School Environment and Leadership: Evidence Review

School Environment and Leadership: Evidence Review

This School Environment and Leadership: Evidence Review marks the next phase in the Great Teaching Toolkit project.

Students’ academic learning in schools is primarily determined by what classroom teachers do. However, there is good evidence that the professional environment in the school can also affect students’ learning, in a range of ways. The responsibility for creating and maintaining the most conducive professional environment lies with school leaders.

Despite the undoubted importance of school leadership, existing research tells us little that is trustworthy about what skills and knowledge school leaders should have, what they should do in any given situation, how we should train and support them, or exactly how their actions may be expected to benefit students, in terms of both attainment and equity. Many leadership researchers and trainers offer plentiful advice and make strong claims, but we judge that little of this is well-defined, actionable and grounded in robust evidence.

To cater for different audiences, we have split the findings from our evidence review into four separate but inter-related documents:

School Environment and Leadership: Evidence Review

1. A Model for School Environment and Leadership

This document draws on a comprehensive review of existing literature (112 studies) and identifies a set of school factors for which there is good evidence that they are related to student outcomes. These school-level factors are our current best bets for school leaders to pay attention to. It is intended to have a constructive, action focus and includes recommendations to school leaders on how to use the model.

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School Environment and Leadership: Evidence Review

2. Methodological challenges in school leadership research

This second documents sets out in technical detail the key methodological problems faced by research in school leadership, and hence why we are sceptical of many of its claims.

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School Environment and Leadership: Evidence Review

3. Evidence that school leadership and environment matter

This third document identifies a selection of studies that we believe contain the most defensible claims and the strongest evidence about the factors we have included in the Model for School Environment and Leadership.

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School Environment and Leadership: Evidence Review

4. Methodology underpinning the evidence review

This fourth document provides technical details of the literature search and synthesis process that underpins the other three. In this document you will find a set of research questions and search strategies, along with a list of 112 studies identified through the search and screening process.

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What next?

The Great Teaching Toolkit project has always included a strong element of evaluation and learning, and the addition of the School Environment and Leadership: Evidence Review enhances both of these features.

By creating, trialling and publishing feedback tools to build on the model, we hope not only to help thousands of teachers and leaders receive better, more actionable feedback; we also aim to learn more about the characteristics of school environments that matter most to students’ outcomes, and the leadership levers that can be operated to enhance them. Find out more about the forthcoming School Environment and Leadership Feedback Tool.




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