1. Executive Summary
The overall aim of this commissioned project, led by Professor Vivienne Griffiths and Dr Andrew Lambirth at Canterbury Christ Church University, is to identify new models of leadership in Kent schools, their characteristics, benefits and challenges to schools. It builds on recent initiatives in Kent schools as set out by the Advisory Service for Kent (2009), responding to an analysis and identification of school leadership needs (ASK 2008). We were particularly asked to look at:
- what schools have learnt from introducing new models of leadership
- how they prepared for change
- their professional needs in the run up to and during the change process
- the barriers to change
- the enablers.
1.1 Summary of work undertaken
The study involved:
a) scrutiny of available data on new models of leadership in Kent schools;
b) analysis of the literature and consultation material;
c) questionnaires to headteachers of federations (N=19);
d) interviews with headteachers of federations (N=16).
The interim report presented a description and analysis of the questionnaire responses, which dealt in particular with preparation for change and professional needs during this period of development. In this final report, analysis of the interview data is presented, together with analysis of relevant literature on new models of school leadership.
1.2 Key findings
- Origins of federations often focus on the need for a link between stronger and less successful schools, as well as community needs.
- Clear vision and aims are expressed, particularly by executive heads.
- Federation and community school aims are usually linked to community development.
- Federations are usually but not always in deprived communities.
- Many federation aims included new buildings and/or a joint federation site.
- All federations had joint governing bodies or were moving towards this.
Benefits of federations:
- Greater support for headteachers
- Distributed leadership to senior and middle management
- Shared curriculum, within or cross-phase
- Sharing of good practice, teaching and pastoral approaches
- Shared resources
- Joint or semi-joint timetabling
- Wider offer of subjects, especially at A-level
- Joint CPD, including training for teaching assistants and trainee teachers
- Improved standards, attendance and behaviour
- Range of benefits to the community.
- Resistance by staff, parents and governors
- Heavy workload, especially for executive heads
- Need to change school cultures, especially between selective and non-selective schools
- Financial pressures; not necessarily savings
- Pressures to raise standards
- Federations not generally recognised by Ofsted, so separate inspections.
- Case studies and of successful federations and other new leadership models to be collected.
- Dissemination of good practice at headteacher conferences and other events.
- Training for executive heads, senior and middle management.
- Support groups, ‘buddying’ and mentoring for executive heads and headteachers.
- Training for governors, parents and other staff.
- Improved communication of aims to staff, governors, parents and pupils.
- Further research into the development of federations and other new models of leadership.