Managing change of curriculum development in comprehensive schools : an analysis of the perceptions of some middle-managers' experience in several schools
This study presents a contextualised analysis of middle management and innovation. As a small-scale investigation, it records how some middle-managers perceive the experience of innovating in comprehensive schools. It analyses their reasons and processes for introducing and maintaining innovation, and examines some related issues. The context is the hierarchical structure in which heads of year, department and faculty exercise horizontally defined responsibilities. It extends earlier case-study research of curriculum development in three comprehensive schools. Data was collected by two qualitative methods: by semi structured interviews with a known and consciously-selected sample from three separate schools in two authorities and by open-ended questionnaires mailed to a self-selecting but anonymous sample in a third authority. Triangulation was also achieved by an eclectic review of existing literature. The findings show that the middle-managers adopted three common, effective and generally applicable approaches, namely, consultation, investigation and training, to introduce their innovations and to increase teacher confidence, skill and competence. To maintain the innovations, they promoted team building to increase co-operation between staff. The purpose of innovating was to improve the quality of pupil learning: an expectation which had been commonly developed as a result of courses, practical experience and professional contact. There was no evidence of any systematic evaluation: it tended to be self-evaluative and intuitive with an emphasis on classroom events. The extent of the head's influence seemed to depend upon the degree of involvement and delegation by the head, the quality of the school's working environment, and the level of commitment of the middle-manager.