Evaluation of regional development centres and national resource centres
On behalf of the Government, Högskoleverket (Swedish National Agency for Higher Education) has evaluated the significance of regional development centres (RDCs) and national resource centres (NRCs) for school development. In accordance with the assignment from the Government, the evaluation has been undertaken from the perspective of the accountable authority. The following conclusions have been made, based on interviews with education officers, or the equivalent, in approximately forty local authorities, interviews with staff at the centres, and the answers to questionnaires from a number of head teachers. According to local authority representatives, the most important role of RDCs is to initiate and lead networks, and to facilitate access to higher education. RDCs have been most successful when they have a strong presence at higher education institutions, where the management of a higher education institution has a well though out strategy, and where the local authority demonstrates a keen interest. Another important factor for success is that the local authority has as much power as higher education institutions in the decision-making and advisory bodies of RDCs.
There is a strong need for local representatives to provide information about Government efforts for school development and to provide support, particularly to small local authorities. RDC could fulfil this role if they were given the mandate to do so.
The role of RDCs should be clarified and should provide an opportunity to adapt their activities to the needs of the different local authorities. Currently, the only defined role is the link to teacher education.
The link between RDCs and teacher education could be a problem for local school development if there was a fall in the number of higher education institutions offering teacher education programmes.
NRCs are virtually unknown to the management of local authorities with the exception of the National Centre for Mathematics Programmes. If NRCs are to have more influence over school development they need to become better known, for example by cooperating with RDCs. This could part of their mandate.
A changed role for NRCs could be discussed as an extension to the proposal for a centre for teaching and learning that was presented in the recent investigation into teacher education.
Clearer roles for the centres must be supported by long-term funding.