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Title: The sustainability of schools with a history of failure : viability, performance trends and social capital
Author: Birch, Y. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis aims to examine the extent and type of progress schools make during the post-Special Measures period in order to achieve ‘sustainability’ which is defined in terms of three factors: viability, performance trends and social capital. The viability and performance trends of an exhaustive sample of all 55 secondary schools that, by the year 2003, had been out of Special Measures for at least there years were investigated using data available in the public domain. Central to this research is the implementation of a measuring instrument to evaluate the stock of organisational social capital at a point in time. 499 teachers in a sample of 10 of these schools were surveyed in order to measure social capital and develop an overview of the patterns of trust and pedagogic interactions across each school. Interviews in 4 case study schools with 40 teachers were focused on identifying organisational norms and the processes, activities and/or behaviours that developed social capital through the post-Special Measures period. Discussion of the findings is inevitably drawn to the barriers that these schools face in achieving sustainable improvement. Although most schools recover from the drop in pupil that generally follows Special Measures, a minority continue to be undescribed with static or declining rolls. This negatively impacts on their viability through diminished resources and continuing threats of closure. The national trend of linear improvement on the ‘headline’ performance indicator was found to be rare with performance characterised more by fluctuation. The social capital measuring instrument revealed significant differences between schools. Importantly, it showed that the social capital developed through a period of adversity was not always sustained over time. This thesis suggests that a social capital perspective can be useful in explaining why schools in challenging circumstances find it difficult to generate improvement as well as offering insights into how they might sustain it.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available