Tuesday, 11 December 2012


An essay submitted by Andrew William Panton, M.A., Dip. Ed. as course work on the Diploma in Education Management course at Bristol Polytechnic 1973-74. 

What problems arise at the boundary of an educational institution? Suggest some strategies for managing these problems. 

Introduction: Open systems in a turbulent environment:

An educational institution is an open social system in that it maintains itself by an exchange of materials with its environment. Open systems are dependent on their environments, as they will survive and maintain themselves only so long as they import from their environment more energy than they expend in the process of transformation and exportation. 

In a past, in which educational organisations could largely take for granted that there was a consensus within the community at large for their structures, objectives, curricula and methods, it was perhaps possible for a headmaster or principal to treat his institution as a closed system, that is, he could manage the import-transformation-export of students cycle largely oblivious to the the environment of which his institution was but a small sub-system. Such a consensus no longer exists, and failure to appreciate the dependence of educational institutions on their environments will lead to serious consequences. As state schools are not subject to the profit-and-loss motive, they are therefore unlikely to disappear, but failure to take account of environmental factors will result at first in institutional ineffectiveness, and later in a radical transformation of characteristics, a process equivalent to the termination of the system. 

To be aware of the need to take account of the organisation's environment in the running of a school is not, however, a sufficient perspective on this matter, for, as Emery and Trist have shown, the environment in which the school is placed is itself in motion. They describe the modern organisational environment as 'a turbulent field', the major characteristics of which is an increase in the the area of 'relevant uncertainty' for organisations: -

'The consequences which flow from their actions lead off in ways which become increasingly unpredictable: they do not necessarily fall off with distance, but may at any point be amplified beyond all expectation; similarly, lines of action may find themselves attenuated by emergent field forces.' (Emery and Trist, 1965.)

Katx and Georgopoulos (1971) have identified four major changes in modern society which contribute to this 'turbulent field'. A break, at first gradual and now pronounced, with traditional authority and the growth of democratic ideology has affected radically the structures, objectives, curricula and authority base of schools. Economic growth and affluence has has led to a decline in the stress on the opportunity and production functions of education and a growth in the consumption function: education is something which people wish to enjoy in the here-and-now, and not just utilise for the sake of extrinsic goals. There has been a resultant change in the motive patters of students: Maslow's 'ego needs' are replacing 'biological needs' as the dominant modes of motivation, and with the need for self-expression goes the emphasis on spontaneity and the emotions so characteristic of emancipated youth. Finally, the accelerated rate of change makes the socialisation of the young increasingly difficult, since there is less and less agreement amongst the older generations as to the values, norms and role behaviours on which such socialisation is based. As education affects, and is affected by, everyone and everything, it is subject to changes in its environment on a variety of dimensions and at a host of different levels. The dynamic nature of our society and the pervasive effects of social change on education makes the problem of adaptation a critical one for schools and other educational institutions. 

The problem of boundary definition:

Although these problems of adaptation may not be immediately identified, they emerge initially at the boundary of the educational system. As open systems, schools have those problems of boundary definition described by Katz and Khan: -

'The first problem in understanding an organisation or a social system is its location and identification. How do we know that we are dealing with an organisation? What are its boundaries? What behaviour belongs to the organisation and what behaviour lies outside it? Who are the individuals whose actions are to be studied and what segments of their behaviour are to be included?' (Katz and Khan, 1966.)

If the headteacher is to manage effectively the problems that arise at the boundary of his school, he must grapple with these questions. As education is something which involves almost everyone in contemporary society, and, as it is a process which outside as well as inside educational institutions, answers to these questions are likely to be somewhat arbitrary. All the same, if the model of the school as an open system is to be a helpful one, practical definitions concerning its boundary with the environment must be reached. The most effective criterion by which a headteacher can decide what is within and what is without the boundary of the school's system is that of control. What degree of control does he have over particular groups of people, resources and activities? At the input stage of the system he exerts control over staff, students, objectives, money, time, space and other physical resources. At the transformation or process stage he plans, organises, leads and controls the activities of his school, while at the output stage he exerts his influence over the academic and social products of the system, and also attends to the maintenance of the organisation. All these matters he may consider as under his direction, and, therefore, within the boundaries of the system. 

However, the system has boundaries with its environment at both the input and output end of the cycle. At these boundaries the headteacher's control of the system is attenuated by the effects of internal groups or agencies over which he has either a slight or no control and which severely constrain his freedom of action. These environmental influences include the following: - parents, the teaching profession as a whole; the Department of Education & Science; HM Inspectorate of Schools; the Local Education Authority and its advisors; the Board of Governors or Managers; educational research organisations; educational publishers; parallel and related educational institutions; examination bodies; initial and in-service teacher organisations; political pressure groups; employers; trade unions; the Churches; the police and courts; welfare agencies; local clubs and societies; the press; radio and television.

The combined weight of all these external influences will bear very heavily on the system but, because the headteacher has no control over them, they can usefully be considered to be outside the boundary and therefore part of the environment of the system. These influences, however, interact with, and at certain places, break the boundary of the system, and, if the headmaster is to manage this boundary effectively, he must maintain it against the encroachments of this bewildering variety of external influences, all of which will involve him in different problems.

In managing the boundary of his school he will encounter problems that centre around the need to adapt the processes carried out within his school to the demand and needs of the environment. However, piecemeal adaptation will not be sufficient. Environmental instability and the present accelerated rate of change require that adaptive mechanisms are built into the organisational structure of the school, and that on-going strategies are adopted to accommodate the innovations that such adaptations will entail. Some of the problems that arise at the boundary of educational institutions will now be considered. 

Problems arising at the boundary of educational institutions;

The first essential step that a headteacher must take in the management of his school is to determine the aim or goals that he will set for it. This working out of objectives involves the school at once in problems at the boundary of the system. In the process of arriving at the school's objectives, the headmaster must decide whose influence is legitimate in this matter. As has been indicated, most British schools have been in many respects insulated from the views outside them, more particularly because their profit and loss account is struck on a basis other than financial. In addition, the norm of independence has restricted the influence of parents, even when parent-teacher associations exist. As a result of this long-standing tradition of independence, although greatly cherished by teachers, has its disadvantages as well. Firstly, it is very difficult for teachers to decide how to choose between the host of academic, moral, political, economic and selection functions ascribed to schools, and to determine the amount of emphasis to place on each area of objectives. As Musgrove and Taylor (1969) have pointed out, 'The teacher's freedom is also his dilemma'. Indeed, the problems of deciding on objectives is so great that many teachers may feel unqualified to make the necessary philosophical judgements. A second weakness that stems from teachers' independence is the resultant failure of schools to take due account of their environment. The consequences of this failure have already been discussed in general terms, but suffice it to add here that the failure to utilise, or at least to neutralise, field forces leads to a situation in which schools will be permanently underpowered in relation to the goals they seek to achieve. To utilise their environment and to acquire much necessary energic input from it, schools should consult outside groups over the question of objectives. Some educational institutions already have their objectives determined to a great degree in this way: polytechnics and colleges of further education provide courses very much on the demand of of employers and other user-agencies. The supply and demand motive is not so applicable to schools, and few schoolteachers would accept that industry should have much say in the objectives of schools. However, the objectives of schools are coloured by a variety of other external influences that impinge on the school system from outside its boundary. The curricula, syllabuses and, indirectly, the teaching methods of secondary schools are to  great extent determined by examining boards. Teaching methods in school are influenced by the productions of educational publishers and development organisations such as the Schools Council and the Nuffield Foundation, and by local educational authorities, which are able to provide extra money to schools for the purposes of curriculum innovations sanctioned by their advisors. The objectives of schools are also inevitably affected by the work of related educational institutions; for instance, secondary schools must take into account both the curricula and methods of local primary schools, and, at the other end of the scale, the entrance requirements of universities and polytechnics. It is clear, therefore, that the independence of schools is in fact attenuated by many traditional influences. A headteacher and his staff must decide how far such influences on the school's objectives are acceptable. They must further decide what weighting to ascribe to each outside source of legitimate influence in order that conflicts may be settled. All these problems concern sources of influence external to the school.

Another problem, which is directly related to the need to determine educational objectives and which also involves external groups or organisations, is that of  evaluation. Katz and Khan have described the importance of evaluation or feedback from the filed to the maintenance of a system:

'The feedback principle has to do with information input, which is a special kind of energic importation, a kind of signal to the system about environmental conditions and about the  functioning of the system in relation to the environment. The feedback of such information consists enables the system to correct for its own malfunctioning or for changes in the environment, and thus to maintain a steady state or homeostasis.' (Katz and Khan, 1966.)

 External feedback is therefore vital to an educational institution if it is to take the corrective action necessary to keep it on its course. Barry and Tye (1972) have written that ' ... a school should make the maximum use of its external relationships in order to furnish additional evidence for an assessment of its own progress, achievements and shortcomings'. The problem of evaluation is, of course, part and parcel of the objective problem, for to be effective as control devices objectives must be based on appropriate criteria. In this sense, then, objectives are inseparable from the predetermined criteria on which is based the organisation's assessment of whether or not the objectives have been achieved.  The problem of quantifying educational objectives is particularly difficult, and the need for evaluation from the field is a further complication. The headmaster must not only decide to whom he should go for such feedback, but also how the information is to be gathered and over what time scale it should be based. So daunting are these problems that few schools attempt to carry out such an evaluation programme. Nevertheless, it is doubtful that schools can afford to shirk this task indefinitely.

One group whose wishes and views a school usually wishes to consult is parents. Indeed, the question of teacher-parent relations is one of the most important problems that arise at the boundary of school systems. Until recently, it was the accepted policy and practice of both parents and schools that children should be placed in the custody of schools, where they would be educated by schoolmasters who were in a position of almost unchallenged dominance, and who were free to prescribe not only academic courses but dress and conduct, and even social attitudes, standards and values. Much of this omnipotence was based on the belief that what happened at school was the most important mediating factor between a child and the realisation of his potential. Recently, however, research has clearly indicated that the earliest years in a child's development are of primary importance. Evidence has also accumulated in recent years (e.g. 'The Home and the School', J.W.B.Douglas, 1964) to show that the attitudes of parents towards their children's education is one of the factors most closely associated with the relative school achievement of pupils. Among the attitudes which such studies show to be most important are parents' aspirations for their children's education, as indicated by the type and length of formal education they desire for their children, and their interest in their children's education, often assessed by the number of their visits to the school. Communication between schools and parents is vital if the former are to succeed in harnessing this most potent source of environmental power. Furthermore, as Hoyle (1969) remarks, 'It is as parents of school-age children that the public has the greatest potentiality for interaction with teachers ... '. However, arrangements for teacher-parent communication are bedevilled by problems of social class and role relationships. The social class distinctions between the parents of the individual children whom a school serves and its teachers may render ineffective any regular arrangements that the school makes to meet and communicate with parents. Open days, parents' evenings, and meetings of parent-teachers associations are all more likely to be attended by middle class parents. According to the Plowden Report, 20 per cent of non-manual working class parents had been to meetings of parent-teacher associations as opposed to only 5 per cent of manual workers. The 'social distance of teachers, and the unpleasant associations that schools have for many working class parents, lead to a lack of self-confidence, which is often increased by the presence at meetings of the more articulate and socially assured middle class parents. This lack of self-confidence is one cause of the ignorance about schools and the apparent lack of interest in the progress of their children displayed by many working class parents. Yet, it is probably these parents that schools most need to attract, and the problems of communication with parents must be overcome if the impact of schools on all children is to be as effective as it could be. Another source of difficulty  that arises between teachers and parents is in the area of role relationships:

'The role relationship between parent and teacher on the occasions when they interact is a delicate one and often fraught with ambivalence and potential conflict. The aim of the teacher in such exchanges is to enlist the aid of the parent in supporting his objectives, but this aim is often difficult to achieve because parental conceptions of the teacher's role will vary with such factors as social class and the ability of the child, and the teacher can depend upon little consensus about what he is trying to achieve.' (Hoyle, 1969.)

In consequence teachers often find contact with parents frustrating, and the researches of Musgrove and Taylor (1965) found that teachers perceive a high degree of conflict between their view of the school's aims and views of parents. Musgrove and Taylor comment that 'on the whole teachers take an unflattering view of parents'. This situation is almost certainly the result of the unsatisfactory level of communication at present existing between teachers and parents, and improvements are urgently required here.

Parents are perhaps the most significant environmental force which schools should utilise. Also important, however, are the boards of school governors, or managers, and the local education authorities, which represent the interests of the parents, and to whom schools are responsible. Some headmasters try to operate with the minimum of contact with these bodies. Such a policy is unwise, as it is but another example of the tendency of schools not to utilise their environments. Governors and local councillors are often influential members of the local community, and can be powerful allies of a school in its endeavours to project itself and gain support for its aims. A productive relationship with the officers and advisors of the Local Education Department is essential if a school is to obtain the maximum financial backing. Yet, these relations with public representatives and officials, though important, will involve the headteacher in many problems. He must decide how best to utilise his governors and how he may establish the most effective relations with the Local Education Department, and to do this he may find himself wading in waters which have been muddied by political debates on the structure of schools, debates which he may feel to be educationally irrelevant but which inextricably involve the future of his school.

Relations with other educational institutions and examining bodies are another area of problems which occur at the boundary of the school system. As regards other educational institutions in the neighbourhood, the 'most important question to ask is to what extent a particular school fits into the total educational provision in its immediate area'. (Barry and Tye, 1972). Input problems are likely to be particularly severe. The number of primary schools contributing to a secondary school can be very large, and in major cities may be as many as fifty. The variety of approach between primary schools as regards curricula and methods may be very wide: some children will have studies modern mathematics, and some primary French, while others may have learned in open-planned buildings or in circumstances where self-expression was particularly encouraged. The contrasting approaches of primary schools cause input situations of bewildering complexity for the secondary schools into which they feed pupils. At the output end of the secondary school system serious boundary problems also occur. At present, it is common to find unregulated duplication of courses, and even competition between schools and colleges of further education. Such a situation is wasteful and unwise, for in an increasingly turbulent environment educational institutions need to work together if they are to survive. To achieve maximum impact a secondary school must decide how it can most appropriately expend its energies and resources. Co-operation, rather than competition, with colleges of further education is likely to be more fruitful. One example of such co-operation is at Banbury, where the sixth form of Banbury (Comprehensive) School has combined with the North Oxfordshire Technical College to form a Centre for Advanced Studies. Such co-operation, however, can lead to problems of role tension and interlocking timetables which may be greater than the ones solved originally. Examining bodies and universities also produce constraints on the output of schools. The syllabuses and the types of questions set by examining bodies largely prescribe the curricula and teaching methods available to the upper and middle sections of secondary schools, while university entrance requirements predetermine the combination of 'A' levels that sixth formers can study. Teachers often complain bitterly about these restrictions that are imposed upon them, but tend nevertheless to  accept them in practice, when perhaps they should more often dispute the legitimacy of such constraints and consider whether or not they can be lifted or alleviated.

Relations between schools and the various categories of educational 'experts' also imply boundary problems.  There are several groups of professionals beyond the school, apart from administrators, who are professionally concerned with school education. Among these are school inspectors, local education department advisors, college of education lecturers and educational researchers. It would not be an exaggeration to say that most schools are extraordinarily poor at utilising the powerful inputs available from these sources. There is a strong tendency for practising schoolteachers to view with suspicion, if not with downright hostility, the advice of 'educational 'experts' who are not currently engaged in the same work as themselves. In particular, teachers are very little influenced  by educational research, and place little value upon it. There is an abundance of evidence to suggest that, in the learning process, sight is a more important sense than sound; that praise is a more effective motivator of pupils than blame; and that knowledge of results is most valuable if it is given immediately after a piece of work. Yet from the evidence of their classroom practice, many teachers remain impervious to these findings. Such disregard is a problem that must be met and overcome, for schools just cannot afford to ignore those who may have important insights into their difficulties. How to cope with the wealth of relevant information and advice available from the environment is one problem that is directly related to educational 'experts'. Another is the whole question of innovation: who should influence it, and how should it be managed? Whatever strategy of change is adopted, it will almost certainly involve contact with someone external to the school, and, consequently, a temporary breach of the system's boundaries.

The final boundary problem to be considered here - although there are many others that one might consider - concerns the recruitment and subsequent induction of new staff. Teachers are perhaps the most important input into the school from its environment, and in a sense the school is on trial when a staff vacancy occurs. In a locality much relative information about individual schools is passed around the informal network of the teaching profession, and this information tends to ensure that the schools most highly regarded within the profession have the pick of available teachers from which to fill their vacancies. In addition, the manner in which selection procedures are undertaken is another way in which schools are evaluated by teaching e of the team. . Apart from the public relations aspect of the task, recruitment is a boundary problem of considerable importance from another angle, for it is vital that the selection procedure pinpoint not just the most highly qualified applicant but the one whose attitudes and past experience most fit him to fill the vacancy. Once he  has been recruited, the new member of staff must be inducted into the system in order that he becomes as quickly as possible a fully committed and fully contributing member of the team. Staff selection and induction are therefore important aspects of the internal maintenance of the system. The more important the post to be filled, and especially in the case of the headteacher, the more vulnerable is the school system to the consequences of faulty selection procedures. It is vital that the appropriate people - be they governors or staff - are consulted in an appropriate manner, and that the greatest care is taken over the whole process. A problem ancillary to that of staff selection and induction is that of student teachers working in the school as a part of teacher training courses.In the past, schools have sometimes seen the need to accommodate such students as an unwelcome intrusion into the system, but as it is likely that the responsibilities of schools in this direction may well increase in the future, headteachers need to give careful attention to the handling of trainees. The image of the school within the profession is once more at stake in this matter. The problems of staff induction and student teachers at Nailsea School, near Bristol, are sensitively portrayed by Elizabeth Richardson (1973), and together with the recruitment of staff are boundary problems to which the school must give its attention.

A variety of problems that arise at the boundary of educational institutions have now been discussed. All involve forces beyond the direct control of the school and the headteacher, and the number of them and the crucial nature of most of them indicate the impossibility of running the school as a closed system. Furthermore, the turbulent nature of the environment within which all educational institutions have to exist today serves to increase the complexity of these boundary problems. Next to be considered are ways of  approaching some of these problems.

Strategies for managing boundary problems.

The number of boundary problems facing a school is clearly enormous, and no attempt will be made here to suggest coping strategies that relate to all of them. The issues of objectives, evaluation from the field, communication with parents, and the use of educational experts will however now be specifically discussed.

The need to consult groups in the environment about school objectives has already been established. Such consultations can only be effective, however, in circumstances where a school has made a vigorous and concerted attempt to achieve a liaison with those whose influence the school considers legitimate, and to present and explain the school's practice and philosophy to those parties with a stake in the objectives to be set. Parents have the most immediate interest in the school's philosophy and practice, and more particularly in the arrangements made for the welfare of children. It is essential therefore that parents are consulted about the aims and objectives of schools, both at meetings and perhaps through the medium of questionnaires. The balance of responsibilities between school and home for moral education, social training, and citizenship knowledge should be worked out, and the school's objectives in these areas made clear to both teachers and parents. It is particularly important that on such thorny issues as dress, discipline, smoking, and sex education there should be as wide an area of agreement as possible on the approach to be adopted by the school. A liaison with the members of the governing body should also be developed in such a way that they are also concerned about objectives. Governors should be encouraged to visit the school, where senior members of staff could explain to them the current practices and indicate some of the problems. The advice of local education authority officials and advisors should also be sought on occasions, and a dialogue set up that would enable the aims, problems, successes and failures of the school to be better appreciated at 'County Hall'. Some liaison with local employers might also be desirable, but such liaison must be as systematic as possible if it is to contribute meaningfully to the objective debate. The expectations and wishes of employers could be sought out both through the agency of the Careers Advisory Service of the Local Education Authority, and directly by the school through the work of a teacher, one of whose functions might be to visit the larger local employers and interview them on the question of how they think that children can best be prepared at school for adult work.

Directly related to the objectives issue is the need for evaluation of the school's performance. Much of this evaluation can be obtained from within the school system, but, to the extent that the views of external groups have been considered appropriate in the process of determining objectives, evaluation from the field will be necessary. An evaluation of the school by parents is important to obtain, particularly as regards those areas mentioned in the previous paragraph as being of special interest to them. Questionnaires designed to elicit their views could be sent out either during, or at the end of, each school year. As important as the views of parents are the views of former pupils. After all, a school exists for its pupils, and its objectives are therefore most appropriately phrased and assessed in terms of pupil behaviour. During their time at school, pupils can be assessed directly by the school. However, many of the school's objectives are long-term and do not necessarily fall off when a pupil completes his schooling. The performance of former pupils, their values and opinions can also provide the school with important feedback to use in gauging how far the objectives of the school are being met. The difficulties of obtaining such feedback are enormous, but are well worth the effort required. A maximum time scale of probably three years after leaving should be adopted for most pupils. This would enable the school to obtain some definite information about the post-school employment of pupils, and the results of those pupils who proceed to institutions of higher education after leaving school. The records of the Careers Advisory Service could be utilised to determine the kind of jobs ex-pupils were finding, and against such information the school could measure it success in arousing interests and vocational purpose, and also its success in encouraging pupils to make the most of their individual abilities. In addition, the nature of first jobs obtained, and the ease with which school leavers are placed in jobs, will reveal much about how certain objectives of the school are being achieved. Questionnaires might be devised to be sent out to pupils at some point, say three years after they have left school, to test how well the affective objectives of the school were  being achieved. The questionnaire might include questions designed to assess what former pupils had found most valuable and least valuable during their time at the school. At the same time, the Careers Advisory Service might undertake surveys of employers concerning recent intakes of employees, and from these data of use to schools might emerge. Special arrangements for former pupils studying at universities and other places of higher education would be needed. A questionnaire that sought to elicit students' opinions on how well the school had prepared them for advanced academic courses should be devised, in addition to one that tested objectives in the affective domain. Schools might also seek relevant information from university tutors, and should keep a record of the degrees and other academic results of its former pupils. A field evaluation programme that extended over three years would be about appropriate, as it would provide enough time to enable former pupils to see their school career in the perspective of the outside world, while the time scale would be short enough to ensure that their recollections of school were still sufficiently sharp for the purpose. The evaluation procedures suggested above would clearly be very difficult to administer: they would be expensive and time-consuming, and would require considerable clerical support. The design of the appropriate criteria would be difficult, and the return rate of questionnaires might be disappointingly low. Indeed, it has been asserted, with regard to such evaluation from the field, that ' ... such information cannot be assembled regularly or systematically. It will arise, rather by accident than by design, from informal conversations and casual contacts' (Barry and Tye, 1972). If this statement is accepted, however, it is difficult to see that objectives have any value to the school beyond providing those convenient window-dressing platitudes that are faithfully trotted out in school prospectuses and open-day speeches. For, to be effective as a means of controlling the management of the school, objectives must be expressed in measurable terms, and, if the measurement is not to provide a distorted picture, it must be based on information which is indeed regularly and systematically collected. To assess how well all its objectives are being achieved, and incidentally to provide data for the position audit required for the clarification of objectives, the types of evaluation from the field described above are a prerequisite.

The many problems created by the need for communication between school and parents have already been mentioned, as has the desirability of involving parents in the processes of setting objectives and gathering feedback. However, the whole task of teacher-parent communication requires a number of new approaches, if schools are to obtain from parents the support so important to the learning process. It is not sufficient for teachers just to explain their aims and methods to parents; it is also necessary that schools should try to stimulate and encourage parental response and initiative in the creation of a genuine working partnership between teachers and parents. In particular, parents should be encouraged to assess both their children and the school, and, by joining in debates on the objectives of the school, to identify as much as possible with its aims. Such a level of parental involvement would be difficult to attain in view of the different attitudes and social class background of parents, but almost any improvement in this area would be desirable. To achieve improvement teachers would need to recognise the value of communication with parents and to review their contacts with parents. Do present contacts work? Is the situation irremediable? All these questions need to be asked. The formal parents' evenings, open days and school reports are insufficient means of communication, and new methods need to be developed. One way in which parent-teacher communication could be improved would be for teachers to develop more intimate and less formal relationships with parents. Parent-teacher associations at their best are organised ways of stimulating real cooperation, and at their worst still have something to offer. Home visits are another strategy worth pursuing in cases where parents never or rarely visit the school themselves. On their own ground and in relatively informal circumstances, parents tend to talk more freely about their children and the aspirations they have for them. For many parents, such home visits would be more appropriate than addresses at meetings of PTAs, for what most of therm want is effective communication with individual teachers about their individual children, rather than to acquire a general understanding of modern methods of teaching or school organisation. In their conversations with parents, teachers should be prepared to talk 'with' and not 'just at' parents, and in their dealings with children should remember and take due account of the parents' point of view, for much of a teacher's work is wasted, if parents are hostile, indifferent or puzzled. If teachers were to make serious attempts to develop closer relationships with parents, a new dimension would be added to their task that would involve both a revision in their use of time and an addition to the content of their professional training. In view of the diversity already in the teacher's role, and the conflict to which it gives rise, additions to the role should only be contemplated with caution, but, in view of the demonstrated influence which parental attitudes have on teachers' effectiveness, such an addition might be warranted in this case. An increase in teacher-parent communication would do much to clear away the cobwebs of misperceptions that exist on both sides. Musgrove and Taylor's researches (1965) found that parental views on the aims of schooling were much more congruent with those of teachers than the latter had supposed, and they comment that 'the area of (unnecessary) tension might be considerably reduced, if parents and teachers established more effective means of communication'. In secondary schools such communication could be organised under the supervision of heads of year groups or heads of houses, depending on whether the pastoral organisation of the school followed a horizontal or vertical structure, with individual form masters or tutor group teachers, taking the responsibility for direct contact with parents. One proviso needs to be made however.The aims of such communication should be confined to assistance in the learning process. Temptations to widen the scope of pastoral activity to take in social work per se would not only be a transgression into the preserves of others more qualified for such work, but would also attenuate the capacity of schools to fulfil their basic educational functions. The line to be drawn between social and educational responsibilities is bound to be an arbitrary one, but it needs to be drawn all the same.

The final topic to be considered under this heading is that of how communication between practising teachers and the various educational specialists can be improved, in order that that the insights and ideas of the latter can be utilised effectively within the classroom walls. The first way in which educational specialists can help the schools is in the area of staff development and in-service training. Part-time courses, held at colleges and university schools of education and organised by the area training organisations, to disseminate news of research findings, curriculum projects, and new teaching aids and methods could perhaps be more effectively utilised than they are at present. If such courses could be held at teachers' centres, where practical assistance could be offered prior to, or simultaneously with, the fostering of new ideas, such ideas might be received the more readily by practising teachers. Such courses and assistance would from a valuable part of the in-service training task of schools which has been so neglected in the past, although in-service training should probably begin in the schools themselves under the aegis of respective heads of department. A more enlightened response to educational research should also be required of teachers. The attitude of the headteacher towards research is of considerable importance. Johnson (1965) found that there was a high correlation between the attitudes of the headteacher to research and those of his staff. Although the headteacher might appoint a senior member of staff to have responsibility for in-service training, each department should be expected to make arrangements to see that its teachers are kept in touch with news from professional journals and publications. To ensure access to relevant information, some provision for a staff room library would also seem essential. The second area, in which the the knowledge and expertise of educational experts can be put to good use by schools, is in the field of innovation. Teachers have to decide to whose advice they should go when changes are contemplated, and how such changes should be managed. Regular contact with school inspectors and LEA advisors will no doubt yield a good crop of suggestions. College of education lecturers, by virtue of their visits to many different schools, acquire a first-hand knowledge of the problems schools face, and their ideas and judgements are clearly of much value. Once again, however, it seems that the development of professional centres for teachers offers the most exciting possibilities. Such centres, provided by the local authorities, could act as agencies for change between inventors and users, and could carry out many necessary services with regard to the management of innovation. They could act as as resource and information centres, providing liaison between colleges of education and schools, and generally creating an awareness of new developments in educational practice. The staff at the centres could continue support for for development projects after the research, development and dissemination teams had finished their work, and could also act as 'change agents', assisting as collaborators in the process of innovation after initial approaches from schools. Finally, in assisting schools with the in-service training of teachers, professional centres could provide the necessary link with innovative activities, while ensuring that the focus of training was directed towards the functioning group. Used in these ways, professional centres could combine into an amalgam the best aspects of the research, development and dissemination, the social interaction, and the problem solving strategies of innovation, described by Havelock (1970), and provide the kind of flexibly structured approach that he advocates. Appropriately staffed, professional centres are potentially, therefore, an excellent medium through which the work of the various educational specialists can infiltrate into the teaching profession as a whole. They can also, incidentally, provide meeting places for teachers that might facilitate the much needed liaison between teachers from the different sectors of education, and become centres for such things as cooperative curriculum development and resource-based learning projects, thereby encouraging teachers to play a greater part in such activities. In these ways it is evident that professional centres for teachers can contribute towards solutions to those other boundary problems which it has not been possible to suggest here.


All the strategies that can be put forward to help resolve the boundary problems of educational institutions have one characteristic in common: they demand a radical change of attitude on the part of teachers. At present, the majority of teachers are non-theoretical, are uncommitted to educational objectives, evaluate their work subjectively, value autonomy very highly, and derive their job-satisfaction from personal relationships with their pupils. In short, they are very largely orientated to factors internal to the classroom and the school, and adopt a mainly intuitive approach to their professional work. However, if schools are to combat successfully the host of problems that arise at their boundaries, it is vital that teachers move from this restricted concept of professionality to a more externally orientated approach, and be both ready and willing to work with, rather than against and in ignorance of, the many environmental forces that surround them. Such an extended concept of professionality would require a concern for objectives and evaluation, a commitment towards more effective teacher-parent relationships, a readiness to take account of educational innovations and research findings, and a greater degree of liaison and cooperation between teachers from different institutions. For only by this outward-looking approach, essential in a rapidly changing world, can educational institutions generate that level of effectiveness which society has a right to demand of them.


C.H. Barry and F.Tye                   'Running a School', Temple Smith

F.E.Emery and E.L.Trist            'The Causal Texture of the Environment' in 'The Management of Change
                                                      and Conflict, Penguin.

R.G.Havelock                             'A Guide to Innovation in Education', University of Michigan, Ann Arbour

E.Hoyle                                        'The Role of the Teacher', Routledge and Kegan Paul.

M.E.B.Johnson                             'Teachers' attitude to educational research' in Edic. Res. Vo. 9, 1966.

G.Katz and R.L.Khan            'Common Characteristics of Open Systems' in 'Systems Thinking',

A.Morrison and D.McIntyre          'Teachers and Teaching', Penguin.

P.W.Musgrove                              'The School as an Organisation', Macmillan.
F.Musgrove and P.H.Taylor           'Teachers' and Parents' Conception of the Teacher's Role', in Br. J. of      
                                                      Educ. Psychology, Vol. 35, 1965.

F.Musgrove and P.H.Taylor        'Society and the Teacher's Role', Routledge and Kegan Paul.

E.Richardson                        The Teacher, the School, and the Task of Management, Heinemann.


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