Devolving authority: the impact of giving public schools power to hire staff

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Journal Article
Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 2017, 55 (2), pp. 255 - 274
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© 2016 Australian Human Resources Institute Governments in the western world are increasingly experimenting with education policies that devolve responsibility for hiring and staffing to the local school level. Driven by forces of neoliberalism, marketisation and decentralisation, such reforms differentially affect schools as a result of various geographic and socio-spatial factors. This article presents the findings of a recent study of public schools in the Australian state of New South Wales, and the impact that the government's Local schools, local decisions policy has had on staffing and hiring decisions within schools considered ‘hard-to-staff’. Drawing on interviews conducted with school principals and representatives of industrial bodies, this article reveals the differential and geographically diverse impact of devolutionary reform on ‘hard-to-staff’ schools. It posits that while the reforms facilitate the augmentation of staffing composition and enhanced decision-making flexibility, the interaction of the policy with existing staffing processes undermines the reform's potential.
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