The paradox of autonomy and accountability: School inspection reform in China: In Symposium: A Glocal Look at Educational Leadership and Policy for Schools in Challenging Circumstances

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Abstract

I n China, school inspectors and school leaders are often caught in a paradox. Being an integrated part of the local education administration, school inspectors find it difficult to challenge the power and authority when assessing their superior’s performance of educational governance. For school leaders, they were given an increasing amount of autonomy on the one hand and were held fully accountable for all the school affairs by a rigid inspection system on the other hand. In response to these challenges, the Chinese Ministry of Education launched a reform in 2015 to re-adjust the relationships among the government, society and schools. The reform aimed to separate and regulate the roles of three key players, local authorities (educational administration), schools (education provision) and school inspection offices (education assessment). One major change is that school inspectors have been given a more professional and independent status and the purpose of inspection has been under the transformation from exerting top-down control to providing schoolbased professional support (Zhou, Kallo, Rinne, & Suominen, 2018). This presentation zooms into this new school inspection system and its impact on school leaders, inspectors and educational authorities. Based on the document analysis and expert interviews, we aim to answer four research questions. How does neoliberalism affect educational policy-making, and particularly, the school inspection policy in China? How have the relationships among educational authorities, inspection offices and schools evolved during the reform process? What kind of challenges do school inspectors, local authorities and school leaders face? How do these three key actors respond to these challenges in practice?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Conference on Educational Research (ECER)
Place of PublicationHamburg
Publication statusUnpublished - 3 Sep 2019

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