Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 57–78 | Cite as

Orchestrating Complex Educational Change: Local Reorganisation of Schools in England

  • Mike Wallace


This paper considers how complex educationalchange may be managed through the `metatask' oforchestration, narrowly distributed amongsenior formal leaders within and betweendifferent administrative levels of large publiceducation systems. Orchestration impliessteering the change process by organising andmaintaining oversight of an intricate array ofcoordinated tasks. It is the over-arching`complex change management theme' of ahierarchically ordered typology derivedinductively from a national study ofdistrict-wide initiatives to close or mergeschools so as to reduce spare student capacityand improve the quality of educationalprovision. The paper explores patterns revealedby this research relating to orchestration. Theresearch design and methods are outlined. Therelationship is clarified between the conceptsof orchestration, leadership and management. Ananalytical model is built-up for analysingcomplex educational change along threedimensions: change management themes, headed byorchestration; characteristics of thecomplexity of the change with managementimplications; and stages of the change process.The constituents of each dimension in turn aredescribed, briefly illustrated throughreference to reorganisation, and linked withorchestration. Characteristics of complexitydictated the response of orchestration and thesubordinate complex change management themesacross the different stages of the changeprocess. The analytical model is offered as aconceptual framework for future research thatwould test its wider applicability and as apractical planning tool. The importance isunderlined of developing generic yetcontext-sensitive practical guidance thatreflects the degree of complexity faced byorchestrators charged with managingcontemporary educational change.

change management themes characteristics of complexity complex educational change leadership and management orchestration reorganisation of schools stages of change 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mike Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of BathBathUK

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