What have we learned after three decades of research into school? What are the messages for policy-makers, for schools, for classroom teachers, for parents and their children? What can we say with confidence about how schools improve? What do we want from our schools in the future and how can we achieve it? This book sets out to answer these questions, reviewing findings from seminal international work and from a major study conducted recently in Scotland, the Improving School Effectiveness Project. It builds up a fascinating picture of what effectiveness is, how it can be measured, and what it means for teachers, parents and pupils. It provides key quantitative data that shows just how schools can and do make a difference (but that their effects tend to be more powerful at different stages in a child's school career, and with differing effects for girls and boys, and for different school subjects).
From in-depth work with twenty-four 'case study' schools we are also given much rich qualitative evidence about, for instance, the links between attitudes and attainment within a school, about the ethos of a school and its capacity for change, about the significance of a school development plan in bringing about changes, and about the role and impact of 'critical friends' in pursuing improvement in schools.