Assessing the changes : an investigation into the middle leader leading change - the implementation of formative assessment

Moore, Elizabeth (2009). Assessing the changes : an investigation into the middle leader leading change - the implementation of formative assessment. EdD thesis The Open University.



In England the summative assessment stakes for schools have increased markedly over the last decade with the advent of league tables and value added scores. Research teams have shown empirically that learning can be improved when Assessment for Learning (AfL) strategies are embraced. As a Senior Manager in a secondary school, 1 was interested in how successfully AfL could be implemented and embedded in my school amidst a myriad of other initiatives.

This research considers in particular the role of subject middle managers (Heads of Faculty) in managing this change. It evaluates the extent to which AfL has been embraced by teachers by measuring both shifts in their values as well as in their practice. It also explores the factors which shape middle managers’ implementation of the change initiative by looking closely at four faculty case studies within the school. These include both personal qualities of the individual leaders such as leadership style, the leadership approach adopted, as well as factors within the team and school as a whole. These factors include structures and culture to secure change both within the faculties and across the organisation

Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used for evaluating how the change was undertaken and the extent of its success. However, the research is mainly a qualitative study which used interviewing as its primary research tool. Heads of Faculty, staff, students, OFSTED and consultants all provided their perspectives on the success of the implementation.

The analysis shows that Heads of Faculty used a combination of styles and strategies to secure change and they were supported in their endeavours by both team and whole school structures. Cultural changes included improved and increased discussion and collaboration. The composition of the team, staff understanding of the initiative, the nature of the subject itself and the lead of senior management emerged as factors shaping the effectiveness of the change. Training and continuing professional development were essential to underpin and ensure continued change in values and practice. In-classroom professional development, including coaching and team teaching/observation, proved to be the most effective CPD in securing change.

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