Improving Urban Schools: Leadership and Collaboration

Improving Urban Schools: Leadership and Collaboration

Improving Urban Schools: Leadership and Collaboration

Improving Urban Schools: Leadership and Collaboration

Synopsis

The improvement of urban schools is one of the major challenges facing practitioners and policy-makers today. Issues related to poverty create particular difficulties in urban schools, and the emphasis on market-led improvement strategies has tended to add to these challenges. In addition, strategies for 'raising standards', as measured by aggregate test and examination results, can result in marginalisation or exclusion of some groups of learners. Drawing on research evidence, Improving Urban Schools addresses the question of how primary and secondary urban schools can be improved in a more inclusive way. The authors argue that urban schools and their communities have within them expertise that tends to be overlooked, and latent creativity that should be mobilised to move thinking and progress forward. They show that new approaches to leadership, various forms of collaborative school-to-school partnerships, and major changes in national policy development are needed to make use of this untapped energy. The book includes vivid accounts of these activities to shed light on what really happens in urban schools, and presents practical strategies for school leaders and practitioners who want to make a difference in urban schools.

Excerpt

Urban schools have historically been regarded as posing a series of problems for those who manage them, for those who teach in them and for those who attend them. In consequence, these problematic urban schools have frequently been the subject of a range of sometimes limited and sometimes counter-productive policy initiatives. Currently in the UK setting, all schools have been subjected to the reforming drive of a national system of inspections. The consequences have been that many urban schools have been designated as 'failing' in relation to the government's intention to raise standards.

In this collection, a number of contributors have come together to explore some alternative ways forward. This book sets out to explore some of the dilemmas that surround the urban school in the English context, although it does draw on research evidence from urban settings elsewhere, particularly from the USA. All the contributors to this series take a common approach towards urban schools. As they argue in the introduction to this collection, 'we refer to schools that are mostly located in declining inner-city and suburban areas, and where the population is drawn from the poorest and least advantaged sections of the community'. The contributors argue that neoliberal inspired reforms combined with a growth in economic polarisation in the UK have worked together to compound the marginalisation of some urban learners as well as widening the attainment gap. Thus, in this book, the impact of the wider social context, of what happens 'beyond the school gates' is attended to in a serious and scholarly manner.

'Improving Urban Schools' provides a thorough account of the policy background that frames the urban school. As with much research elsewhere, the contributors acknowledge the powerful impact that positive and enabling leadership can make to an individual school. As they also recognise, the 'trick' is to bring off a form of democratic leadership in challenging material circumstances and in a policy environment that contradicts the ethics and . . .

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