Oxford universities support leadership development in city primary schools

Monday, December 1, 2014

Category: News

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L-R: Steve Dew, Headteacher Church Cowley St James; Prof Debra McGregor (Oxford Brookes); Jon Gray, Headteacher Cutteslowe; Dianne Carbon, Headteacher St John Fisher; Pat Kennedy, Oxford City Council; Cllr Jean Fooks, Oxford City Council; Prof Ian Menter (University of Oxford)

On 26 November, an event in Oxford marked the close of a two-year programme run by Oxford’s two universities and funded by the City Council to help primary school staff develop their leadership skills.

Senior and middle leaders from 14 primary schools in the city took part in the programmes which support efforts to improve the attainment levels of children at the schools.

Up to 40 school staff participated each year in a series of sessions led by international experts and leading scholars from the two universities. There were also regular meetings of ‘action learning sets’ in which teachers worked together on shared challenges.

At an event held at Peartree Holiday Inn, this year’s participants reported back on how the programme has affected leadership roles in their schools and talked about what progress they had made. Although not all of the annual test results are yet available across the schools, there has been a general improvement in terms of Ofsted gradings in the schools, as well as preliminary results showing higher attainment levels.

Councillor Pat Kennedy, Board Member for Education Attainment and Youth Ambition, says: “We are delighted that so many middle and senior leaders have taken part in the programme and that children’s attainment is rising.

“We have also agreed that the City Council will support headteachers to continue sharing best practice by providing pump priming funding for a collaborative partnership project led by city primary school headteachers.”

Programme Director Professor Ian Menter, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, says: ‘I am very pleased at the way school leaders have responded to the opportunities provided by this programme.

“There is a wide sense of growing confidence in these schools. However, we should be cautious about suggesting there is any direct link between this programme and improvement in the schools’ performance.

“The tests measuring the performance of children have improved but these improvements will have been achieved over a period of time. I think this progress reflects the deep and sustained commitment of the staff, the children and their families.”

The Deputy Director of the programme, Prof Debra McGregor of Oxford Brookes School of Education, says: “We were always determined to ensure that the programme would lead to continuing leadership development in these schools – in other words that the developments would continue after this programme had finished.

“Therefore, I am delighted that the schools themselves are establishing a network through which they will continue to provide support to each other and it is very pleasing that the City Council is supporting this.”

Attainment in the 11 schools on the leadership programme has improved in 2014. Overall for 7 year olds, over the two years, there has been a faster rate of progress in target schools than nationally.