Mentoring school governance and management: An evaluation of support to schools' boards of trustees
The aim of the research project reported here was to evaluate the process and outcomes of the in-depth training programme provided to primary and secondary schools' boards of trustees by the Far North Rural Education Assistance Programme (REAP) in New Zealand. Practical research questions were developed from an analysis of the policy context and programme contracts. The international research literature on mentoring and effective support programmes was then examined. Data were collected using four methods: documentary analysis; case studies of eight selected school communities; a survey of all members of 24 participating boards' of trustees; and a focus group interview of programme consultants. Construct validity, multiple data types and sources, reasonable survey response rates, bias control strategies and triangulation permitted tentative conclusions and provisional recommendations to be drawn. It was found that the REAP scheme was valued for three main reasons; it built governance capacity in school communities; delivered "free", appropriately-scaled, culturally sensitive and customized support on-site; and it improved the ability of schools to self-manage improvements. It was also found that the Far North REAP Office played a key role in conceptualizing, developing, brokering and managing these board mentoring services, and developed a model of brokerage that might be usefully replicated through the Ministry of Education's contracting processes.
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