• Ana-Cristina Popescu

Student thesis: Phd


ABSTRACTThe project outlined in this thesis examines the ways in which headteachers position themselves as professionals following the shift from communism to neo-liberal markets and the decentralisation of the public education system in post-communist Romania. Following this shift, Romanian headteachers faced new accountability frameworks and witnessed a reconceptualisation of their professional responsibilities. The methodology adopted is policy scholarship because, by looking at decentralisation through a historical-cultural lens, i.e. Romania's recent history of communism and transition to a more democratic state, it best addresses the three key-research questions. The methods used are official policy documents and interviews with different stakeholders located at three different levels in the Romanian education system. These were: secondary heads and county school inspectors. Four key national policy-makers were also interviewed. In the thesis, the Romanian situation is presented (as captured) in the period 2009-2011. The decentralisation of Romanian education is dichotomous. It is a hybrid between neo-liberalism and communist throwbacks that I call politicised decentralisation. On the one hand, decentralisation and quasi-markets are being introduced into public education at the recommendation of international donors (the World Bank, the European Union). On the other hand, the endurance of communist practices makes it difficult for professionals to adapt to new professional responsibilities and accountability frameworks. A new conceptual framework emerged from the international literature, national policy documents and empirical study and was used to explore the findings. This examines the components, levels and dimensions of decentralisation in education in Romania. The key-findings show the complexities of decentralisation in headteachers' professional activity. Importantly, the politicisation of the education system is the biggest challenge faced by the interviewees. For example, in 2012 alone there have been three different cabinets and seven ministers of education in the last five years. This has resulted in instability in post at all three levels, not least because with each change in minister both county school inspectors and headteachers are usually replaced. The findings show that new accountability frameworks emerged and impacted upon headteachers' relationships with different stakeholders such as inspectors, local authorities, as well as parents and students as consumers of education. This thesis is important in showing how policy implementation and enactment differs depending on the socio-economic, political and cultural context. The conceptual framework developed in the thesis and the findings have relatability for educationalists, policy-makers, practitioners and researchers, both nationally and internationally, especially since the existing empirical base predominantly refers to liberal democracies.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorHelen Gunter (Supervisor) & David Hall (Supervisor)


  • decentralisation, headteachers, Romania, public education

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