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Title: Organisation and achievement within the comprehensive school
Author: Williamson, D.
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1976
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Over the past twenty years rapid changes have taken place in secondary education in England. During this time Comprehensive Education, part of our secondary system, has developed in many forms. This research is concerned with the first five years in the development of two differing comprehensive schools. Both became comprehensive in 1969. School A, an ex-Grammar School is seen as a school which has metamorphosed from the traditional pattern of secondary education, is compared with School B, a new purpose built comprehensive school developing a new concept of educational organisation. The techniques used and the methodological strategies employed were in part determined by the overall nature of the study, which was on a part-time basis with limited resources. Nevertheless over the five year period, observation, interviews with respective headmasters, teachers, students and parents, questionnaires together with the analysis of documents gave considerable data on the significant programme features of both schools. The hypothesis is concerned with the differences between the two schools, and the effect that these differences have on the achievement of the pupils. The hypothesis states 1. That the type of organisation developed by school B, sometimes referred to as the "open type" wall offer a wider range of students the opportunity to succeed academically, and that this will be reflected in terms of the results obtained in external examinations. 2. That the type of organisation developed by school A, and sometimes referred to as the "olosed type" will impose limits upon certain students opportunity to succeed and that this will be reflected in terms of results obtained in external examinations. 3. That the organisation which shows greatest concern for the students as individuals will be more appreciated by the students. 4. That the organisation which shows greatest concern for the individual will experience difficulties in getting parents to understand, and accept, what the new ideas are about. Shortly after the present study began G. M. Esland (1971) brought a new dimension to the enquiry into the aspects of teachers' professional knowledge, and school organisation as a whole. The theoretical techniques developed by Esland are used in this study, for it was held that the two schools under consideration would he suitable to the elaborated Psychometric and Phenomenological paradigm areas. Because time was a limiting factor, observation within the two schools was minimised. The development of the study therefore took place around interview schedules which using Esland's theoretical constructs, were directed at teachers, students and parents. In May 1972 two years and two teams after the introduction of comprehensive education, the teachers of Mathematics, English and Science in both schools were interviewed. At the same time, twenty three matched pairs of students, matched in terms of their primary school education and primary sohool recommendations, one of the pair going to school A the other to sohool B, were tested in English, Mathematics and Study Skills using the Bristol Achievement Test. After four years and two terms in March 1974, the matched students were interviewed, this together with a questionnaire on school climate and organisation, provided information about their school experience. Finally in Autumn of 1974, the parents of the matched students from schools A and B were interviewed and their attitudes and opinions concerning the schools were recorded. The results obtained show that the idea of using the elaborated psychometric and phenomenological paradigm areas as distinct and contrasting approaches was an over-simplification. Analysis of the teacher and student interview schedules revealed that paradigm areas were subject specific, and at times dependent upon the unique blend of experience of the teacher concerned, rather than school based. Esland's ideas nevertheless provided a useful tool for analysis, for on a departmental level the English Department of school B functioned within a phenomenological framework. The Mathematics and Science Departments of both schools were found to operate within the psychometric paradigm. At the school level fundamental differenoes were revealed, these were confirmed by the instruments used to measure school climate and school organisation. These differences were particularly noticeable in the areas of social control within the schools. When relating the type of organisation to results in external examinations, school B provided a wider area of opportunity for examination success, this was reflected in the pattern of results obtained. The effects of the new approaches to learning as developed by the English Department of school B were reflected in the degree of involvement shown by the students, but not in the results in external examination. Achievement in Mathematics appears to be related to the efficiency of the departments in their respective schools, whilst results in Science indicate the advantages of the unified curriculum of school B, compared to that of school A. The less flexible type of organisation as developed by school A, was shown to place restrictions upon the achievement of certain pupils , within the school. These restrictions are shown to be concerned within that school. However, less flexibility can lead to greater efficiency in certain specified areas. School A for example was shown to be much more realistic in its approach to external examinations and consequently achieved greater success than school B, in Mathematics and English. In terms of the differences between the school, examination results are important, there are however equally important aspects of school life, these are best described in terms of school climate or tone. It is in this area that school B, together with schools wishing to develop a similar organisation face a dilemma. For the research shows that a school with a high degree of democratic control, though popular with the students, faces the difficulty of getting the parents to accept a less rigid view of what schooling is all about.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available