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An exploration of Board of Trustees' perceptions of their impact on student learning

The radical changes within the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms came to fruition in 1989 amid much debate about the ideology that underpinned the change and the capability and roles of boards of trustees. The roles of boards have evolved from a primary focus on compliance to the current focus on student achievement. This has raised the question of whether trustees, individually or collectively, have an impact on student learning through their governance roles. This small-scale study sets out to explore the perceptions of a small group of trustees. It uses a qualitative framework, based on data from semi-structured interviews with ten trustees across five primary schools. The interview data was supplemented with school and sector-based documentation. The study sought of trustees their perceptions of their impact on student learning through an analysis of the data, and with consideration given to participants’ context. The literature review provides an historical review of Tomorrow’s Schools and outlines how boards are enabled, or constrained, by aspects of the governance model. The findings of the study suggest that trustees perceived that they had both a direct and indirect impact on student learning. It identified challenges for trustees related to the governance-management model, and how trustees understood student learning. It highlighted a perceived lack of support for trustees and a need for improved quality and quantity of trustee training, as well as noting the influence of compliance on trustees’ thinking. This study raises questions about the support that the current governance model provides for student learning and concludes with a range of recommendations for policy-makers and for future research. It suggests that, in relation to student learning, Nash’s (1989) comment that the ‘jury is still out’ about the effectiveness of the model may still be valid.
Type of thesis
Sheterline, R. C. (2013). An exploration of Board of Trustees’ perceptions of their impact on student learning (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8480
University of Waikato
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