Managing to survive : the organisation of small school support
The purpose of the research reported in this thesis has been to investigate some of the consequences of schemes of 'support' for small primary schools. In particular, attention has focused on the development of identified teacher cooperation among groups of small schools. An introductory part one provides an overview of the range of issues encompassed in what is sometimes referred to as the small school 'problem'. A deficit view of small rural schools is identified in 'official discourse': an official documentary reality is outlined, summarised under headings of 'curriculum' and 'cost'. Conflicting evidence from the research literature is presented to counter the official view of deficit. An attempt is made to locate a consideration of the small school problem within the context of discussion about 'community': in particular, the processes of decision-making which may contribute towards a view of a 'healthy' community and a role for education in community development. The notion of support for small schools was thought to reside in the official pathology. The research focuses initially on the provision of Education Support Grant (ESG) funding for specific officially approved projects to support groups of small schools. The frequency with which support has been organised across groups of small schools, usually referred to as 'clusters' or 'federations', led to its identification as conventional wisdom. Non-funded Headteacher initiatives to set up similar groupings of small schools without large scale funded support reflects the extent of this thinking. The research focuses on the development of cooperation among teachers working in these various groupings of small schools. In comparing funded projects and non-funded Headteacher initiatives the dual meaning of 'managing' in the title of this thesis becomes clear.