The structure of any government department should indicate what that department does. From the above evidence, it seems clear that Governments carry a heavy responsibility for providing compulsory education and that the name of its department should overtly state that it is a Department of Compulsory Schooling. Its primary focus is to handle the schools of those forced to attend and it should say so. Use of terms like ‘education’, ‘training’, ‘vocation’ doesn’t mean anything except vastness.
Since schooling is divided into two parts…Primary and Secondary – each should have a net work of staffing and appointments, regional units, curriculum requirements, building design, resources, personnel, publications and finances within these two sections. The organisational structure for each should be drawn from the school situation upwards, so they might vary in their paradigmatic appearance. Telephone books, email addresses and websites will be clear as to who can handle enquiries and suggestions within these units, but each sub-section is clearly responsible to the directors of both Primary and Secondary Divisions who operate in a triad with a Director-General whose vast school experience places this position in the hands of a properly qualified entrepreneur. In turn, this triad is in constant contact with the Minister. That’s the basic structure at the top in any worthwhile responsible system. Schooling is too important to be tinkered with by anything different. It is essential that it has a thoroughly school-based administrative design.
Australia operates under the Westminster system of governance and the ultimate responsibility for the quality of the service lies with a Minister of the Crown. This person usually comes from any field of endeavour and the appointment is party political. Such a circumstance can give rise to the ‘political control’ dilemma. It can’t be helped. That’s the kind of system that exists. Things become shambolised when a hard-nosed, buz-baz minister works with feckless internal leadership. The consequences can be grossly dysfunctional for schools, and the country.
It cannot be pretended that this has not happened in the past. The monograph: Phil Cullen Back to Drastics : Education, Politics and Bureaucracy in Queensland 1975-1988, Memoirs of an Advocate , [University of Southern Queensland, 2006] illustrates what happens when an education system is overwhelmed by lobbyists. Desultoriness sets in. Misology takes over.
This century, with its crucial need for high levels of learnacy, demands a return to firm identification and qualified manning of its organizational base.