© 2016 by The Architect Leader / EdX International Ltd

Research Insight

When the school leader research was released in Harvard Business review 2016, it was celebrated by the media and top-ranking education authorities, its significance emphasised by thought leasders including Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governance Association (NGA) in the UK, and Sir Michael Wilshaw, then Chief Inspector of Schools in England and head of the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).  Though outcomes from that study were lauded as a breakthrough for Education both by educators and experts, some parties felt the media under-emphasised the rigour behind the research method, necessary for publication in HBR, and that the original research team was quoted more on the output . For some helpful transparency, the following information indicates the approach taken, drawing on  relevant publicly accessible papers published under the crests of the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School and Kingston University. At EdX we are also running our own independent and objective perpretual study to validate or refresh the original research, at the same time as expanding the scope of study to a wider variety of school types and contexts.  

Academy selection
160 Academies were examined on the following target criterion:

 

The Academy schools needed to operate in different geographies across 2 variables:

• Opportunity (total available students)

• Competition (number of other schools)


The Academy schools needed to teach different types of students across 3 variables: • Volume (number of students taught within the year)
• Ethnicity (% mix)
• Distance (distance students travel to school)


The Academy schools needed to report organisational performance across 3 variables: • Operational (Ofsted grading and exam results)
• Financial (sales revenue and operating profit)
• Competitiveness (student applications with respect to geography)


Protocol
Existing literature on the relationship between investment and organisational performance w reviewed. Based on this, audit protocols were developed to include semi-structured interview case study write ups and the final cross-case analysis.


Fieldwork
Each audit started with an initial field visit to review objectives, agree access and confidentiality, a to determine the school heads and faculty to be interviewed, the observations to be made a archival records, documents and reports to be provided.
Each school audit took up to 24 months to complete and involved up to 48 visits, 51 interviews, 2 observations, analysis of up to 127 documents and 351 archival records per academy.


Analysis
Findings were written up for each study using the protocol outlining the school’s level organisational performance, area characteristics, type of students taught and structures, syste and processes used to deliver its services.
A detailed report was presented back to each participating academy for comment, to increa visibility and validity of the findings.


Hypothesis
A cross-school analysis was completed to compare each academy's investment and performan journeys over the previous seven years to identify significant relationships and the differe approaches used in different geographies to teach different types of students.


Conclusion
The hypotheses developed were then presented to steering group members (principals, leader teachers) working in the academies. The emergent findings were compared with those of previo research into investment and organisational performance, and other relevant operatio management and organisation theory. Iterative analysis continued until theoretical saturation w reached and new evidence ceased to appear.

Research Insight 1

Method

Geography
Students: # secondary students living <2 miles of the school.
Growth: % of student population growth <2 miles of the school in previous 5 years Competing schools: # of secondary schools <2 miles of the school.
Students taught
Number: # or students taught within the year.
Ethnicity: % of students taught by ethnicity.
Distance: % of students taught who live > 1 mile from the school.


Operational performance
Ofsted: Grading awarded by Ofsted inspectors during their visit that year. See section 3. Exam results: % of students graduating Year 11 with 5+ Grade C GCSEs.
Financial performance
Income: Income for the year from all sources. Surplus: Budget surplus as a % of income for the year.


Competitiveness
Applications: student applications received as a % of teaching capacity.
Market share: # students taught as a % of the average number in schools < 1 mile away.
Distance: % of students living >1 mile from the school.

Research Insight 2

Variables

Process
• Inspectors observe lessons, often with senior school staff.
• Meetings held with the academy board, senior staff from academy sponsors, different stude groups, school staff, the principal(s) and other leaders.
• Responses analysed to online Parent Questionnaire and Staff Questionnaire.
• Inspection of students’ past & present work, academic progress, behaviour, attendance and safet


Framework
Schools are inspected on four aspects:
• Achievement of pupils - ‘is one of the key issues we examine. In judging achievement, we look pupils’ levels of attainment when they join the school, the progress they make during their time the school through to the standards they reach by the time they leave, compared with all pupi nationally.’ (Ofsted, 2012).
• Teaching quality - ‘In our new inspection approach, inspectors spend even more time classrooms observing lessons. They look at how well pupils are learning and how effective teachers assess and give feedback to children on their work. Inspectors focus closely on ho effectively literacy and numeracy skills are taught, talk to pupils about their work and, in prima schools, inspectors will also listen to pupils read. We continue to listen to the views of parent pupils and staff by inviting them to complete questionnaires. Inspectors provide feedback teachers and other staff about the quality of the lessons observed and give points for improveme where appropriate.’ (Ofsted, 2012).
• Behaviour and safety of pupils - ‘we judge how well the school manages pupils’ behaviour a attendance and promotes and ensures their safety from bullying and harassment. Particul attention is given to pupils’ attitudes to learning, as well as to their conduct in lessons and arou the school. Inspectors take into account the views of pupils, staff, parents and carers, and governo to get a view of what behaviour is typically like at the school.’ (Ofsted, 2012).
• Leadership and management - ‘good school leadership is essential if a school is to perform we Inspectors judge the effectiveness of leaders and managers of the school, (including, whe relevant, governors) in improving the quality of teaching and learning, raising standards a ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of pupils at the school. They judge how well leaders a managers ensure that the curriculum meets the learning needs of the pupils and how effective they lead and manage school improvement.’ (Ofsted, 2012).


Grading
Based on their inspection, a school is graded from 1 to 4 using the following definitions:
• Grade 1: Outstanding - Highly effective in delivering outcomes that provide exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs. This ensures that pupils are very well equipped for the next stage of their education, training or employment.
• Grade 2: Good - Effective in delivering outcomes that provide well for all its pupils’ needs. Pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their education, training or employment.
• Grade 3: Requires Improvement (Satisfactory) - Not yet a good school, but not inadequate. This school will receive a full inspection within 24 months from the date of this inspection.
• Grade 4: Inadequate (Special Measures) - Has serious weaknesses overall and requires significan improvement, but leadership and management are judged to be Grade III or better. This school wil receive regular monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.

Reseach Insight 3

OFTSED inspection

Geography                                      metro            urban           rural           coast
Students in area (000)                    11.3                105             12                   4

Population growth for 5 years %       9                     12               5                  (7)

Competing schools in area #             9                      6                5                  4


Students taught
Number enrolled (000)                      0.
9                  10              0.6               11

Ethnicity % White D                         35                     17            89                  76

istance % >1 mile away


Operational performance
Ofsted grading 1-4                             
-                         1              -                  18

Exam results % 5+ C                         53                    69            63                 36

 

Financial performance               
Income £M                                           
6.3                 73           36                   5.6
Surplus as % of income                       17                   34           (7)                 18


Competitiveness
Applications (% capacity)                     
112                150         79                117
Student share as % of other schools       78                100         63                  82 

Distance % living >1 mile away              53                 67          35                    1

Research Insight 4

Macro Data

Research Insight 5
Leader actions

1
 13
 34
19
14


 

12


 

-
29
29


 

13
-


 

24
3, 37
2, 13
27
16
36
15
26
38


 

12
28
18


 

17
17
-
3
35, 48


 

30
39
51
39
51

 

1
 2, 58
 36
5
15


 

1, 12


 

5
36
5, 48


 

3
5


 

5
37, 48
9, 15
3, 37
18, 26
-
23, 27
37
36


 

1, 36
36
3


 

18
16
47
13
36, 48, 60


 

28
27
29, 38
27
29, 38


1, 36
 1, 23, 59
 12
37, 50, 52
59


 

1, 13, 26


 

2
58
28


 

15
28


 

24
49
1, 60
5
26
2
15, 25
60
49


 

3
38
21, 27


 

27
27
50
2, 26
25


 

36
13, 37
53
39, 60
14, 25


1, 46
 1, 3, 47
 48
31, 49
60


 

1


 

12
50
50


 

20
50


 

24
24, 29, 48
13, 52
2
48
-
49
24, 36
48


 

1, 14, 25
47, 50
29, 40


 

46
49, 60
-
3, 25
47, 59


 

15, 31
56
57, 59
56
57, 59

 

Months until new leader takes action on various critical factors: 

Geography                                      metro            urban           rural           coast

Leadership objectives                  
Change governing board                                   
Change school leadership         
Focus on finance/operations       
Maths & English focus                
Reduce teacher workload            

Public perception
Rebrand the school

Service capacity
Acquire/open a Primary school
Setup a Sixth Form
Expand service offering

Student admissions
Faster applications, online
Attract from Primary school

Structure
Single site, better facilities
Centralise back office activities
Focus on parents
Add back office facilities
Reduce teachers
Put students into Houses
Reduce back office staff
Centralise front office
Apply process management

Behaviour
Improve student behaviour
Teach how to learn 
Improve teachers

Teaching
Lift goals; cut students
Observe teacher performance
Best teachers to Year 11
Raise teaching workload
Raise Year 11 teacher salaries

Development
Introduce performance measures
Develop middle managers
360º feedback & coaching
Train staff in quality
Develop leader capability

Research Insight 6.

Seven myths debunked:

Myth 1.

'More resources accelerate
improvement'

Conclusion

Make the right changes in the right sequence


Although resources are necessary to attract good leaders and teachers, to change structures, improve teaching processes and put in place good systems, schools will not improve faster if more funds are made available. Instead, the speed of improvement depends on schools taking the right actions in the right sequence.

Myth 2

'It's more difficult to turn around metro schools'

Conclusion

It's easier to improve leadership & student quality


Inner city Metro schools have greater access to resources (students and teachers) than in Rural or Coastal ones, which makes it easier to improve leadership and student quality.

Myth 3

'Must have small classes'

Conclusion

Improve student quality, attendance & behaviour plus teaching capability


The impact of the teaching process depends more on the level of student quality, attendance and behaviour and the teaching capability than the size of the class.

Myth 4

'Must have a Super Head '

Conclusion

Improve structures, student quality & teaching processes


Although capable leaders improve focus and decision making, performance can still improve with a poor leader if they are guided by others to make the right changes in the right sequence.

Myth 5

'Improve teaching first '

Conclusion

Improve student quality, put in the right structures and stabilise the teaching process first


Improving the teaching capability within a school will have little impact if the process is still unstable (poor student attendance and behaviour) and the wrong structures are still in place.

Myth 6

'A new building will improve behaviour'

Conclusion

A new building is an opportunity to increase revenue


Although a new building creates opportunity to increase revenue (more students and provide non-academic services such as conference facilities and gym memberships) it will not, by itself improve student behaviour.

Myth 7

"Must have

‘zero tolerance’ behaviour policy"

Conclusion

Use positive behaviour management techniques


Although policies ‘forcing’ students to behave has a short-term impact, sustainable behaviour changes does not occur until teachers work with students to collectively identify ‘positive behaviours’ and introduce positive behaviour management techniques such as ‘get ready for learning’.

 

1
 2, 58
 36
5
15


1, 12


5
36
5, 48


3
5


5
37, 48
9, 15
3, 37
18, 26
-
23, 27
37
36


1, 36
36
3


18
16
47
13
36, 48, 60


28
27
29, 38
27
29, 38

Research Insight 7
Right Sequence
A school improves faster, using less resource, and is more likely to sustain results, if steps are completed in a specific sequence.
Research Insight 8
Leader background filters: education, experience and observation correlate with default style

"Better leadership training would also prevent UK heads from falling back on beliefs about leadership based on [observed experience and] their chosen teaching subject."

- Teach Talks Oct 2017

Research Insight 9
An overview of trends that emerge when studying school leader type

Research Insight 10

GDP impact

A calculated impact on the wider economy by developing more Architect Leaders in more UK schools projects a positive and desirable outcome.

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