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

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Ladwig and Sarra


Ladwig, James; Sarra, Chris


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




Northern Territory -- Education

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Northern Territory Government

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

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Northern Territory Government



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25 March 2009 27 On the other hand, departmental personnel also identified a lack of performance management as a key issue. However, explanations for this problem from the department largely hinged on what they perceived to be a lack of addressing the problem locally, by principals. Thus, the review was presented a situation in which a widely recognised problem was largely being addressed by stakeholders literally pointing the finger at, and blaming, each other. This is but one example, and extends to how schools and teachers explain low attendance (blaming kids home life), how the department explains remuneration difficulties (blaming another department), etc. Finding 16: A culture of non-responsibility (You cant hold us responsible for.) One of the more interesting responses to acknowledged problems in performance management included overt ideological opposition to the basic ideas behind any systemic attempt to promote and increase accountability. Here, overt statements against holding anyone responsible within the system were well articulated. There appears to be a generalized fear of a systemic approach being taken towards greater accountability for performance in relation to achievement of desired outcomes for all students. Complexity over causation and relative intractability of problems are used as covers of convenience to avoid the taking of responsibility. Finding 17: A prevalence of low expectations in relation to students, teachers, and other system personnel, (They cant do .) Directly related to the question of non-responsibility was a notable prevalence of low expectations, particularly but not limited to expectation of students and teachers. For students, this is evident in how teachers explain under-performance in the quality of work displayed publicly, and in system personnel explanations for system wide under-achievement. For teachers, this is evident in how their work is often unsupervised, and under managed. For system personnel this is evident in obviously incomplete or inaccurate work being delivered to executive officers (and to the review). Allied to low expectations is the presumption of low capacity, thus forming a self-fulfilling prophecy. This, of course, only applies to others and not to self. Finding 18: A prevalence of push back from the school all the way to the Minister, (Thats too hard it cant be done.) Overt and covert resistance to work expectations was also evident to the review, both in external observations and in the conduct or work needed to complete the review. Reports of non-compliance were evident from school level to the completion of ministerial queries. The notion of push-back itself was expected throughout the system. If everyone pushes back often enough they can avoid responsibility and obviously the system cannot cope, further reinforcing its inefficiencies in the minds of those doing the pushing. Another cycle of avoidance and denial is thereby strengthened, with a personalized blaming and attendant white anting.