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Title: Trust and tension : the role of the primary school improvement partner in one local authority 2008-2011
Author: Ferries, Hilary Ann
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2013
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The thesis addresses the role of the primary School Improvement Partner (SIP) within the field of school improvement. In early 2004 the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) published a vision for a new relationship between central government and schools. One element of this vision was a new role: that of the School Improvement Partner. Following the General Election in 2010 the White Paper, 'The Importance of Teaching', ended the SIP role. This study is a reflection on the role of the primary SIP, through a case study in one urban Local Authority (LA). This intrinsic case study enables the voices of the different professionals to be heard as it explores and explains how different professionals navigated their professional world and made meaning of the SIP / headteacher relationship, particularly how closely the role of SIP followed the government brief, the tensions and conflict involved and the contribution of the SIP to educational change. The research used a mixture of methods: two sets of interviews with six SIPs and six headteachers, documentary analysis of government and LA policy papers, SIP reports and an interview with a recently retired National Strategies officer who was responsible for monitoring the SIP programme across the region. The data analysis illuminated initial concerns about the SIP role and its purpose. Headteachers were concerned about the introduction of the SIPs, and evidence from headteachers, SIPs and the author's own experience as a SIP indicated that the role was interpreted in different ways. Headteachers were wary of these new professionals and there were several areas of tension such as accountability, power and a nationally developed agenda that felt inflexible and not always relevant to headteachers or schools. However, trust developed over time. At its most successful the SIPs were acting as critical friends, providing focused support and challenge for headteachers to help them reflect on school improvement processes and outcomes through a constructive 2 dialogue. The culture of this LA made a difference to the programme and this raises implications for the way that LAs work with headteachers in the future. The thesis concludes that the sudden withdrawal of funding by the new Coalition government for the SIP role was unwelcome to the headteachers. There were variations in the way the role was lived by the headteachers and SIPs, in contrast to the national policy. The majority of headteachers were positive about having an objective 'critical friend' who helped them reflect. They believe there is a place for a partner with whom they can have confidential conversations and share aspects of leadership and school improvement issues, but that such relationships are most effective when built on trust and this takes time to develop. There are lessons to learn from this as we move into a self improving school system.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: X000 Education