Transforming Schools--Illusion or Reality

September 2005
More details
  • Publisher
    Trentham Books
  • Published
    20th September 2005
  • ISBN 9781858563640
  • Language English
  • Pages 176 pp.
  • Size 5.75" x 8.75"

This intriguing book challenges the usual idea of how a weak or failing school can be turned into a successful one by the simple introduction of effective leadership and management. Bernard Barker describes the journey of a struggling British Midlands comprehensive through special measures.

As a participant researcher in the process, the author relates how government inspectors impose a conventional regime, based on improved leadership, to drag the institution from the mire. But he shows that schools, heads, teachers, and pupils are infinitely diverse and have an infinite range of motivations, priorities, and personalities. Based on his experience, he argues that imposing strict government-inspired improvement models cannot solve all the problems of an institution that is defined not only by its leaders and teachers but also by the complexities of its organizational context and social geography.

Challenging conventional wisdom, the book argues that although a school can quickly be made to show the 11 key effectiveness characteristics, this does not always lead to an improvement in the prescribed indicator for success--exam results. The book develops an alternative conception of how leaders improve their schools.

This in-depth and analytical yet thoroughly human account of a school’s struggle away from the stigma of special measures is a must-read for all involved in education, from policymakers and officials to local authorities, researchers, leader-watchers, heads, teachers, governors, and parents.

"This ethnographic study of one school is a good place to start to understand the changes, the leadership involved, and the highly charged emotional atmosphere that accompanies a struggling school designated as 'failing'."

- Scottish Educational Review

" [A] human story told from the viewpoints of children, parents and teachers; it offers much insight and practical advice."

- Evaluation and Research in Education

Bernard Barker

Bernard Barker is Emeritus Professor of Educational Leadership and Management, School of Education, University of Leicester. He headed comprehensive community colleges in Cambridgeshire and Leicester for 19 years and is the author of the acclaimed Transforming Schools – Illusion or Reality?