“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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