“Out of the Woods and into the Desert – Leadership of Forest Schools: A UAE Case Study”. Hendawy, Z., Webb, C., July 2019. Conference: BELMAS Annual Conference 2019 – ‘Educational Leadership for Social Change’. At: Jury’s Inn, Hinckley Island, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. 12-14th July 2019
This paper presents research on an exploration of leadership in Forest Schools as a model of nature-based learning. A needs analysis indicated demand for creating nature-based learning environments in the UAE. Therefore, this study investigated leadership in UAE schools and changes required to initiate nature-based learning relevant to the UAE context of nature, culture, and heritage, over the period from April to June 2018. The first research question focused on establishing a thorough understanding of leadership styles and characteristics in Forest Schools by interviewing a range of international Forest School leaders and experts (n=10). The second research question explored leadership style and characteristics of UAE school leaders across Abu Dhabi schools using a survey questionnaire(n=74). These questions were put forward to offer a clear understanding of the relationship between leadership and creating outdoor learning experiences. Literature and interview results indicated that with leadership distributed at different organisational levels Forest School Principals allow great flexibility to adapt to environments pertaining to nature pedagogy. School leaders interviewed suggested they adopted a transformational leadership style which can positively encourage and promote change required to create nature-based learning opportunities. However, roles and responsibilities in UAE schools need to be distributed to involve more teachers indecision making, and to motivate and empower them to take part in the required change towards nature-based learning. On the basis of the above, it was possible to derive a nature-based leadership model with specific style and characteristics that offers several ways to initiate nature-based settings in UAE schools.
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“120 Ways to Lose your Teachers: Teacher Retention Factors for School Leaders to Act On”. Longdon, S., Webb, C., July 2019. Conference: BELMAS Annual Conference 2019 – ‘Educational Leadership for Social Change’.At: Jury’s Inn, Hinckley Island, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. 12-14th July 2019.
This case study explores factors that contribute to teacher turnover and the opinions of educators on what can be improved to aid retention based on a study conducted in an international school in Dubai, UAE. Collecting attitudinal data and determining the most significant factors that affected teachers’ employment decisions supported the evaluation of leadership’s impact on the retention of international-school teachers. Two stages of data collection were conducted in a mixed method design, consisting of semi-structured interviews (n=10) and asurvey (n=80). The sequential sampling and staged research approach were usedto add credibility to the research by synthesising the findings from bothmethods to support triangulation. The study discovered that in the opinions of these educators, 120 factors either cause or contribute to teacher turnover and retention. Of this multitude of factors, leadership was the most significant reason teachers left the School, which was primarily caused by the lack of appreciation or recognition leaders show towards their staff. The main reasons teachers stayed in the School was due to the familiarity they had established with their colleagues and the work environment. Teachers believed that leadership’s behaviour was the most significant area to improve to retain teachersdue to the perceived lack of recognition, support, empathy, approachability, instructional involvement, autonomy and trust in teachers their leaders provide. These findings provide educational leaders in international schools around the world, and in particular, Dubai, valuable information on what influences teacher employment plans. With this knowledge, leaders can select effective leadership styles and interventions to retain teachers.
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“Leadership of Authentic Values-Based Recruitment in Schools: Implications for Teacher Retention”. Nolan, B., Webb, C., July 2019, Conference: BELMAS Annual Conference 2019 – ‘Educational Leadership for Social Change’. At: Jury’s Inn, Hinckley Island, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. 12-14th July 2019.
Since the turn of the 21st century, educational recruitment processes have evolved as globalisation has created a need for organisations to focus on attracting international as well as local talent. A distinctive global teaching labour market and enhanced teacher mobility have emerged as a result. Concurrently, a need for a reemphasis on values within education has been reported globally. In the UAE, the international school market is vast, and expanding at a rapid rate. The government has responded with Vision 2021; an ambitious set of goals that prioritize the development of a first-rate education system by the year 2021. A key issue challenging the vision is high teacher turnover rates, with official reports identifying figures up to 60% in some UAE schools. Subsequently, attributing adverse effects on the quality of educational instruction across the country have been identified. There is therefore an urgent need to define strategies in order to lower turnover rates and avoid further adverse effects. This study proposes values-based educational practices, particularly values-based recruitment as a key tool for educational leaders in order to improve teacher retention and lower teacher turnover. The 2018 study assessed the extent to which educational leaders in the UAE are currently engaged with values-based recruitment (VBR) practices and the potential for their application across UAE schools, with an emphasis on lowering teacher turnover. Mixed method research was conducted in which surveys and interviews were undertaken across four international schools in the UAE from April to June 2018. Responses obtained from educational leaders (n=10) during the qualitative interview phase and classroom teacher (n=142) survey respondents during the interview phase identified a strong correlation between values-based leadership practices and teacher turnover rates, explored through statistical tools including regression analysis. As a result, a model to support authentic values-based recruitment for educational leaders in Dubai schools is presented and discussed with an emphasis on increasing values-based recruitment practices in order to address high teacher turnover rates. This raises further questions as to how these findings may be of value to the teacher recruitment and retention crisis in the UK, and whether it would be possible to adapt the developed model for implementation in socio-economically diverse contexts where a values-based recruitment and education model could also respond to current and evolving challenges, which will be discussed at the conference.
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Without Reflection, We Go Blindly: The Direction-Giving Power of the Process of Writing Education Leadership & Management Reflective Journal Entries During Times of Change in the UAE. Webb, C., July 2019, Conference: BELMAS Annual Conference 2019 – ‘Educational Leadership for Social Change’. At: Jury’s Inn, Hinckley Island, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. 12-14th July 2019.
To complete the titular quote, “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful” (Margaret J. Wheatley). Conversely, this paper highlights the learning achieved and focus gained for the continuing professional development of 10 UAE-based current and aspiring school leader managers as evidenced in their own qualitative reflective journal entries as completed over the duration of 7 months. The 10 research participants each made 10 entries of approximately 200 words into their work-based diaries over the time period from October 2017 to April 2018. To give structure to the task they were required to focus on a different topic pertaining to education leadership and management in each entry, to reflect on their own experience or observations of others in practice, to relate this to relevant theory, to create personal learning and professional development targets, and to reflect on their own progress made over the course of the 7 months. The richly qualitative yet pithy accounts collated provide insights into the UAE’s current efforts in educational leadership and management transitions from the challenges of the autocratic transactional towards transformational leadership approaches grounded in more collegial and distributed styles. Amidst the backdrop of this dramatic tension, the research participants each relayed snippets of their own stories of sense-making, while clinging to their own visions of ideals of leadership and management in education, and continually striving ambitiously to meet them. In spite of the use of reflective journal writing being far from new, the context, content and mode of application in evolving time and space invariably leads to new insights – in this case on the emergence of a new group of visionary education leaders in the context of a rapidly changing UAE knowledge-based society and post-oil economy. Extracts from the data to be discussed will highlight the highs and the lows of such journeys, and point to new directional futures.
“Best Practice in School Leadership Maximising Social Change in Areas of Disadvantage: Lessons from Liverpool”. Webb, C., Newport, S., July 2019 – Conference: BELMAS Annual Conference 2019 – ‘Educational Leadership for Social Change”. At: Jury’s Inn, Hinckley Island, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. 12-14th July 2019.
Since 2012 more than 20 Merseyside schools, mostly in the RI (Requiring Improvement) category have been engaged in an ongoing university partnership with the aim of adding value to their school improvement journey under the umbrella of an unfunded project referred to as ‘The Hope Challenge’. The Hope Challenge Programme has been developed to support the work of Local Authorities and HMIs in working with schools in socioeconomic challenging circumstances and those judged as requiring improvement. Liverpool Hope University is working proactively with Local Authorities, regional HMIs and schools to lead North West collaboration with the aim of improving the life chances of children. For the purposes of the Hope Challenge Programme – schools in socioeconomic circumstances are deemed to be those where Pupil Premium is at least 25%. The purpose of the ‘Hope Challenge’ is to support Liverpool Hope University and its partner Local Authorities to ensure that all schools within their influence are at least ‘good’, a particular challenge for many LAs with reduced capacity. This particular project is Liverpool Hope University’s response to the new ITE Ofsted requirement to work with schools in ‘challenging socioeconomic circumstances (Pupil Premium at least 25%) and those judged as requiring improvement’ (RI) by Ofsted. The benefit of working collaboratively is to ensure coherent and planned ways of working that support the improvement plans of schools to create synergy, add value and build capacity, rather than onerous parallel working which has little impact. The Programme also develops research informed teacher education and enables staff and students to undertake action research and to use their findings to inform future practice. This paper will report on the emerging narrative highlighting the important role of school leadership and their buy-in and ongoing commitment to the impact of this process, and how this has now evolved into impacts on the curriculum and pupil achievement in areas of disadvantage. Through 7 qualitative interviews, data has been collected around the impact of this effort so far, on teachers and their practice, in addition to the role of leadership. The work of Leithwood and Robinson has been used to articulate an emerging framework of best practice demonstrated by leaders arising from successful experiences of engagement in the project. This framework and qualitative findings from the interviews will be relayed at the conference as lessons learned with recommendations for creating impact for social change through such endeavours.
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