Could do better: the journey to improve a small primary school...

Longman, Julia (2011) Could do better: the journey to improve a small primary school... Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis set out to research the process of school improvement in a small primary
school as well as to take a look at how that process might feel to the people
working in that school. I also wanted to consider whether the size and thus
potential intensity of working in a small environment would have an impact on
people’s feelings and actions especially as there is still not a great deal of published
literature on small schools. I took accepted notions of school improvement and
attempted to compare these with what was really happening in a small school
struggling to improve. Different models of change, in particular Communities of
Practice, were considered alongside what appeared to be taking place inside the
research school.
The research was undertaken in two distinct parts. The first, a case study of the
school in question during the academic year 2009 – 2010, involved observation
reflection and regular interviewing of a number of teachers and governors. The
second was an auto-ethnographic study of the preceding five years by the
headteacher of that school. This came about when evaluating the possibility that
real, embedded improvement cannot take place within a single academic year. To
look at this further it was decided to situate the one year case study within a longerterm
view of the school.
Events in the case study school unfolded in a way that reflected current change
models. It transpired that embedding change can be a slow process but that
without such embedding it is unlikely that sustainable change will occur. It became
clear that participants needed to have ownership of the change agenda. However,
it was also evident that good leadership plays its part too. If the leader does not
have vision then change is likely to be rather aimless, like a journey without a map
or compass. The role played by the headteacher in moderating, ameliorating and
encouraging change is therefore examined.
Another slightly surprising theme that emerged was the apparent magnification
effect in a small school. This was a thread which ran throughout both observation
and interviews and which was deemed worthy of further exploration. I chose to
look further at how the concept of a ‘magnification effect’ can help to explore
processes of change and development, particularly in small schools. It was
important to look at how this effect can inhibit or enable change in ways where the
effects of the individual appear to be greater than in a larger setting.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Users 7377 not found.
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2014 12:19
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2014 12:19

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