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The role of MATs in supporting or intervening in less-performing schools to facilitate continuous improvement: Evidence from MAT schools in challenging contexts in England

The role of MATs in supporting or intervening in less-performing schools to facilitate continuous improvement: Evidence from MAT schools in challenging contexts in England
The role of MATs in supporting or intervening in less-performing schools to facilitate continuous improvement: Evidence from MAT schools in challenging contexts in England
This paper is based on a follow-up research of our funded Ambition School Leadership (ASL) project which explored new-in-post principals of schools in challenging circumstances within Multi-academy Trusts -MATs- in England (presented at ICSEI 2019 in Norway). The aim of this conference paper is to understand the school improvement trajectory of schools in challenging contexts during the second year of their improvement cycle, in response to a radical school change and improvement and system-wide policy on academisation. We will further unpack the sequencing of improvement initiatives to maximize the chances of moving from the ‘Reinforce phase’ to ‘Refinement’ excellence’ (Matthews et al, 2014: 51). The government emphasis of ‘driving up standards’ through the expansion of academies which aim to address underperformance shifted its focus towards increasing school autonomy through school-to-school support and peer-learning (DfE, 2010) which ‘intended to liberate schools from the bureaucracy of local government influence’ (Armstrong and Ainscow, 2018: 2). As a result, this might suggest a structural change of governance while the level of autonomy in a self-improving system might be constrained by the macro policy and meso (Trust) policy mandates. Given that there is a growing literature on MATs (Greany, 2018; Hughes, 2019), our project seeks to understand emerging dynamics, agency and power relationships regarding decision making for improvement and school-to-school support arrangements. ‘Different kinds of formal and informal structures … are emerging that facilitate collaboration but are not necessarily compatible with the government’s preferred model.’ (Simkins et al, 2019: 332-333) In this paper, the role of MATs in supporting and/or intervening in less-performing schools will be also examined in order to facilitate continuous improvement through growing leaders and developing teachers’ intellectual capacity across schools within the same MAT.

Whilst MATs play a significant role in the school system, in this phase of the research, we seek to deepen our understanding by using semi-structured interviews of leaders at different levels of seniority in challenging contexts and MATs Chief Executive Officers, as well as scrutinizing MAT and internal school improvement documents which capture priorities and decision making by system leader bureaucrats and operational leaders.

Whilst this paper presentation is work in progress, preliminary findings will be discussed in the conference. The value of comparing leadership practices for improvement within schools in challenging contexts in different MATs relates to policy and practice, as it has the potential to inform leadership enactment within an under-researched area.
Kaparou, Maria
8f38ac79-a77e-489c-a766-c6bc2535c538
Downey, Christopher
bb95b259-2e31-401b-8edf-78e8d76bfb8c
Kelly, Anthony
1facbd39-0f75-49ee-9d58-d56b74c6debd
Kaparou, Maria
8f38ac79-a77e-489c-a766-c6bc2535c538
Downey, Christopher
bb95b259-2e31-401b-8edf-78e8d76bfb8c
Kelly, Anthony
1facbd39-0f75-49ee-9d58-d56b74c6debd

Kaparou, Maria, Downey, Christopher and Kelly, Anthony (2020) The role of MATs in supporting or intervening in less-performing schools to facilitate continuous improvement: Evidence from MAT schools in challenging contexts in England. International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement 33rd Annual Conference, , Marrakech, Morocco. 07 - 10 Jan 2020.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

This paper is based on a follow-up research of our funded Ambition School Leadership (ASL) project which explored new-in-post principals of schools in challenging circumstances within Multi-academy Trusts -MATs- in England (presented at ICSEI 2019 in Norway). The aim of this conference paper is to understand the school improvement trajectory of schools in challenging contexts during the second year of their improvement cycle, in response to a radical school change and improvement and system-wide policy on academisation. We will further unpack the sequencing of improvement initiatives to maximize the chances of moving from the ‘Reinforce phase’ to ‘Refinement’ excellence’ (Matthews et al, 2014: 51). The government emphasis of ‘driving up standards’ through the expansion of academies which aim to address underperformance shifted its focus towards increasing school autonomy through school-to-school support and peer-learning (DfE, 2010) which ‘intended to liberate schools from the bureaucracy of local government influence’ (Armstrong and Ainscow, 2018: 2). As a result, this might suggest a structural change of governance while the level of autonomy in a self-improving system might be constrained by the macro policy and meso (Trust) policy mandates. Given that there is a growing literature on MATs (Greany, 2018; Hughes, 2019), our project seeks to understand emerging dynamics, agency and power relationships regarding decision making for improvement and school-to-school support arrangements. ‘Different kinds of formal and informal structures … are emerging that facilitate collaboration but are not necessarily compatible with the government’s preferred model.’ (Simkins et al, 2019: 332-333) In this paper, the role of MATs in supporting and/or intervening in less-performing schools will be also examined in order to facilitate continuous improvement through growing leaders and developing teachers’ intellectual capacity across schools within the same MAT.

Whilst MATs play a significant role in the school system, in this phase of the research, we seek to deepen our understanding by using semi-structured interviews of leaders at different levels of seniority in challenging contexts and MATs Chief Executive Officers, as well as scrutinizing MAT and internal school improvement documents which capture priorities and decision making by system leader bureaucrats and operational leaders.

Whilst this paper presentation is work in progress, preliminary findings will be discussed in the conference. The value of comparing leadership practices for improvement within schools in challenging contexts in different MATs relates to policy and practice, as it has the potential to inform leadership enactment within an under-researched area.

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More information

Published date: 8 January 2020
Venue - Dates: International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement 33rd Annual Conference, , Marrakech, Morocco, 2020-01-07 - 2020-01-10

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 437254
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/437254
PURE UUID: 5ff77e09-c258-4686-bc02-e358f258e347
ORCID for Christopher Downey: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6094-0534
ORCID for Anthony Kelly: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4664-8585

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 22 Jan 2020 17:33
Last modified: 13 Dec 2021 02:57

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