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School culture and practice - supporting the disadvantaged.

School culture and practice - supporting the disadvantaged.

In recent years considerable attention has been directed to how the attainment of
disadvantaged pupils can be improved. There has been particular interest in the
improved performance of disadvantaged pupils in London schools since the mid-1990s,
which has resulted in a relatively small gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils
and their peers in the capital compared to the more sizeable gap within other regions of
England. Research has examined the ‘London Effect’ from a number of different angles,
from the effects of policy initiatives, accountability and governance, to demographics,
pupil characteristics and workforce factors.
This new research report adds another piece to a growing jigsaw. The research is based
on two-day, in-depth, qualitative case studies of 16 primary and 7 secondary schools
across England, conducted between September 2016 and July 2017. Our analysis builds
on an established body of literature on school cultures and practices, considering a range
of factors spanning the intangible assumptions and values that teachers hold through to
the observable, concrete behaviours that emerge from them. We understand school
practices as emerging from a school’s culture; they are the most concrete, visible aspect
of that culture and allow insights into its constituent underlying assumptions and values.
The research provides an in-depth analysis of a set of school cultures and practices that
existing research has linked to positive outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. These
cultures and practices range from how schools support parents’ and pupils’ aspirations
and expectations, to the way in which they use data and evidence to monitor outcomes
and how they respond to the latest developments in research. Through interviews with
teachers, senior leaders and governors; focus groups with parents and pupils; and
observations of lessons, assemblies, meetings, corridors and playgrounds in each
school, we have been able to build-up an in-depth picture of variation and consistency in
cultures between schools, and the ways in which cultures influence practice. Further
details of the methodology are provided in the Introduction and in Annex 2.
The report categorises the cultures and practices in schools according to 11 themes.

Read the report.


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