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No. 14, November 2002

Heads you Win

Emma Phillips writes:

The Heads You Win project, funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust, evaluated twelve projects across England and Wales aiming to develop headteachers' management/leadership skills to raise standards of pupil achievement. The first follow-up of the project was published by CEDAR in February 2002. A questionnaire survey sent to the participating headteachers showed that the Heads You Win programme was being sustained beyond the initial stage and claims were made that there had been a discernible impact upon pupils' learning.

Seventry per cent of all headteachers involved in the project responded to the questionnaire. The majority (84.4%) of headteachers felt that the project would impact upon their own professional development until the spring term of 2002 at least, a positive outcome. Interestingly, it was the opportunity to meet with other headteachers and share practice (40%) as well as the ability to have time for and discretion over their own professional development (39%) which had been the most valued parts of their work in Heads You Win. Overwhelmingly, (95%) of the headteachers felt that the project had impacted positively upon some or all of their staff, with more than half (56%) considering that most staff including support staff had benefitted from their involvement in the project. Whilst nearly eighty percent of the headteachers felt that there had been a discernible impact upon pupils, there was some caution amongst the heads as it was difficult for them to show the direct connection between the work of the project and pupil gains.

The next stage of the project was to seek such evidence of the project's impact upon pupils, and this work has not yet formally been reported.

Educational provision for children with specific speech and learning difficulties in England and Wales

Geoff Lindsay writes:

This study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, comprised surveys of LEAs and speech and language therapy services across England and Wales, together with interviews with managers of LEA special educational needs services and SLT services, as well as with heads and principals of schools and units. The aim was to identify the provision made for this group of children, and this issues affecting policy making and practice.

The study identified seven over-arching themes. For example, provision was made primarily in mainstream schools rather than in specialised facilities such as language units. However, language units were commonly provided by LEA's at Key Stage 1 & 2 but the modal number was just 1 per LEA at each of these key stages. Furthermore, such provision was less available during the secondary stage, and very scarce post-16. The professionals varied in their approaches to these children, with SLTs tending to prefer a diagnostic approach whereas educational personnel favoured need-based approaches. This had implications for joint planning and practice.

Consultation was found to be a well established practice with SLTs, whereby they had reduced their "hands on" work in favour of advising teachers or assistants. However this raises questions of skill availability and responsibility.

While we were conducting the study the concerns about autism/autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) became high profile. Our study has identified a factor ignored in public debate on possible increase in prevalence of ASD, namely that in addition to better and earlier assessments, professionals have changed their diagnostic/labelling practices. Both result in increased prevalence rates independent of true increases.

The study poses important questions about policy and practice including inclusive education. The Nuffield Foundation organised a seminar of policy makers, practitioners and researchers where the implications of the research were considered.

The report has proven very popular with health trusts and LEAs. It is avaiable from CEDAR, price £10.

Schools Enterprise Programme in Scotland evaluation

Daniel Muijs writes:

CEDAR is presently involved in evaluating the Schools Enterprise Programme in Scotland. This project aims to allow every Scottish pupil to experience enterprise as part of the 5-14 curriculum with, as a final goal, developing Scotland as an enterprising nation. As part of the project, Enterprise Education Support Officers (EESOs) have been appointed to every EBP area in Scotland, to help teachers locally to develop enterprise activities through training and hands-on support. These EESO's themselves regularly take part in training courses.

The evaluation involves observation of EESO training events, questionnaires to teachers who have taken part in training, questionnaires to teachers and students who have taken part in enterprise activities in their schools, and in-depth case studies in selected areas. The project is currently still in its first year. The project is currently still in its first year. The evaluation is being led by Prof. Geoff Lindsay and Dr Daniel Muijs.

Working and Learning in Health and Social Care Services:

Workforce Development Confederation Research

Sheila Galloway writes:

Recent government inititatives put a stronger emphasis on national and local workforce development and planning for a modern and dependable NHS and Workforce Development Confederations were established to put this into operation. Sheila Galloway is involved in research projects for two National Health Service Worlkforce Development Confederations (WDCs).

West Midlands South WDC (covering Coventry and Warwickshire, recently extended to include Hertfordshire and Worcestershire) commissioned this work to provide information to feed into its planning. Led by Warwick's Institute for Employment Research, the project focused on the local NHS labour market, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. An analysis based on IER's local economic forecasting model was complemented by three occupational case studies. Group interviews focused on recruitment and retention, skill mix and continuing professional development among nurses, midwives and health visitors, radiographers and health care assistants. Other features of the project were a capacity-building course for WDC staff on understanding key labour market issues and on the practice of workforce planning and a 'Round Table' to draw on the views of Human Resource Directors and representatives of health and social care organisations in developing the research.

In October, the Warwick team presented the main findings to a Conference devoted to the project, bringing together delegates from the West Midlands South WDC, Primary Care Trusts, Hospital Trusts, the Department of Health and other bodies.

Shropshire and Staffordshire WDC has approached Warwick to undertake similar research. Here, the focus of the qualitative work is being replicated, but with critical care and learning disability nurses, radiographers and biochemists.

This sector faces acute problems regarding staffing and service delivery. The need for continued professional learning and development is sharpened by new roles, changing responsibilities and more inter-professional patterns of work, and these changes are happening against increasing public expectations of the health service. The research outlined here will strengthen the basis on which regional planning decisions are made.

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