How do school leaders in Hong Kong shape policy enactment?

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This paper draws upon case studies of four high performing and improving schools in Hong Kong over a six-year period. In-depth, semi-structured, retrospective interviews were conducted with principals, middle leaders and senior teachers to identify policies of perceived impact, solicit interpretations of the policies and steps taken for enactment, and probe emerging themes. Drawing on this data, mandates have been mapped against “lines of success” that show stages of enactment and leaders’ actions that shaped improvement over 12 years (Day et al, 2011). Results show that leaders determined policy priorities based on factors such as the reputation of the school, its competitiveness within its district, and the legacy of earlier initiatives. Such factors framed their articulated values, policy acceptance, perception of policy “gaps”, and prioritization of school initiatives. The school with the most autonomy, longest history of success, and highest socioeconomic advantage drew on rich resources to enact school-based policies that seemingly anticipated mandates. In other schools, external pressures and professional conditions influenced priorities in selecting policies to emphasize. Across schools, leaders used school-based policies to establish connections that shaped enactment. The schools varied in how structural connections mediated policies; at times drawing connections holistically across a school and at other times framing them hierarchically via departments.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


Walker, A., Bry, D., & Ko, J. (2016, August). How do school leaders in Hong Kong shape policy enactment?. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER 2016): Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers, University College Dublin, Belfield, Ireland.


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