Principal self-government and subjectification: the exercise of principal autonomy in the Western Australian Independent Public Schools programme (2013) Critical Studies in Education, 54 (3), pp. 273-285.
The launch of the Independent Public Schools (IPS) programme in Western Australia (WA) in 2010 reflects the neoliberal policy discourse of decentralisation and school self-management sweeping across many of the world’s education systems. IPS provides WA state school principals with decision-making authority in a range of areas, including the employment of staff and managing school budgets. Using an analytical toolkit provided by Michel Foucault and Foucauldian scholarship, this article examines how the IPS programme functions as a regime of government and self-government. Data collected from two IPS principals is used to examine the subjective effects of power as it is exercised in the IPS regime. The article finds that the IPS initiative introduces new possibilities for principals to actively participate in practices of self-formation, through which these principals self-steer, exercise their freedom and govern themselves and their schools. It illustrates how governmental mechanisms depend on, harness and shape the autonomy of these principals, and how their individual practices of self-government align with neoliberal governmentalities.
governmentality; Independent Public Schools; neoliberalism; school principals; self-management