Autonomous state schools better managed than other state schools and private schools, according to new research


The quality of school management is related to school ownership, governance and the leadership traits of head teachers, according to new research. In short, better school management is associated with better pupil achievement.

Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun and John Van Reenen,of CEP -the London School of Economics- have been investigating differences in managerial and organisational practices across schools and the extent to which these differences may be associated with educational outcomes. The researchers found:

‘  Overall, we find robust evidence that practices vary significantly across countries and are strongly linked to pupil outcomes.’ The report says ‘First, we show that the adoption of basic managerial practices in schools offering education to 15- year olds is fairly limited: the average management score across all countries is 2.27. This represents a considerably lower level of adoption of many of the managerial processes included in the index than in manufacturing (where the average management score is 3.01 in firms of between 50 and 5,000 employees in these eight countries). It is slightly lower than in healthcare (where the average management score is 2.43 in general hospitals offering acute care plus cardiology or orthopaedics procedures in these eight countries).

Second, in the school management index, the UK, Sweden, Canada and the United States are at the top of the ranking, closely followed by Germany, while Italy, Brazil and India lie at the bottom

Third, looking at schools within countries, we show that an increase in the average management index is associated with an increase in pupil achievement. Moving from a school in the bottom quarter of the management index distribution to a school in the top quarter, which is approximately one point in the management index, is associated with an increase in school performance of approximately 15%.

In view of the larger body of research on the effects of educational inputs on pupil achievement, we find that performance associations for management quality are between two to three times larger than for competition and teacher quality and over ten times larger than for a measured input such as class size.

Fourth, there are large differences in the quality of management adopted by schools both within countries and within regions in countries. We find that school ownership and governance is a key factor associated with differences in management practices.

In particular, we find that autonomous state schools (that is, organisations that are publicly funded but governed by school-specific regulations) have higher scores on the management index relative to regular state schools, which are publicly funded and managed according to region-wide guidelines, and private schools.

Fifth, the difference between autonomous state schools compared with regular state schools and private schools does not seem to reflect observable differences in the composition of the pupil body, school and regional characteristics or basic demographics of the head teachers or principals, such as their tenure and gender. In contrast, the quality of school management appears to be related to specific traits of the principals.

In particular, principals in autonomous state schools are more likely to have developed and communicated a long-term strategy for the school and to be subject to stronger governance, making them more accountable for the delivery of pupils’ outcomes relative to the principals of regular state schools and private schools.



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