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Title: Could do better : the journey to improve a small primary school
Author: Longman, Julia
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2011
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available