school improvement

Earned autonomy and shared responsibility

2024-01-06T09:24:14+00:00January 5th, 2024|Featured, leadership|

Having just gotten around to reading Matthew Evans' blog, The Earned Autonomy Trap, I feel moved to break my blogging silence of the past few months. In my book, Intelligent Accountability, I present earned autonomy as one of the principles required to balance trust and accountability and help create the conditions for teachers to thrive. In it, I argue the following: What if, no matter how hard a teacher works, no matter how successful their efforts are, they are still expected to follow the same constraints designed to support the least effective teachers? These problems are avoided if teachers are [...]

The surplus model of school improvement

2018-01-17T10:06:41+00:00October 15th, 2014|leadership|

As teachers we are sometimes guilty of assuming that all would be well if only children behaved better and worked harder. This is basically sound; everything would be better if kids did what was in their best interests. So why don't they? Well, in some schools they do. In some schools there are strong social norms which ensure that misbehaviour and laziness are the exception. This isn't because only children from more affluent postcodes are capable of doing the right thing, it's because schools and teachers have worked hard to make it easier to do the right thing than the wrong thing. [...]

An inconvenient truth? The surplus model of school improvement

2014-02-23T16:59:17+00:00February 23rd, 2014|leadership|

Schools often seem to be run on a 'deficit model': "this attributes scepticism or hostility to a lack of understanding, resulting from a lack of information. It is associated with a division between 'experts' (school leaders, Ofsted inspectors, consultants etc.) who have the information and non-experts (classroom teachers) who do not. The model implies that communication should focus on improving the transfer of information from experts to non-experts." But what if we ran our schools on a surplus model? What if we assumed that teachers were basically trustworthy, hard-working, and knew what they were doing? What it were agreed that school leaders [...]

How not to improve a school

2012-04-21T13:35:26+01:00April 21st, 2012|leadership|

Everyone agrees that 'lasting and sustaining improvement in student outcomes' is a good thing and there's little doubt that we should also seek to narrow the gap in achievement between different groups of students. Nuff said. But how should we go about it? Ben Levin, writer of How To Improve 5,000 Schools is pretty clear on what we shouldn't do. We should avoid the following assumptions: a single change can lead to rapid improvement strong leaders can force schools to improve incentives will motivate schools to improve change must driven from above through policies new standards and curriculum models will lead [...]

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