CCEAM History

CCEAM was brought into existence as the Commonwealth Council of Educational Administration (so initially CCEA) by a meeting in 1970 at the University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia, which was convened at the conclusion of the second International Intervisitation Programme (IIP) by Professor Bill Walker of that university. 
His was the vision. It sprang from enthusiasm for a Commonwealth-wide professional organisation, kindled by his participation four years before in the initial 1966 IIP which had been sponsored by the North American University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA). That had been an international gathering of educational administration scholars and practitioners, which in apparently more leisurely times had itinerated and deliberated over several weeks in the eastern United States and in neighbouring Canadian provinces. 

Enthusiasm had been communicated in both directions. Consequently the second IIP was hosted in the eastern states of Australia, small groups visiting universities, schools and state departments of education, and congregating in the final week at Armidale. The Commonwealth participants, drawn from nations of both the ‘old’ and the rapidly expanding ‘new’ Commonwealth, resolved unanimously to establish the CCEA, and seek the establishing of the Council’s Secretariat at the University of New England. 

In the intervening four years Professor Walker had undertaken considerable preparatory work. In particular he had generated support in London for the proposed venture within the recently established Commonwealth Foundation. This body had as its mission the promotion of professional bodies across the Commonwealth, assisting them to increase communication particularly between younger professionals through visits and conferences, helping them to set up national associations where none existed, and the reducing of such bodies’ centralisation on the United Kingdom. 

Professor Walker was assisted in these approaches by Dr George Baron and Dr Bill Taylor of the University of London Institute of Education. By 1969 he had been able to advise John Chadwick, founding Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, of a generous financial offer from the University of New England, and its preparedness to house the Secretariat within Professor Walker’s Education Department at the university. 

The 1970 meeting at Armidale proceeded to set up an interim Board for the new professional association, and authorised a formal approach for funding to the Commonwealth Foundation. After a visit to Armidale by John Chadwick, funding was approved for the fledgling organisation and an Executive Director appointed, John Ewing formerly Director of Primary Education in New Zealand being the successful applicant. Like Professor Walker who had been elected founding President of the new CCEA, John Ewing had shared in both IIP 1966 and IIP 1970. 

The first CCEA Newsletter, published in 1971, announced that membership would be ‘open to all those interested in the administration of education. This prescription enables educationists from all levels – pre-school to tertiary – to participate in Council activities. Similarly it permits membership for practising administrators, for scholars and professors involved in the study and teaching of educational administration, for teachers aspiring to administrative status, for politicians and civil servants.’ Membership is available today on the same broad prescription. 

Steps were quickly taken to establish the Australian Council of Educational Administration and regional councils in various parts of Australia. Next followed the British Educational Administration Society, later to be renamed BEMAS, (British Educational Management & Administration Society). Councils followed in other parts of the Commonwealth, the New Zealand body being established in 1975. 

By 1974 the Foundation President and Executive Director were able to report to a ministerial Commonwealth Education Conference in Jamaica of initial regional conferences held in Malaysia and Fiji. Over the years these topic-specific regional conferences drew on expertise from around the Commonwealth, and by 1992 in Hong Kong these conferences had become Commonwealth conferences per se. They had also come to be held routinely in the median year between the four-yearly IIP’s, which now gathered together educational administrators from the Americas, from the new European Forum and from CCEA. 

In the new century just begun, with the demise of the IIP model, the Commonwealth conferences have become biennial and their inclusive note will be emphasised by the location of the 2002 conference in northern Sweden. A CCEAM symposium is now a regular part of the programme of the annual UCEA conferences in North America. 

Writing for the celebratory 1990 CCEA publication, Advancing Education: School Leadership in Action, Professor Walker identified five characteristics of the Council over its first twenty years. He suggested:

  • CCEA was never Anglocentric, with its headquarters located 12,000 miles from London, the base of most other professional associations, and with the spread of linkages from Australasia into the Pacific and South East Asia matched by encouragement from the United Kingdom of initiatives in Africa, and links from Canada into the Caribbean;
  • There was little order or rationality in the Council’s growth, a good reason being that expansion usually depended, in days prior to teleconferencing and the Internet, on the enthusiasm of a committed individual and his or her leadership and mana or prestige, a less acceptable reason being the great variety in teachers’ conditions and salaries across countries so that a universal subscription rate was quite impracticable;
  • Although it was assumed at the foundation of the Council that it would be self-supporting at the end of a decade, despite considerable sacrifices by successive Executive Directors and their endeavours to keep costs and travel to a minimum, the goal was not achieved (and the Council today continues to rely on support from the Commonwealth Foundation);
  • Financial support was given unequally, disproportionate support being required in the initial years from ACEA in Australia and BEMAS in the United Kingdom, but at Commonwealth-wide and regional conferences alike there was an ease and familiarity engendered by common traditions of language, law and education;
  • Leadership of successive Presidents was drawn from across the Commonwealth and the regional representation on the Board and the selection of Vice Presidents emphasised the sense of a Commonwealth ‘Education family.’

Professor Bill Walker provided leadership as President for twelve years to 1982. In later years his influence was extended even more broadly as Chief Executive and Principal of the Australian Management College at Mt. Eliza on the shores of Port Phillip Bay. He was succeeded as President of CCEA from 1982 to 1986 by Canadian Professor Robin Farquhar, successively Dean of Education at the University of Saskatchewan, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, and President and Vice-Chancellor of Carleton University in Ottawa. Professor Farquhar had earlier served as Deputy Director of the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education and as Director of the University Council of Educational Administration in the United States. 

From 1986 to 1990 the presidency passed to Great Britain in the person of Professor Meredydd Hughes, Head of the Department of Educational Studies and Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Birmingham. He had earlier been Senior Lecturer at University College Cardiff and national Chair of BEMAS, 1978-82. 

In 1990 the Presidency returned to Australia, Professor Bill Mulford of the University of Tasmania assuming the helm after periods of leadership at both national and state levels in ACEA. He was succeeded in turn in 1994 by a second president from the United Kingdom, Professor Angela Thody initially of the University of Luton and more latterly at the International Educational Leadership Centre at Lincoln University. 

At the CCEAM millennium conference in Hobart in the year 2000 the presidency passed to President Jo Howse of the Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. She had previously served for four years as President of the Council’s New Zealand affiliate NZEAS, and had earlier most successfully revivified the Society’s Auckland branch and presided over a 1994 national conference which restored the health and vision of NZEAS, both severely under stress from the years of system-wide education reforms which had commenced in 1988. 

While based at the University of New England CCEAM was loyally served by four Executive Directors – John Ewing to 1975; Professor Harry Harris of Australia to 1983; Basil Kings, formerly Director of Teacher Education in the New Zealand Department of Education, to 1988; and John Weeks to 1994, who brought to the task the broad experience of supporting education in many parts of the world over thirty five years in Commonwealth and international agencies. 

By the mid-nineties the political and financial regimes under which universities in Australia were operating made sustaining the Armidale base problematic, and with the election of Professor Thody as CCEAM President, CCEAM administration followed her to England. From 2000 and the election of Mrs Howse as President, CCEAM administration has now been centred on Auckland New Zealand. 

These transitions have been more easily accomplished by a range of delegations of former Executive Director responsibilities. Members of the Board are charged with leadership of committees on Qualifications, Membership and Marketing, Publications, Conference liaison, Constitutional matters, CCEAM Fellowships recommendations, and Strategic Planning. Council publications are now managed from Hong Kong in the case of International Studies in Educational Administration, and Canada in the case of Managing Education Matters. 

Ken Rae

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