Innovative designs for enhancing achievement in schools: the Western Australian experience
Australian Council for Educational Leaders
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education/Fogarty Learning Centre
Research into the impact of educational leadership on student learning has abounded in the previous decade. One of the programs designed to impact on student learning that has been developed and implemented nationally and internationally is the Innovative Designs for Enhancing Achievements in Schools (IDEAS) program, from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). In 2006 a number of schools in Western Australia entered the IDEAS program and this article discusses the experiences of seven senior high schools from the perspective of three research questions. Briefly, these research questions, which form the basis of this article, were concerned with potential benefits arising from participation in the IDEAS program; reasons for differences in program effectiveness; and, identification of pre-conditions required prior to program implementation. The article commences with a section examining the actual IDEAS program, prior to a review of the literature regarding the roles of school leaders in influencing student outcomes. The research design, including ethical considerations, is then considered, followed by a substantial section discussing the research findings. Essentially, the data suggested that the IDEAS program is effective in school revitalisation, and its impact on student learning, particularly through improvements in teaching and learning processes. However, participants did note some concerns about time pressures and understanding the change process. A number of other benefits for schools, communities, teachers and students were also identified. Conditions necessary for the effective use of IDEAS were discussed by the participants and related to leadership, support and understanding that the IDEAS process is long-term. Finally, the interviewees outlined a number of pre-conditions for effective implementation of the program including purpose and desire, leadership support, understanding the process and school community involvement.