Education in Urban Contexts
Another important research area within the School's programme of research on policy, leadership and management in education is concerned with the development of educational responses to low achieving learners and others who experience marginalisation within current arrangements. These groups include (but are not restricted to) learners from economically poor families and communities, and learners from certain ethnic groups. Since these groups tend to be concentrated in the disadvantaged areas of towns and cities, there is a particular interest in urban education. There is also a strong applied focus in order to provide understandings that have direct relevance to practitioners and policy-makers.
The Centre for Equity in Education (http://www.education.manchester.ac.uk/research/centres/cee/) focuses particularly on working with practitioners and policy makers to develop responses to disadvantage in urban contexts. Accounts of this research can be found in the Centre for Equity in Education's annual reports, in Leading Improvements in Urban Schools, edited by Mel Ainscow and Mel West, and published by Open University Press, and in reports and papers from the projects listed below. Currently, staff are involved in funded research and development initiatives in Cheshire, Blackburn, Manchester, Nottingham, Oldham, and Tameside, and in partnership with the six Merseyside LEAs.
Other projects that fall under this general theme include two studies, funded by DflD, that focus on ways to increase children's access to and participation in education from rural areas of India and Zambia . There is also a project on the education of ethnic minorities in the North West.
Some recent projects in relation to this theme include:
The Leadership Development Unit
Set up by the DfES, the Unit carries out development and research activities in schools and LAs where there are low levels of student attainment. Most recently, these have focused on the impact of the Government's Leadership Incentive Grant. The Unit publishes advice papers based on the findings of its work.
Achieving sustainable improvements in urban schools
This study, funded by the DfES, examined progress in secondary schools serving disadvantaged communities in which progress has been sustained over a period of years in order to learn about factors that are associated with their success
Putting heads together: a study of school-to-school cooperation
This study analysed an initiative in which three relatively successful schools partnered a 'failing school' in order to foster improvements in its work. The account raises some interesting possibilities with respect to ways of supporting schools in difficult circumstance, although the approach adopted is not without its own difficulties.
Linking behaviour, learning and leadership
This National College for School Leadership project has led to the development of a strategy for reviewing and developing leadership within groups of schools in order to foster improvements in behavior. The research was carried out in partnership with ten practicing headteachers.
Developing a LA strategy for school improvement
Working as partners with advisers in one LA over a three-year period, this study contributed to the strengthening of its leadership for school improvement strategy. Evidence collected showed how apparently successful approaches can have a perverse influence on the way LAs operate.
Transforming secondary education
Carried out on behalf of the DfES, this study has monitored the impact of a strategy to improve the performance of secondary schools in one urban LA. The study points to the potential power of school-to-school collaboration and draws out the implications for leadership in the field.
The Role of Schools in Area Regeneration
This study for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation explored the role of schools in promoting the regeneration of disadvantaged areas. It developed models of how schools might operate and argued for a more coherent local and national policy framework to guide schools' work.
Governance and Service Quality in Schools
This study, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, examines the role played by school governors in schools serving disadvantaged areas. In four case-study areas, researchers are exploring how members of disadvantaged communities can help shape the schools which serve them.
Education and Poverty: conceptualising the evidence base
This study, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, reviews the literature on poverty and education in order to identify the principal conceptualisations which underpin that literature. The project has produced a 'map' of the poverty and education field; identified problematic assumptions and gaps in evidence and outcomes evaluations within each conceptualisation; identified potential areas for dialogue between conceptualisations, and identified ways in which various conceptualisations might be inter-related.
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