Advertisement

What is quality education? How can it be achieved? The perspectives of school middle leaders in Singapore

  • Pak Tee Ng
Article

Abstract

This paper presents the findings of a research project that examines how middle leaders in Singapore schools understand ‘quality education’ and how they think quality education can be achieved. From the perspective of these middle leaders, quality education emphasises holistic development, equips students with the knowledge and skills for the future, inculcates students with the right values and imbues students with a positive learning attitude. Quality education is delivered by good teachers, enabled by good teaching and learning processes and facilitated by a conducive learning environment. The challenge of achieving quality education is to find the balance between lofty ideals and ground realities. One critical implication of the research findings is that policymakers should appeal to the ideals of practitioners to drive change.

Keywords

Singapore School leadership Middle leaders Quality education Teachers Curriculum Pedagogy Learning environment Change 

References

  1. Adams, D. (1993). Defining educational quality. improving educational quality project publication no. 1: biennial report. Arlington: Institute for International Research.Google Scholar
  2. Ball, S. J. (2003). The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity. Journal of Education Policy, 18(2), 215–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barbera, E. (2004). Quality in virtual education environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 35(1), 13–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnett, R. (2012). Learning for an unknown future. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(1), 65–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barretta, A. M. (2011). A millennium learning goal for education post‐2015: a question of outcomes or processes. Comparative Education, 47(1), 119–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barrett, A. M., & Tikly, L. (2011). Social justice, capabilities and the quality of education in low income countries. International Journal of Educational Development, 31(1), 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barrett, A. M., Chawla-Duggan, R., Lowe, J., Nikel, J., & Ukpo, E. (2006). The concept of quality in education: review of the ‘international’ literature on the concept of quality in education working paper no. 3. Bristol: EduQual.Google Scholar
  8. Beeby, C. E. (1966). The quality of education in developing countries. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Benavot, A. (2012). Policies toward quality education and student learning: constructing a critical perspective. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 25(1), 67–77.Google Scholar
  10. Bentley, T. (2006). Can we be more creative in thinking about how to scale up educational innovation? Journal of Educational Change, 7(4), 339–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown, P., & Tannock, S. (2009). Education, meritocracy and the global war for talent. Journal of Education Policy, 24(4), 377–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chenail, R. J., 1995. Presenting Qualitative Data. The Qualitative Report, 2 (3), http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR2-3/presenting.html, January 1, 2008.
  13. Chua, J. S. M. (2009). Saving the teacher’s soul: exorcising the terrors of performativity. London Review of Education, 7(2), 159–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Constas, M. A. (1992). Qualitative analysis as a public event: the documentation of category development procedures. American Educational Research Journal, 29(2), 253–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crossley, M. (1999). Reconceptualising comparative and international education. Compare, 29(3), 249–267.Google Scholar
  16. Crossley, M. (2000). Bridging cultures and traditions in the reconceptualisation of comparative and international education. Comparative Education, 36(3), 319–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Delors, J., et al. (1996). Learning: the treasure within. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  18. Drucker, P. F. (1993). Post-capitalist society. New York: Harper Business.Google Scholar
  19. Drucker, P. F. (2000). Knowledge work. Executive Excellence, 17(4), 11–12.Google Scholar
  20. Florida, R. (2005). The flight of the creative class. New York: Harper Business.Google Scholar
  21. Goddard, R. D., Hoy, W. K., & Hoy, A. W. (2000). Collective teacher efficacy: its meaning, measure, and impact on student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 37(2), 479–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gunter, H., & Rutherford, D. (2000). Professional development for subject leaders: needs, training and impact. Management in Education, 14(1), 28–30.Google Scholar
  23. Hallinger, P. (2011). Leadership for learning: lessons from 40 years of empirical research. Journal of Educational Administration, 49(2), 25–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: the inspiring future for educational change. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
  25. Harris, A. (2011). Distributed leadership: current evidence and future directions. Journal of Management Development, 30(10), 20–32.Google Scholar
  26. Heng, S. K., 2012. Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at the MOE Work Plan Seminar 2012, at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Centre, Singapore, 12 September, http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2012/09/12/keynote-address-by-mr-heng-swee-keat-at-wps-2012.php, June 4, 2013.
  27. Heng, S. K., 2014. Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at the MOE Work Plan Seminar 2014, at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Centre, Singapore, 23 September, http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2014/09/23/keynote-address-by-mr-heng-swee-keat-at-the-ministry-of-education-work-plan-seminar-2014.php, September 23, 2014.
  28. Hoffman, D. M. (1999). Culture and comparative education: toward decentering and recentering the discourse. Comparative Education Review, 43(4), 464–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. IIEP-UNESCO. (2011). External quality assurance: options for higher education managers. module 4 understanding and assessing quality. Paris: International Institute of Educational Planning (UNESCO).Google Scholar
  30. Irons, E. J., & Harris, S. (2006). The challenges of no child left behind: understanding the issues of excellence, accountability, and choice. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Education.Google Scholar
  31. James, M., & Pollard, A. (2011). TLRP’s ten principles for effective pedagogy: rationale, development, evidence, argument and impact. Research Papers in Education, 26(3), 275–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Klees, S. J. (2002). World bank education policy: new rhetoric, old ideology. International Journal of Educational Development, 22(5), 451–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lee, H. L., 2010. Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Pre-University Seminar, at the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore, 1 June, http://www.pmo.gov.sg/content/pmosite/mediacentre/speechesninterviews/primeminister/2010/June/speech_by_mr_leehsienloongprimeministeratthepre-universitysemina.html#.VHqOxyEZ5eU, June 1, 2014
  34. Leithwood, K., Patten, S., & Jantzi, D. (2010). Testing a conception of how school leadership influences student learning. Educational Administration Quarterly, 46(5), 671–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. MacNeil, A. J., Prater, D. L., & Busch, S. (2009). The effects of school culture and climate on student achievement. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 12(1), 73–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Martin, A. J. (2008). Enhancing student motivation and engagement: the effects of a multidimensional intervention. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 33(2), 239–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ng, P. T. (2003). The Singapore school and the school excellence model. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 2(1), 27–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ng, P. T. (2008a). Educational reform in Singapore: from quantity to quality. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 7(1), 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ng, P. T. (2008b). Quality assurance in the Singapore education system: phases and paradoxes. Quality Assurance in Education, 16(2), 112–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ng, P. T. (2010). The evolution and nature of school accountability in the Singapore education system. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 22(4), 275–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ng, P. T. (2013a). An examination of school accountability from the perspectives of school leaders in Singapore. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 12(2), 121–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ng, P. T. (2013b). An examination of lifelong learning policy rhetoric and practice in Singapore. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 32(3), 318–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Norman, A. D. (2010). Assessing accomplished teaching: good strides, great challenges. Theory Into Practice, 49(3), 203–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Perry, T., Moses, R. P., Cortes, E., Jr., Delpit, L., & Wynne, J. T. (2010). Quality education as a constitutional right: creating a grassroots movement to transform public schools. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  45. Pintrich, P. R., & Schunk, D. H. (2002). Motivation in education: theory research, and applications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  46. Priestley, M., Edwards, R., Priestley, A., & Miller, K. (2012). Teacher agency in curriculum making: agents of change and spaces for manoeuvre. Curriculum Inquiry, 42(2), 191–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Reich, R. (1991). The work of nations. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  48. Richardson, J. (2009). ‘Quality Education Is Our Moon Shot’: An Interview with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(1), 24–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rinehart, G. (1993). Quality education: applying the philosophy of Dr. W. Edwards Deming to transform the educational system. Wisconsin: ASQC Quality Press.Google Scholar
  50. Ryan, R., & Deci, E. (2000). Self determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schleicher, A., & Stewart, V. (2008). Learning from world-class schools. Educational Leadership, 66(2), 44–51.Google Scholar
  52. Schmoker, M., & Wilson, R. B. (1993). Transforming schools through total quality education. The Phi Delta Kappan, 74(5), 389–395.Google Scholar
  53. Schweisfurth, M. M. (2013). Learner-centred education in international perspective: whose pedagogy for whose development? New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Scrabec, Q., Jr. (2000). Viewpoint: a quality education is not customer driven. Journal of Education for Business, 75(5), 298–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sergiovanni, T. J. (2001). Leadership: what’s in it for schools? London: RoutledgeFalmer.Google Scholar
  56. Sim, J. B. Y., & Ho, L. C. (2010). Transmitting social and national values through education in Singapore: tensions in a globalized era. In T. Lovat, R. Toomey, & N. Clement (Eds.), International research handbook on values education and student wellbeing (pp. 897–917). Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sim, J. B. Y., & Print, M. (2009). The state, teachers and citizenship education in Singapore schools. British Journal of Educational Studies, 57(4), 380–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Smith, E. (2005). Raising standards in American schools: the case of No Child Left Behind. Journal of Education Policy, 20(4), 507–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Soudien, C. (2011). Building quality in education: are international standards helpful? Contemporary Education Dialogue, 8(2), 183–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Spillane, J. (2005). Distributed leadership. The Educational Forum, 69(2), 143–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Stronge, J. H., Ward, T. J., & Grant, L. W. (2011). What makes good teachers good? A cross-case analysis of the connection between teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Journal of Teacher Education, 62(4), 339–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tan, C. (2008). Globalisation, the Singapore state and educational reforms: towards performativity. Education, Knowledge and Economy, 2(2), 111–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tikly, L. (2011). Towards a framework for researching the quality of education in low-income countries. Comparative Education, 47(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tharman, S., 2005. Achieving quality: bottom up initiative, top down support. Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education, at the 2005 MOE Work Plan Seminar at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Centre, Singapore, September 22, http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2005/sp20050922.htm, June 4, 2013.
  65. Tschannen-Moran, M., Hoy, A. W., & Hoy, W. K. (1998). Teacher efficacy: its meaning and measure. Review of Educational Research, 68(2), 202–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. UNESCO. (2005). Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2005: the quality imperative. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  67. UNICEF. (2000). A paper presented by UNICEF at the meeting of The International Working Group on Education Florence, Italy, June, 2000. New York: UNICEF Working Paper Series. Defining Quality in Education. Google Scholar
  68. Westera, W. (1999). Paradoxes in open, networked learning environments: towards a paradigm shift. Educational Technology, 39(1), 17–23.Google Scholar
  69. Wiseman, A. W. (2013). Policy responses to PISA in comparative perspective. In H. Meyer & A. Benavot (Eds.), PISA, Power, and Policy (pp. 303–322). Oxford, UK: The Emergence of Global Educational Governance. Symposium Books.Google Scholar
  70. Zhao, Y. (2005). Increasing math and science achievement: the best and worst of the East and West. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(3), 219–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group, National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeRepublic of Singapore

Personalised recommendations