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Strategic planning and school management: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing? Centre for Educational Leadership and Management, School of Education, University of Leicester, Northampton, UK Keywords Strategic planning, Schools, Improvement, Leadership, Management Abstract Strategic planning, in the form of school improvement planning, has become the dominant approach to school management in English schools. This has evolved from earlier forms of strategic planning and has significant inherent weaknesses that undermine the extent to which school improvement planning can contribute to the effective management of schools. The development of school improvement planning is examined in this article and its weaknesses analysed. Implied models of school management and leadership, the legacy of school effectiveness and improvement research and the role of the school principal are considered. Based on this analysis, an alternative approach to planning in schools and to school organisation and a more flexible approach to school organisation and leadership is proposed that is grounded in a shorter planning time scale and the development of structures that facilitate involvement, cooperation and collaboration.
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Received February 2002 Revised April 2002 Accepted April 2002
Fair is foul and foul is fair (Macbeth, Act I, Scene I).
This article will develop a critique of one aspect of school management that has emerged in a large number of countries in a variety of different forms over the last two decades, namely strategic planning. It will deal largely with one approach to strategic planning, namely that found in schools in England. Strategic planning, in the context of English school management, has come to encapsulate a range of activities associated with planning that are now required of staff in schools. It is now embodied in current educational policy that departments, faculties, curriculum areas and even individuals in schools will be expected to derive their own plans from the overall strategic plan for their school (e.g. DfES, 2001). Such planning has come to be the main legitimate approach to planning and its use has become the most acceptable way for schools to prepare for their future. The key issue, therefore, is how far does it enable schools to be well managed or is strategic planning simply: . . . a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (Macbeth, Act V, Scene V).
In seeking to answer this question the concept of strategy which underpins strategic planning will be examined. The forms in which strategic planning has been adopted in schools in England will then be considered. The conceptual The author is grateful to Angela Bird, Penny Brown and Hugh Busher for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 40 No. 5, 2002, pp. 407-424. # MCB UP Limited, 0957-8234 DOI 10.1108/09578230210440276
Journal of Educational Administration 40,5 408
assumptions and the fallacies that underpin them will then be explored and the barriers to the implementation of strategic planning considered. It will then be established whether or not strategic planning can work in schools. The conclusion will suggest an alternative approach to planning that is not based on conflict, competition and hierarchical management. Strategy and strategic planning What bloody man is this? (Macbeth, Act I, Scene II).
In part, the answer to the question posed in the Introduction can be found embedded in the very concept of strategy itself. As Whipp (1998) points out, the term strategy has military origins and is derived from the Greek word for generalship. Its meaning evolved to encompass a coherent set of actions, the plan, usually concealed from the enemy, intended to...
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Wallace, M. (1994), ``Towards a contingency approach to development planning in schools ' ', in Hargreaves, D. and Hopkins, D. (Eds), Development Planning for School Improvement, Cassell, London, pp. 150-61. Wheatley, M. (1999), Leadership and the New Sciences, Berret-Koehler, San Francisco, CA. Whipp, R. (1998), ``Creative deconstruction, strategy and organisations ' ', paper presented at the ESRC Seminar Series. Redefining Educational Management, Cardiff. Zohar, D. (1997), Re-Wiring the Corporate Brain, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA. Further reading Bolam, R., McMahon, A. and Holly, P. (1984), Guidelines for Review and Internal Development in Schools: Secondary School Handbook, Longmans for the School Curriculum Development Committee, London. Bush, T., Bell, L., Bolam, R., Glatter, R. and Ribbins, P. (1999), (Eds), Educational Management, Redefining Theory, Policy and Practice, Paul Chapman Publishers, London. Clegg, D. and Billington, S. (1997), Leading Primary Schools, Open University Press, Buckingham. DfEE (1998), The National Literacy Strategy, The Stationery Office, London. DfEE (1998), The Implementation of the National Numeracy Strategy, The Stationery Office, London. Fidler, B. (1996), Strategic Planning for School Improvement, Pitman Publishing, London. Hargreaves, D. (1995), ``Self-managing schools and development planning-chaos or control? ' ', School Organisation, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 15-228. Hargreaves, D. and Hopkins, D. (Eds) (1994), Development Planning for School Improvement, Cassell, London. HMI (1978), Primary Education in England, A Survey by HM Inspectors of Schools, HMS, London. Hopkins, D., Harris, A., Singleton, C. and Watts, R. (2000), Creating the Conditions for Teaching and Learning, David Fulton Publishers, London. Welsh, P. (1999), ``Managing inclusion, the challenge of exclusion and truancy ' ', Management in Education, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 16-17. West-Burnham, J. (1994), ``Strategy, policy and planning ' ', in Bush, T. and West-Burnham, J. (Eds), Principles of Educational Management, Longman, Harlow, pp. 79-99.
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