Exploring the applicability of a continuous improvement philosophy to a ‘self-improving school-led system’
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AbstractIn recent years the concept of a ‘self-improving school-led system’ has been at the heart of the English Government’s education policy, with a core focus on ‘high-autonomy-and-high-accountability’ within the system. With greater autonomy comes the expectation that schools will be the main drivers of systemic improvement to ensure effective outcomes. Adopting a continuous improvement (CI) approach may reduce the impact of the changeable nature within an open system, such as those attributed to schools. A CI philosophy has been demonstrated to be a critical influence for sustained performance within unpredictable environments in sectors outside of education. The study explores the applicability of a CI philosophy to support school improvement. This research is situated within a human activity system (HAS) based around the dynamics of school improvement within six schools, situated in the West Midlands, during 2016. The literature review demonstrated an agreement on the critical success factors (CSFs) required to develop a CI philosophy. These CSFs situate around leadership, people, process, purpose and culture. The research was positioned in a interpretivsit paradigm and used a Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) approach to explore the dynamics of school improvement within compulsory education due to the complexity of this HAS. This inductive process reveals a congruence of elements associated with CSFs of CI within a compulsory school setting. However, this study concludes that a CI philosophy would be unsustainable under the current educational climate in schools. This is due to missing or under-represented CSFs, in particular those related to leadership and culture. If schools are to meet new demands associated with the external and strategic environment, it is essential that clarification and understanding between the implementation of CI and the schools’ improvement agenda be explored further.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD).
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