Educational Research and Innovation

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

2076-9679 (online)
2076-9660 (print)
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This series of books from the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovations provides the results of OECD work on innovation in education.

Also available in French
Education Governance in Action

Education Governance in Action

Lessons from Case Studies You do not have access to this content

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Tracey Burns, Florian Köster, Marc Fuster
09 Sep 2016
9789264262829 (PDF) ;9789264262652(print)

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Governing multi-level education systems requires governance models that balance responsiveness to local diversity with the ability to ensure national objectives. This delicate equilibrium is difficult to achieve given the complexity of many education systems. Countries are therefore increasingly looking for examples of good practice and models of effective modern governance that they can adapt to their own needs.

Education Governance in Action: Lessons from Case Studies bridges theory and practice by connecting major themes in education governance to real-life reform efforts in a variety of countries. It builds upon in-depth case studies of education reform efforts in Flanders (Belgium), Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden. The case studies are complemented by country examples of efforts to restore and sustain trust in their education systems. Together they provide a rich illustration of modern governance challenges - and successes.

The volume highlights the importance of the interdependence between knowledge and governance and focuses on essential components for modern education governance: accountability, capacity building and strategic thinking. It sets the agenda for thinking about the flexible and adaptive systems necessary for governing education in today's complex world. This publication will be of interest to policy makers, education leaders, teachers, the education research community and all those interested in education governance and complexity.

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  • Foreword and Acknowledgements

    Delivering high quality, efficient, equitable and innovative education is a crucial issue for OECD countries. This is not a simple task, especially given the connected trends of decentralisation, more diverse societies and increases in the availability of data which have greatly increased the complexity of the system. Modern education governance now requires engaging diverse actors and stakeholders across multiple levels, and working within a complex and dynamic system. Under the umbrella of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), the Governing Complex Education Systems (GCES) project focused on identifying effective models of governance in modern complex education systems and the corresponding knowledge systems necessary to support them.

  • Executive Summary

    Today’s education systems are increasingly complex as a result of multiple layers of governance and a greater number of stakeholders than ever before. Governing these complex systems requires models of governance that are able to balance responsiveness to local diversity with the ability to ensure national objectives. As a result, education systems are looking for examples of good practice and models of effective modern governance that they can adapt to their own needs.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Setting the stage: Governing complex education systems

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    • Effective education governance and reform

      One of the most pressing issues for OECD countries is identifying effective models of governance in complex and dynamic education systems. Given that knowledge and governance processes are highly interdependent, research and policy must focus on ways that knowledge systems can better support governance processes. The chapter proposes an analytical framework that combines governance mechanisms and knowledge options in one ecosystem. Using this analytical framework as a focal point, the chapter then highlights three key themes at the heart of modern governance: accountability, capacity building and strategic thinking. It provides a summary of the work of the OECD in this area, highlighting a set of case studies and a series of trust briefs that provide the material for the analyses presented in the rest of this volume. The chapter concludes with an overview of the full publication.

    • The complex interaction between knowledge and governance

      Governments in all OECD countries are facing a growing need for governance structures that can handle complexity and provide actors with the knowledge they need to make decisions. This chapter provides an overview of relevant research in public management, political science and public policy, sociology, institutional economics and organisational management, augmented with work from education and other social sciences. It also proposes an analytical framework that combines models of governance with modes of learning and types of knowledge, and provides preliminary empirical examples to support this framework. In the context of diverse social, economic and political environments of OECD countries, the interaction between two focal points – models of governance and types of knowledge – has become increasingly relevant to researchers, policy makers, and education stakeholders more generally.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Bridging theory and practice: Learning from the case studies

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    • Case studies of governing complex education systems

      The GCES case studies examine the process of reform by focusing on one specific example in a particular education system. Case studies were conducted in Flanders (Belgium), Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden. This chapter presents an overview of the full set of reports as well as a summary of each case study, describing the policy under study, findings and recommendations.

    • Priority setting, steering and policy learning in education

      Central to policy making in complex education systems is the question of what kinds of governance mechanisms are effective for sustainable change. In this context the policy process is approached as a cycle comprising priority setting, policy steering and policy learning while acknowledging the fluidity between the stages. The chapter examines challenges as well as drivers for successful policy design and implementation. It pays special attention to the role of knowledge in defining priorities and designing interventions, and the need for matching support and pressure to secure aligned action and common direction at the implementation stage. Equally central, the chapter highlights policy monitoring and evaluation as tools to improve education policies and eventually shape a sustainable culture of learning within our education systems.

    • Ensuring accountability in education

      While many OECD education systems have been decentralised – giving schools and local school authorities greater autonomy to accommodate citizens’ needs – ministries of education remain responsible for ensuring high-quality education for all. Setting up a system of accountability that productively reconciles tensions and conflicts in this environment is a challenge for many education systems, as they must simultaneously integrate diverse stakeholder demands and make evidence informed decisions. This chapter describes the various forms accountability can take and discusses deficits and tensions regarding accountability in education systems. Based on examples from the GCES case studies, the chapter addresses the crucial importance of capacity building for actors facing multiple accountability demands and emphasises the need to align accountability mechanisms to serve the purpose of systemic learning and improvement.

    • Capacity building for education reform

      This chapter addresses the role of capacities as key facilitators in helping policies bring about change. By building upon the GCES case studies, the chapter analyses enablers and barriers for capacity building in relation to four main factors affecting change in complex systems: shared vison and common understanding, vertical capacity building and the role of the central policy level, networking as a horizontal form of capacity building, and policy flexibility and sustainability. Additionally, the chapter takes a special look at a central element for educational management and improvement: capacities for the use of data.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Looking ahead

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    • When trust breaks down in education systems

      Trust is an important but complex ingredient of good governance and education reform. Existing literature has explored the nature of trust and the ideal ‘virtuous cycle’ of continuous trust building. However, much less is known about the more common phenomenon – when trust breaks down and is followed by attempts to restore and sustain it. In order to supplement the established literature on the topic, short trust briefs were collected from a variety of OECD countries. Each brief explored examples of how trust in education systems broke down and was (potentially) restored. This chapter discusses current research on trust and how it might pertain to education policy and reform. It synthesises strategies to restore and sustain trust observed across the briefs. The four main strategies may be broadly categorised as: stakeholder engagement, capacity building, accountability and strategic thinking.

    • Smarter education governance

      As educational systems have decentralised, they are increasingly looking for ways to balance responsiveness to local diversity with achieving national goals. They must do so as efficiently as possible, given limited financial resources and the confines and pressures of time-sensitive political cycles. This chapter explores the five elements of modern governance for complex systems, which together operate to create a smart state, capable of solving modern governance challenges. They five elements are: a focus on process rather than structures, adaptability and flexibility, stakeholder involvement and capacity building, a whole of system approach, and the harnessing of evidence and research to inform policy and practice. The chapter links these five elements to the lessons learned from the GCES case studies and trust briefs, bridging theory and practice with real world examples from OECD education systems.

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