Strategic leadership: board members in areas of high deprivation 'deliverololgy or systems approach?'

Baxter, Jacqueline (2016). Strategic leadership: board members in areas of high deprivation 'deliverololgy or systems approach?'. In: The American Educational Research Association Conference 2016,’Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies', 8-13 Apr 2016, Washington D.C..


Rapid and intense changes to the English education system, particularly since 2010 have created a quasi-market operating environment for schools. Research into other areas of the public services reveals that the ability of boards to create externally facing effective strategy, is vital for their survival and ongoing improvement, yet in education we know little about how school boards and the 300,000 volunteer board members within them understand, create and develop strategic direction for their schools. The paper explores board members’ understandings of strategic leadership in multi-academy trusts in England and to what extent they follow a command and control or ‘deliverology’ approach based around targets, outputs, standards and budgetary control (Seddon 2003) and to what extent they take a systems approach-looking wider at their strategy in terms of the system in which it is located (Plesk, 2001). In so doing it explores how governor innovations in strategy have the potential to ‘strengthen the ability of the systems to shoulder its own burden and to strengthen schools’ ability to self-improve’ (Hargreaves, 2010), by discussing (i) To what extent does governor understanding of strategy reflect a command and control or a systems approach? And (ii) What are the implications of this for governor development in the future? The paper concludes that a predominantly command and control approach to strategy may be stifling school development in this area.

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