Successful Leadership in WWC schools

In 2008, the National Union of Teachers and National College for School Leadership, UK,  commissioned an interesting piece of research  to explore which styles of school leadership led to high achievement in schools with a white working class population.

This report is interesting enough. Not much stands out as being particular to white working class schools. The leaders in those schools appeared to follow the basic strategies, or very close variations, used by most successful school leaders.

It is not until I looked at the Narrative section and behind the descriptions of the heads themselves that something made sense to me: those heads that took the values of the community and brought them into the school had the most successful engagement of pupils.

“You take the values that exist in the community and create a sense of order, cohesion and continuity to those standards. Then people will sign up, with a sense of pride, and there is a flywheel effect.”

How different from the heads who wring their hands in despair at the “Feckless parents lying about on their sofas in front of the TV – how can we be expected to turn out high achievers with backgrounds like that?”

Douglas McGregor, the psychologist who in the 1960s characterised managers as holding Theory X or Theory Y would probably say that these successful school leaders held Theory Y assumptions: these children come from homes where parents want them to be successful, get along well with people, get the best job they can and make a contribution to society.

The other interesting point was that most of the successful WWC headteachers were themselves WWC.

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Mongon,D.  and  Chapman,C. (2008) Successful leadership for promoting the achievement of white working class pupils
School of Education, University of Manchester  for The National Union of Teachers and National College for School Leadership

Image credits: rhyme&reason

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