The literature on 'effective' schooling and school improvement affords a prominent place to the development of effective teaching and school leadership in its accounts of the various factors which combine to make up an effective school. In this chapter we will explore the mechanisms through which the account of effective teaching and school leadership have been defined and shaped by the body responsible for teacher education in England-the Teacher Training Agency (TTA). Throughout our chapter we will draw on our recent ESRC funded research project, The Policy Context and Impact of the Teacher Training Agency (Mahony and Hextall, 1997a).
The TTA was established by the Conservative Government in 1994 with the officially designated purpose of improving the quality of teaching, raising standards of teacher education and training and promoting teaching as a profession. To grasp the significance of its interventions, it is important to note that its establishment was a part of a general move to construct 'agencies' within whole areas of the public sector including health, social security, child benefit, the prison service and housing where the concept 'effectiveness' plays a significant role.
There are a number of ways in which the concerns of this book and of this chapter are intermeshed with developments in 'new public management', managerialism, or the contract state. Even though we cannot explore them in detail here (Mahony and Hextall, 1997b), three points need to be noted. First, school effectiveness is anchored tightly into the broader issues of competitiveness and efficiency which frame and contextualize much current public policy and practice. There is a background story to these developments which runs as follows. UK plc must become more competitive in relation to the global economy:
…smaller, medium sized enterprises in particular and the engineering companies all say we can't get the skills in the labour force that our competitors get in the rest of the world and that has an impact on UK competitiveness…[and that]…schools and universities have a particular responsibility to deliver the goods in relation to skills in the labour force. (TTA Board Member)
The quality of teaching is crucial in making some schools more effective than others, so the argument continues, therefore we need to produce more effective teachers. We can see this broader context of the 'competitive' state (Cerny, 1990) providing the legitimating framework for the TTA in the following quotation from the Chief Executive: