Territory Stories

2009 Structural Review of the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training : delivering the goods



2009 Structural Review of the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training : delivering the goods

Other title

Ladwig and Sarra


Ladwig, James; Sarra, Chris


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




Cover title. Report includes Northern Territory Government Media Release -" Education Restructure – Next Building Block for Excellence" by Paul Henderson.




Northern Territory -- Education

Publisher name

Northern Territory Government

Place of publication



66 p. : col. ill. ; 30 cm.

File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



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Citation address


Page content

. . . . . . .. . . 2009 Structural Review of NT DET Delivering the Goods 25 March 2009 20 Finding 1: There is a clear lack of clear systemic direction. Goals and priorities identified by the system reflect specific project and individual interests, driven by funding without coordination. There is a lack of identified measurable targets for the system. The current DET plan offers the most direct evidence of this finding. That plan identifies 24 desired achievements. Some of these desired achievements declare that targets are to be met, without any specific naming of those targets noted in the plan. For example, targets for student outcomes in attendance and NAPLAN results are to be met, but no targets are named. Twenty measures are identified in the plan, and yet many of the desired achievements remain unmeasured. For example, the plan declares that Quality teaching and learning are delivered in a flexible way amongst its desired achievements, but no measure of teaching is provided. Finally, the plan names 30 Priorities, some of which are clearly naming specific government funded projects (e.g., six new mobile preschools in remote communities), and others are very general (e.g., literacy and numeracy). Interviews with DET personnel reflected the project-based focus of DETs priorities and the proliferation of unrelated specific systemic initiatives often with little overall systemic strategic rationale. In such plans, measurable set targets derived from long-term goals and translated into short term targets, should be tightly connected to the identified goals. Named priorities should provide guidance and rationale for on the ground decision making that occurs between planning cycles. Finding 2: The system reflects high levels of systemic de-coupling (organisational slippage between units that are meant to function in an integrated manner) and silo building (organisational empire building). Systemic de-coupling is a term used in organisational research to describe systems that formally operate in a coherent, rational fashion but that coherence is not matched by the lived experience of those working in the system (or by its clients). The most clear example of this in the current DET structure (until recently) was evident from the organisational chart of January 2009 (see Figure 4 below). In that chart there were at least six different sections dedicated (nominally) to policy development with no clear structure to support either the coordination or consolidation of the policy so generated. At the same time, reports to the review indicate that there is no current policy handbook available to School managers, nor even to corporate staff. Likewise, the review (despite several requests) found policy on neither the formation and structure of Group Schools, nor of Cluster structures both of which were objects of direct examination by the review. Similarly, the office responsible for internal communication itself identified the lack of a policy on internal communication and the lack of a handbook by which new personnel might locate who (which office) does what in the system. All of these (and more) are examples of a high degree of systemic de-coupling that has in part developed through the expansion of and divisions between different silos within DET. Communication break downs are one side effect of silo building. Example: A policy to change the naming of schools (to be more consistent) was developed and documented in September 2008. In February 2009 that policy was unknown to database managers and had not been applied to databases.

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