The influence of self evaluation on school effectiveness
This thesis discusses the outcomes of four years of research. The main purpose was to determine the influence of self-evaluation on school effectiveness and investigate any relevant issues. The qualitative research began with an extensive literature search to examine the body of knowledge which already existed and set the planned empirical work within the relevant theoretical context. This provided a stimulus for a set of research questions which helped express the intellectual puzzle. Data was gathered using a questionnaire which was completed by class teachers from the researcher's primary school and interviews which were administered initially to a group of primary head teachers from a small Scottish local authority. It became apparent that this sample was limiting so some Irish head teachers with an interest in self-evaluation and a group of educationalists from a variety of European countries were included. The results highlighted a number of links between self-evaluation and the features of effective schools and these have been fully explored in the dissertation. The findings indicated that there was a perception by many that self-evaluation does have a significant influence on school effectiveness and the extent of this depends on factors such as leadership which affects the level of morale, ownership and commitment to change. Good leadership can help develop a positive climate of trust and professional respect. Effective schools are happy communities characterised by high expectations of pupil achievement, ownership, reflection and a focus on the quality of learning and teaching. The research underlined the difficulties of measuring school effectiveness, the need for honesty and rigour when self-evaluating and the problems associated with insider research. Participants tended to link performance indicators with development planning and target setting and considered that such indicators contributed to the management of change by providing a standard set of criteria within a helpful framework to give teachers control and a degree of autonomy. Although accountability should not be the main purpose, self-evaluation was perceived to provide a means of contributing to school effectiveness by making policies and practices public. The thesis compares previous research with the views and experiences of practitioners and concludes with a series of recommendations arising from the study.