School autonomy, marketisation and social justice: the plight of principals and schools

Amanda Keddie, Katrina Claire MacDonald, Jill Blackmore, Scott Eacott, Brad Gobby, Caroline Mahony, Richard Niesche, Jane Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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There remains strong political support for school autonomy reform within Australian public education despite evidence linking this reform to exacerbating school and systemic inequities. This paper presents interview data from key education stakeholders gathered from a broader study that is investigating the social justice implications of school autonomy reform across three Australian states. We focus on the concerns these stakeholders raise about the plight of principals and particular schools when policies of school autonomy converge with market imperatives of economic efficiency, competition and public accountability. Such concerns reflect the significance of education systems providing greater and more nuanced support for principals and schools to manage the extra responsibilities of greater school autonomy and accountability. While these aspects of support are central, we argue that systemic reform that is driven by educative, rather than market, imperatives is necessary for creating a context where school autonomy can be mobilised for social justice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-447
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Educational Administration and History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • principals
  • public education
  • school autonomy reform
  • Social justice

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