Kindergartens finding regional management not that bad after all

Parents remain sceptical, but study shows that controversial move is improving education

Local councils that bundled the management of numerous kindergartens together under a single regional manager are seeing positive results, according to Danmarks Evalueringsinstitut (EVA). Nearly 98 percent of mayors questioned say the move has improved the quality of education at their kindergartens.

Managers themselves were 70 percent positive about the change in management style, but less than half of the teachers questioned said that the change made their jobs any easier.

“The teachers are less than positive,” said EVA project manager Nanna Lindeberg to Berlingske newspaper. “It is possible that teachers are not seeing many changes.”

When the change was first being considered, council governments experienced that parents, teachers and even school management were often against the plan. Some even tried to privatise their school to prevent it from happening.

The EVA study questioned and interviewed nearly 600 educators, daily managers and regional managers across the country. The only group left out of the poll were parents. Dorothy Boe Danbjørg, the vice-president of Forældrenes Landsorganisation (Fola), a national parent group, said parents were being marginalised while other people decided what was best for their children.

“As a parent, you are very concerned about what is happening in your child's kindergarten,” she said. “Sometimes the discussions of a regional board seem very far from your daily reality.”

Kindergartens have responded by creating parent groups that can express their concerns yet have no formal mandate.

“Regional management reduces parental co-operation to a coffee club where it's just about who can come and fix the swingset and paint the fence,” said Danbjørg who thinks kindergartens should have their own managers.

Susanne Brodersen, the regional manager for eight kindergartens said she received angry e-mail from parents on a daily basis when the new structure was first put in to place.

“The resistance seemed based in ideology rather than reality,” she said. “There were no clear arguments about what was really missing.”

Brodersen said that complains had almost dried up.

In 2010, 32 councils introduced regional management. Several others have since adopted the policy.