors’ chapters are subject to a comparative analysis that took place at the European Conference for Educational Research Annual Conference in two large seminars (Taysum et al., 2017) in Denmark, further developed by the editors and committed to peer-review.

Part II Five International Cases of Turbulence, Empowerment, and Marginalisation


The professional challenge the chapter addresses is Black, Asian Minority Ethnic Chief Executive Officers (BAME CEOs) who lead Multi-academy Trusts (MATs) in England need to navigate turbulence to assure all schools within their MATs are high performing. In the investigation of this issue, the structures of MATs themselves emerge as causing turbulence. Evidence revealed the BAME CEOs with track records of improving failing schools to outstanding schools interviewed in this research are working in partnership with their communities. These BAME CEOs sustain their high achieving MATs and/or take on more schools that need improving and lead their change to outstanding schools with BAME communities, non-BAME communities and diverse communities. However, they were not given the opportunities to build capacity for high-performing schools by the current MAT structures. Rapid change to the organisation of Public Education Governance Systems has shifted power from local authority governance to public corporation governance without addressing any of the old problems in the change (Brighouse, 2017). The rapid change has led to a clash of cultures between those with the values of generic Public Governance Systems who have not been democratically elected by the public and do not require professional educational credentials, a track record of being ethical teachers, and a track record of leading ethical teachers in ethical communities in school improvement from ‘Needs Improvement’ to ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. The rapid change has been hallmarked by a lack of full and free interactions and cooperation of the public in how the change in public education is being implemented. There has been no referendum on whether parents want their schools organised by their representatives they have elected in local councils or organised by public corporations financed by Private Finance Incentive (PFI) and Private Finance 2 (PF2) and operated by public corporations like Carillion.


This chapter addresses how Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Multi-academy Trusts (MATs) with track records of outstanding school improvement navigate turbulence when leading school improvement to optimise students’ learning. There are different ideas of what it means to have equitable access and equitable outcomes in education systems, and beyond, and how to live a good life on the journey to both. These different ideas and values’ systems have different intersectionalities of recognition by ‘the other’ in societies. Crenshaw argues, once these intersectionalities of discrimination have been identified, it will be possible to understand what Dewey calls their intrinsic nature and to seek ways to reconnect the isolated, and marginalised that are subjects of discrimination. The BAME CEOs articulate the current Public Governance of Education Systems that induces fear of forced takeovers and job insecurity creates a kind of divide and conquer approach of colonialism and intersectionalities of discrimination. The chapter identifies BAME CEOs want to create cultures where they can make a commitment to take the time to know the self, in relationship with the other, and build bridges between different groups in society for equity, renewal, trust, and peace in our time. The BAME CEOs wishing to empower others to engage in this moral training for democracy in education need to have and share the thinking tools to prevent community members from being manipulated by people who wish to rush them into new ways of thinking and doing. Change requires giving mature citizens the time and space to think things through by: asking good questions, critiquing the evidence underpinning the change, inquiring into the logic of the change and holding the moral compass of the change to check the direction steers a sure and steady ethical course with what Adler calls the primary virtues of social justice, prudently and with courage.


This chapter explores the topic of supporting young people to become innovators for societal change in terms of equity and renewal from the perspective of school principals in Northern Ireland, a post-conflict society. We examine how school principals can be empowered in their role in providing this support and the challenges and turbulence that they face in their work. The chapter provides contextual information about education in what is still largely a divided society in Northern Ireland. The principals who were interviewed as part of this research were working within school partnerships as part of ‘shared education’ projects. In Northern Ireland, the Shared Education Act (2016) provides a legislative basis for two or more local schools from different educational sectors to work in partnership to provide an opportunity for sustained shared learning activities with the aim of improving both educational and reconciliation outcomes for young people. The challenges for school leadership of working in partnership in societies emerging from conflict has not been given the attention it deserves in the literature, so this work is significant in that it brings together a focus on school leadership in a ‘shared education’ context, drawing on theories of collaboration and turbulence to examine how principals can best be empowered to be agents of change, so that pupils in Northern Ireland can also become empowered to make society there more equitable and peaceful. While the focus is on Northern Ireland, the learnings from this study will be of wider interest and significance as similar challenges are faced by school leaders internationally.


The research aimed to clarify how supervisors in the Arab education system act to close the achievement gaps and to introduce learning programs that can empower students and improve their achievements. Qualitative research employed in-depth interviews with supervisors in the Arab education system, which constitutes a substantial element of the schools’ governance. The research attempted to answer the following questions: (1) Which steps do education administrators in the Arab education system take to reduce students’ underachievement, widen circles of cooperation and empower change agents during crises that deepen achievement gaps between Arab and Jewish students? (2) Do Arab school supervisors understand their interplay with government policies as empowering or disempowering them to improve students’ achievements and ensure the curriculum’s cultural relevance? (3) To what extent do the supervisors believe that cultural change is required to enable them to empower school communities to become societal innovators for equity, peace and renewal within existing administrative structures?

Research findings were interpreted through the lens of Turbulence Theory (Gross, 2014). Findings indicated that the supervisors strive to improve students’ achievements. A major challenge is to ensure the relevance of learning programs to the school community, while mediating between local community demands and the technocratic accountability imposed by the Ministry of Education for the implementation of its policies. This leadership is isolated in its efforts to establish fairness and education for empowerment and coexistence in a divided society. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.


This chapter reports on research work which was a component of an independent review of the primary school curriculum renewal exercise that was commissioned by the Ministry of Education in Trinidad and Tobago and executed during 2012–2013. It examines how agencies functioned to engender educational change through education governance systems in the process of revising the curriculum. Turbulence Theory (Gross, 2014) was the tool used to explore the interactions among agencies. The research shows that turbulence occurred at various stages and that the outcome of interactions among the agencies that were in pursuit of educational change and equity was largely dependent on the extent of the turbulence and how it was managed. For example, the local Curriculum Planning Team (CPT) was able to learn from external consultants while firmly maintaining that they were the ones who had a deep understanding of the local context and should therefore have a major say in what was included in the curriculum. However, the CPT could do little to offset the severe turbulence caused when the political directorate mandated that there should be full-scale implementation of the revised curriculum without the benefit of a pilot. The role of socio-political contextual factors in the curriculum development process is highlighted.


Superintendents’ agency in the US is shaped by governance systems within education systems. These Education Governance Systems have been in a state of flux and experienced turbulence for twenty years. The professional challenge this research addresses is how do 14 credentialed educational professional African American women superintendents with doctorates and track records of school improvement, navigate the turbulence to empower families, and Empower Young Societal Innovators for Equity, Renewal (EYSIER), Social Mobility, and Peace.

This chapter identifies three aspects of a theory of knowledge to action to emerge from the empirical evidence presented. First, African American women superintendents need to know how to access policy and legislation, how to stay up to date with policy and need to be empowered to challenge policy. Policy has the back of African American women fighting institutionalised racism. Second, African American women superintendents need role models, and mentors with wisdom who can create proactive and mobilising networks across the state and the nation to advocate for and to support the teachers’ and leaders’ professional learning to be the best teachers, leaders and superintendents they can be. Finally, the African American women superintendents who have been self-selecting, or identified as potential future superintendents by current superintendents and schoolboards, need to be part of succession planning that transcends the short elected lives of district school boards. Newly incumbent African American women superintendents need to be empowered by Education Governance Systems to enable them to deliver on their manifestos and track records of outstanding school improvement with the impact strategies they were employed to implement. The impact strategies include promoting high-quality home–school engagement and ensuring all students learn how to learn, are culturally sensitive, ask good questions and solve problems as Young Societal Innovators for Equity and Renewal. The chapter recommends a network of African American women superintendents implements this theory of knowledge to action and that their work is documented, and if successful in optimising students’ learning, and outcomes, disseminated to build capacity for EYSIER.

Part III Turbulence, Empowerment and Marginalisation: Knowledge to Action


This chapter presents a comparative analysis of the English, Northern Irish, Arab Israeli, Trinidad and Tobago and the US cases. The focus is what we have learned from the research about: the relationships within Education Governance Systems to navigate turbulence; building capacity for empowering senior-level leaders to deliver on their manifestos and outstanding track records for school improvement; reducing the achievement gap between dominant groups and marginalised groups in International Governance Systems. The chapter identifies that all cases require participatory multi-stakeholder action to develop and support collaborative networked learning communities in practice. Such communities of and for practice need to Empower Young Societal Innovators for Equity and Renewal (EYSIER). Policy and Education Governance Systems have the potential to synthesise the best of what has been said and done in the past, with innovative ways of working by empowering networks of knowledge building and advocacy. These networks co-create opportunities for action learners to work together to describe intersectionalities of discrimination and begin to remove fear of discrimination and marginalisation from Education Governance Systems. From this position, senior-level leaders can work with their leaders, teachers, parents and students to optimise how learning about the self, and learning how to learn improves community education for all students and EYSIER.


The aim of this book is to set an agenda and address a gap in the literature regarding Turbulence, Empowerment and Marginalisation in International Education Governance Systems and its relationship with narrowing the global phenomena of a Black-White achievement gap.

The aims are met by addressing the following quesitions. First, how do senior leaders of Educational Governance Systems who are from and represent marginalised groups in society, describe and understand how School Governance Systems empower or disempower them to develop school communities as societal innovators for equity, and renewal? Second, how do these senior-level leaders within Education Governance Systems describe and understand the role mentors and/or advocates play to support their navigation through the turbulence? Third, to what extent, do these senior-level leaders of Education Governance Systems believe a cultural change is required to empower them in school and college communities including staff, families, students and community partnerships to Empower Young Societal Innovators for Equity and Renewal (EYSIER)? Finally, what theories of knowledge to action emerge regarding how these senior-level leaders might successfully navigate turbulence to empower marginalised groups for equity and renewal for all in Public Corporate Education Governance Systems?

We identified in Chapter 1 that the context is one of colonisation between different groups. In Chapter 2, The review of literature focused on turbulence in Education Governance Systems and identified the global distribution of knowledge concerning education from cash-rich countries has had a tremendous impact on what is taught and tested in schools. Nation states that are not cash rich are marginalised in a global politics. International Testing Industries examine the output of national education systems through a global lens. These studies do not shed light on: the socio-economic, or political context that shape the values, primary moral virtues and secondary intellectual virtues and acts of particular legislation; the fair funding formulas that underpin the allocation of funds to the construction of infrastructure; the Education Governance Systems structures and agencies; and the organisation of processes and practices of the education system within the international community. Intellectual and cultural colonisation that may lack what Adler calls moral and ethical frameworks may accelerate the commodification of education. Chapter 3 critically discussed how we implemented the same research design in each case taking a humanistic approach and identified that the research adopts a shared world view and seeks to recognise scientific, intellectual knowledge, and metaphysical moral and empirical knowledge. Chapters 4 through 9 presented the English, Northern Irish, Arab-Israeli, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States cases, and each case identified a clash of values between the professional educational credentialed senior-level leaders with track records for outstanding school improvement, and those in Educational Governance Systems with: no professional credentials; no track record of school improvement; a tendency to promote competition rather than cooperation; a desire for internal succession planning, rather than succession planning to achieve national education goals. The clash of cultures put senior-level leaders into a mode of protectionism with a focus on keeping their post and ‘watching their backs’, rather than building capacity for sustainable instruction within the Education Governance Systems they lead manage and administrate to optimise students’ learning, students’ outcomes and social mobility.

These senior-level leaders with Professional Credentials, and outstanding track records of school improvement need Education Governance Systems to empower them to do their job and create realistic opportunities to develop networks of professional experts in partnership with the academy to support them navigate any clash of world views. Funding is required for professional learning to ensure ‘old opinion is handed down among them by ancient tradition’ that is rationalised with logic, compared and contrasted with empirical evidence, and synthesised with innovations guided by a moral compass within an ethical infrastructure. These senior-level leaders need to be empowered to empower their staff as autonomous professionals to empower the parents and the students to gain the thinking tools they need to be lifelong learners with the capability to be self-legislating. This requires a culture change that prioritises the moral virtues of learning how to learn as moral citizens in becoming, above the secondary intellectual virtues demonstrated through success in high stakes tests.

Knowledge to action reveals young people need Education Governance Systems that EYSIER and underpin success in student outcomes for social mobility. Success in both these spheres will enable them to break their chains that have kept them dependent on the guidance of others who may seek to exploit them (De Gruy, 2008).

Further research is recommended to implement the knowledge to action impact strategies that emerge from all five cases.


Pages 311-325
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Cover of Turbulence, Empowerment and Marginalisation in International Education Governance Systems
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Studies in Educational Administration
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Emerald Publishing Limited