Part of the Improving Schools series. To be published with several other titles in this series in April 2005. For the last few years there has been wave after wave of reform almed at improving the lot of the schools struggling at the bottom of the ladder of performance, and despite what can be interpreted as best intentions the problem persists. As a social problem it draws down significant sums of public money, it exercises many talented people, and yet, time after time we find that three, four, maybe five years down the road after extended efforts the impact of the work diffuses and the challenges remain, doggedly evident in people's daily lives. It suggests that perhaps something is wrong in our interpretation, in our analysis, in our approach and our consequent measure of effect of our activity with difficult schools. Improving Schools in Difficulty is structured around two parts, part one examines the principles of engagement with schools in difficulty and part two looks at ways of improving the process of supporting schools in difficulty.
Paul Clarke is Managing Director of IQEA and is a lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Frontpiece - a matter of definition Part one: Schools in difficulty: a matter of principle Part two: Improving the process of schools in difficulty Frontpiece - a matter of definition Part one: Schools in difficulty: a matter of principle Working with schools in Extremely Challenging Circumstances. Paul Clarke, David Reynolds & Alma Harris The politics of improvement: what hope now for working-class kids? Terry Wrigley Learning disadvantage and schools in challenging circumstances. Richard Riddell What is special about special measures? Perspectives from the Inside. Maria Nicolaidou Some Issues and Problems in Evaluating Changes and Improvements in 'Low-Performing' Schools. John Gray Improving Schools in Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Areas - A Review of Research Evidence. Daniel Muijs, Alma Harris and Christopher Chapman, Louise Stoll and Jennifer Russ Part two: Improving the process of schools in difficulty Putting our heads together: a study of headteacher collaboration as a strategy for school improvement. Mel Ainscow, Mel West and Maria Nicolaidou Promoting High Expectations in Challenging Circumstances: Meanings, Evidence and Challenges for School Leaders. Louise Stoll and John MacBeath Raising attainment in schools serving communities with high levels of socio-economic disadvantage: The experience of a school in a former coalfield area. Christopher Chapman and Jen Russ Endpiece Legitimacy and Action Paul Clarke