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La Educación
Número: (118) II
Año: 1994

Perceptions on School Council Influence

By 1992 no nation-wide study had been completed regarding the amount of influence that School Councils have on school activities. However, a study on the perceptions of Council influence was conducted in 1989 in the Autonomous Community of Madrid. A stratified sample was drawn of 1,060 public and private elementary school (EGB) teachers, parents, students, and non-teaching personnel.33 While no suggestion is made that the results can be generalized to other regions of Spain, interviews around the country suggest that the views recorded were not unusual.

In response to the question, “Do you consider the School Council to be an effective instrument in advancing the development of the schools?” 83 percent of the school principals responded “very limited effectiveness;” 46 percent of the teachers responded “very limited effectiveness,” (with 35 percent responding “somewhat effective”), and only 26 percent of the parents responded “very limited effectiveness,” (with 50 percent responding “somewhat effective”). Consequently, the more distant the respondents were from the actions of the School Councils, the more effective these actions appeared to be. However, it should be noted that only 50 percent of the parents reported that they had any more than minimal information about School Councils.

When asked to identify where the greatest changes had occurred in schools due to Council activity, the principals, teachers and parents all identified “increased participation” by a considerable margin.

Finally, when school principals were asked about the level of influence various groups had with respect to what took place in the schools, 50 percent declared that school principals had “a great deal” of influence, 67 percent of the principals said the teachers had “a great deal,” and 17 percent said the School Council had “a great deal” of influence. Only 12 percent of the teachers felt that the School Councils had “a great deal” of influence. Parents also believed that School Councils had considerably less influence on the schools than the teachers or administrators.

Thus, it can be argued about the effectiveness of school-based management, that there is a considerable gap between the theory of how it should function, and the practice of how it functions.