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Chapter 4   For the Foundation of Trustworthy Schools
Section 2   The Establishment of Schools That are Trustworthy to the Parents and to the Local Communities
1.   The Establishment of Open Schools - To Achieve Accountability -

  For the establishment of schools, uniqueness and personality of each individual student must be respected; solid academic improvement needs to be achieved; and well-rounded character must be cultivated. The discretion of a school must be expanded so that, under the leadership of a headmaster, organized and flexible school management can be conducted. Thus, active educational activities with creative ingenuity can be developed in such a way that they fit well with the needs and conditions of children and local communities. At the same time, responding to the trust of parents and local residents, schools are expected to support the development of children through cooperation with homes and communities.

  Schools need to conduct self-evaluation on their management, and results of their management and other school information should be voluntarily disclosed to parents and communities in order to achieve accountability, which in the end, leads to the establishment of open schools. In the process of doing so, it is important to utilize The School Councilor System where opinions from parents and local residents are sought.

(1) Promotion of school evaluation and provision of information

  In order for a school to respond to the trust of parents and local residents and to cooperate with them, it is necessary to self-evaluate the conditions of school management, and to improve the management and instruction methods based on the evaluation results. In addition, it is also essential to disclose the evaluation result and other school information to parents so as to fulfill school accountability.

1) Making self-evaluation mandatory

  In the "Standard for Elementary School Establishment" (ministerial ordinance) enforced in April, 2002, it is stipulated that schools should attempt to implement self-evaluation and to disclose the results. The self-evaluation at elementary schools, lower secondary schools, upper secondary schools, kindergartens, etc. has become mandatory.

  The specifics of self-evaluation are left in the hands of schools or local boards of education, but basically, evaluation should be made on "school activities", "objectives of education", "courses", "instructions", "student guidance," "division of duties", "activities of teachers on the whole", "clerical work", and "facilities and equipment".

  Not only self-evaluation, but also an external evaluation, which refers to the participation of school councilors (parents and local residents) in evaluation, is certainly expected.

  Needless to say, evaluation itself is meaningless unless it is used for improvement of school education. When problems or issues come into being as a result of evaluation, it is important to take measures to deal with them as promptly as possible.


School Evaluation System Using School Councilor System (Board of education of Gifu prefecture)

  The School Councilor System was implemented in Gifu prefecture in FY 1999 before any other prefectures in the country. Utilizing this system, schools in Gifu formulated the school evaluation system encompassing the external evaluation functions in order to improve the school management system and accountability.

  For example, upper secondary schools add their own evaluation items to the ones set by the board of education ("policies of education", "cooperation with homes", "educational personnel", "lessons", "student guidance", "school events, and others"). External evaluations are implemented with the participation of parents and school councilors who give 4 ratings to schools, from A to D, on the basis of the evaluation sheet. Each school analyzes the result to reflect it on their own self-evaluation.

<Flow of school evaluation>

2) Obligation of information disclosure

  In the "Standard for Establishment of Elementary School" (ministry ordinance) which was enforced in April 2002, it is provided that schools should willingly present information on conditions of school management to parents and others. Thus, elementary schools, lower secondary schools, upper secondary schools and kindergartens have become bound to provide information.

  Specific methods of the provision of information are left to the choice of schools and boards of education. Some of the examples are to publish school letters, to hold explanatory meetings, or to use school's Internet sites. "Open School Week" during which anyone is welcome to school to observe lessons and activities of children is another effective way of accountability (See Table 1-4-5 ).

Table 1-4-5 Percentage of Schools Which Have Established Internet Websites


Spread of "Open School Week"

  One of the measures to provide information of schools is "Open School Week", which is designated by local boards of education. Visitors are welcome to observe children's activities in schools during the week. A visitor voiced a compliment; "Schools are working harder than expected". It is pointed out that the increased understanding and interest in school education among parents and local residents has led to some achievements. Examples of two boards of education are introduced below.

Board of Education of Hiroshima Prefecture

[Let's Go to School Week]

- November 1-7, 2002
- Record of the previous year:   Schools (elementary, lower secondary, upper secondary):   995 schools   Total number of visitors: about 320,000

Board of Education of Kanazawa City [Open School Week]

- October 15-18, 2002 (4 days)
- Record of the previous year:   Schools (elementary, lower secondary, upper secondary)   83 schools   Total number of visitors: about 16,000

(2) Utilization of School Councilor System

  The School Councilor System was established as a project to get the local residents to participate in school management for the first time in the country, in April 2000. The functions of the School Councilors are:

(a) to grasp and reflect the ideas of parents and local residents on school management;
(b) to gain cooperation from parents and local residents in school management; and
(c) to achieve accountability by providing information on the conditions of school management.

1) Establishment of the School Councilor System and its Management

  Although the School Councilor System is not mandatory under the ministerial ordinance, founders of schools such as boards of education are eligible to establish school councilors on their own discretion in order to facilitate flexibility in management in line with the conditions of schools and communities.

  The system is not a council system in a strict sense, but a place where each councilor expresses an opinion on his or her own responsibility. When necessary, all councilors meet to exchange their opinions.

  Councilors express their opinions on questions posed by the headmasters. It is the headmasters' responsibility to make judgments on school management while considering opinions of school councilors.

2) Situation of School Councilor System

  The number of schools that set up the School Councilor System is on increase every year, and the situation as of August 2002 is as follows.

Figure 1-4-4 Situation of School Councilor System (Includes Similar Systems) (As of August 1, 2002)

  Under the School Councilor System, various projects have been implemented to contribute to the improvement of the educational activities in schools. For example, curriculums are formed in such a way that they incorporate topics which are closely related to local issues and that volunteers from the local communities can participate in school events and activities.

  Moreover, it is expected the School Councilor System will be enhanced even further in order to build trustworthy schools through achieving accountability and through various projects to encourage schools to disclose information on school management and, as mentioned earlier, to allow councilors to participate in school evaluations, etc.

(3) To broaden the scope of discretions of schools

  In order to broaden the scope of school discretions, it is necessary to review the School Management Regulations which stipulate the relationships between schools and local boards of education to allow schools to actively promote various and unique educational activities in line with the actual situations of children and communities. One way to relax the regulations is to change the approval system to a notification system. For example, a board of education amended the regulation on long school holidays which used to be set uniformly by the board of education, and now schools are able to change the dates and period of school holidays like summer holidays by the submission of notifications from headmasters. There are some headmaster-initiated movements toward the introduction of semester systems.

  Implementation of so-called "headmasters' discretionary expenses" is requested. Some plans to hold hearings at the time of budget planning are made so that ideas of schools will be reflected in the school budgets. An increasing number of boards of education are responding to the requests.

  On the part of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, efforts have been made:

(1) to outline the standards of curriculum to be more flexible so as to establish the "Comprehensive Study Lesson" and to expand the elective subjects, and
(2) to make the ideas and opinions of headmasters carry more weight in transfers and recruitment of the educational personnel appointed by prefectural boards of education. Amendment was made to reflect the ideas of headmasters on personnel decisions. When an opinion is expressed by a headmaster at the time of submission of the confidential report from the local board of education to the prefectural board of education, the opinion must be attached to the report. ("Amendment of the Law concerning Organization and Management of Local Education Administration Law" Enforcement on January 2002)

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