The innovative nature of the resource:
The Working Class challenges current orthodoxy on how a learning and teaching resource should be structured. Usually, educational leadership instruction is focused on activity, task and impact. These are without doubt vital aspects of school improvement and leadership and management. However, if it were so transactional then we would not see the embedded underachievement within our system that has become typified by some areas struggling to overcome disadvantage. This is what this title addresses. It's about the why. It is about the perspective, context, understanding and attitude which underpin the approaches and behaviours which will then indeed see transactional leadership successful. As one deputy head teacher at my Trust said, -œThe Working Class provides the foundation of understanding and belief which is the foundation for genuine school improvement.-
We have used a variety of the chapters as thought pieces and training prompts to always approach school improvement through the lens of empathy, walking some footsteps in the shoes of those we serve.
The impact on learning and the work of the teacher in the classroom, to what extent and in which areas:
The book has had a significant impact for the following reasons:
1. Staff surveys show that the emphasis within the trust, based on this text, on family and community engagement has been a key retention strand. (88% of respondents show this is a factor for staying.)
2. At the whole- Trust CPD, we spent the day exploring the chapter Kids Like Jim and then all staff (250 in total) reflected on their own practice and looked at how this would change and inform their communication and engagement. (78% of staff believe this has strongly or somewhat improved and influenced their practice.)
3. Senior leaders have moved their position from one of monitoring (-˜weighing the pig') to modelling (-˜feeding the pig') in response to our repositioning in order to look at learning and reduce high-stakes accountability to remember our commitment to all.
4. We no longer speak of social mobility. Our Trust is committed to social justice.
How the title supports or enhances the everyday life or work of teachers, pupils or schools:
We use a different chapter each week at an executive level as a thought and engagement piece. All staff have extracts, which they read and discuss as part of appraisal. This has refocused our vision and values and we now have a much more focused set of statements which have been crafted and created by the community based on CAIRS: Care, Aspiration, Inspiration, Respect and Stewardship.
The book particularly influenced the adoption of stewardship as we remembered and co-opted the belief that we are the guardians, not owners, of our schools. This has meant over 50 more staff have engaged with Twitter in order to follow, share and engage with contributors on a wider scale and has promoted much better event horizon scanning as well as engagement from leaders on a system level.
Cost-effectiveness in terms of educational aims and results -“ not just price:
The value of the book is immeasurable. It has led to a change in mindset not just of individuals but of the institution we serve. It is a book which has fundamentally shifted the zeitgeist of our Trust from compliance to liberation: from doing to, to doing with; from a silo to a hub; and from schooling to education.
I cannot overestimate the impact of this book on the Trust other than to say we improved our staff retention rate from 55% to 95% in one year as a result of the impact on vision and values in affecting the culture and climate of the Trust. In terms of monetary value, we made over '£125,000 of savings within recruitment compared to the prior year.
This book isn't just about strong messages; it is a call to be radical in a way that builds, not destroys, our capacity to see a fairer and more equal society.