Background – current context
There is an increasingly well documented global trend that those responsible for the delivery of education and children’s services have undergone an unprecedented period of challenge and change. In parts of Europe, North America, Australia and beyond a process of devolution of statutory duties is occurring whereby central government is increasingly relying on regional, local, community or school governance arrangements to deliver provincial, state and national priorities for school improvement outcomes for children. As a result;
- Local authority arrangements are taking over responsibilities from provincial, state and national governments
- Increasingly, educational and child welfare policy is becoming localised
- More and more schools are becoming part of networks and strategic alliances which go far beyond the immediate school environment
- School improvement is becoming an integral part of neighbourhood/municipal/regional developments
- The traditional construct of school is being replaced by the process of schooling within a model of lifelong learning which contributes to development of community cohesion and citizenship
Consequently, many city councils, municipalities and regional agencies appear to be questioning their current practices and relationships with schools and, through this process, are seeking to review their capacity for making a difference to the learning and life changes of children.
There are many examples globally of federal, provincial, state and community governance arrangements through which national education and child welfare policy imperatives are interpreted, mediated and delivered at local level.
Within all of these models there is one common feature, namely, a set of professional officers, administrators and advisers whose role it is to support the strategic and political determination of policy and subsequently, manage the delivery of that policy on behalf of the communities for whom they work.
The dilemma of collaboration
Traditionally, this group of practitioners, who are sometimes collectively referred to as “policymakers and administrators”, has often worked in isolation from the other elements of service provision. Given the context of change outlined above, this way of working is no longer appropriate or sustainable and, consequently, a new paradigm of collaboration is required between;
- Policymakers (at differentiated levels)
- Politicians (at differentiated levels)
- Practitioners – those managing administration, providing training, consultancy, guidance and advice to the delivery “system” in schools and in other strategic and operational networks and stakeholder organisations (e.g. child protection services, early years teams, youth engagement teams, sports and recreation services, health and children’s services, early years and day care agencies, mental health services, children with special needs, etc.).
As a result these respective groups will require new competencies, knowledge, skills and behaviours in areas such as: providing directions, leading and managing change, managing information, communicating and engaging effectively with children, youth, parents and care givers, managing networks and working with partners and stakeholders.
The question is – how can we work on building and sustaining the capacity of all those involved (the 3 P’s) in improving outcomes for children and young people? The key is to foster capacity building so that local educational and children’s services policy is developed in such a way that:
- It really stimulates and facilitates school improvement
- School improvement becomes integrated into the broader construct of community and lifelong learning and the notion of “giving more children the opportunity to develop optima forma” (viz. “it takes a village to raise a child”).
- Professional groups with different backgrounds (the 3 P’s) get to know each other, respect each other’s ambitions and concerns, understand each other’s day to day work and, though this interaction, develop a common culture which underpins the improvement of schools and other agencies involved.
The role of the ICSEI “3P network”
In order to meet the challenges set out above ICSEI has established the 3P network which will serve as a professional practice and research network for all those professionals engaged in the policy determination, planning and delivery of services to children and young people.
How it will work
It is intended that members of the 3P network will meet annually during the ICSEI conference. In between these meetings members of the network will aim to share practice through:
- “virtual” communication through video conferencing, skype, tweeting, newsletter, e-mail etc.
- Life encounters on an ad hoc basis (i.e. exchange meetings called occasionally to consider specific “hot issues” of the day)
- Joint conferences presentations outside of ICSEI
Thus, at its core, the 3P network will aim to provide opportunities for:
- Exchanging professional practice
- Reflecting on professional practice
- Developing a collective wisdom base
- Providing the impetus for research into local authority capacity building and collective impact.
It is hoped that this focus will serve to promote the professional development and competence of all staff working in the strategic management and operational delivery of education and children’s services at local authority level and, through this, increase the effectiveness of that sector of provision which sits between national, provincial, state governments and schools.
To register interest in joining the 3P network, please contact:
Erica van Roosmalen firstname.lastname@example.org or Naomi Mertens N.Mertens@aps.nl