RSS Feed

Effective Schools Movement – 40 yrs ago

April 6, 2017 by Tunya



What Killed The Effective Schools Movement?

Reading Tom Bennett’s independent report on behaviour in UK schools (76 pg) I was struck by the parallels to the Effective Schools Checklist (1 pg), which evolved from Ron Edmond’s USA work in the 70s.

I will compare the two. Using Edmonds’ checklist as guide I’ll try to show how Bennett’s analyses reiterate the insights of 40 years ago and how foolish it has proven to dismiss excellent principles.

1 Instructional Leadership — both stress the key role of the head teacher (principal) in good schools.

2 Focused School Mission — both refer to this vision — made clear to all involved. Bennett refers to school ethos and school culture.

3 Orderly Environment — Edmonds says: “Purposeful atmosphere conducive to teaching and learning.” Bennett’s whole report is about behavior, if disruptive, as not conducive, and makes many recommendations. IMO a major flaw in his report — there is no digest of recommendations: They are all over the place and could number 10 or 20 or more, with repetitions.

4 High Expectations — Bennett uses the term “high expectations” 11 times, appropriately and on point. But Edmonds says it well too — in one sentence: “The belief is that students are capable and able to achieve, that teachers are capable and not powerless to make a difference.”

5 Mastery of Basic Skills — While Bennett’s report is all about creating a culture of positive behavior there is scant recognition of why it is that students go to school in the first place. They do not go there to learn positive behaviour but to learn the 3Rs and academics. His one concession to this foremost motive for schools: Referencing behavior, “As with academic subjects, mastery of the basics is necessary before proceeding to more complex tasks.” As a remedial teacher said in the comments on this blog, when teachers focus on literacy of the disruptive, barely literate, “with success, their behavior improved.” Behaviour Improvement follows academic achievement.

My editorial comment on this point is to bemoan the twisted nature of “schooling” today. The “shift” is away from academics to behaviour and development of character (13X in Bennett’s report). The shift from “sage on the stage to guide on the side” has deservedly gained the antipathy of students who will exclaim: “Why should I learn, they don’t teach?”

6 Frequent Monitoring of Results — While Edmonds’ checklist specifically refers to assessments of the student, the teacher and the school this refers to the academics. Welcome additions to the field of education are Bennett’s new behavior survey forms: “Behaviour in school is inseparable from academic achievement, safety, welfare and well-being, and all other aspects of learning. It is the key to all other aims, and therefore crucial.” (p12) #3 above

7 Meaningful Parent Involvement — Both regard the role of parents as important to school mission.

8 Avoidance of Pitfalls — Edmonds says: “Up-to-date awareness of good educational practice plus retaining currency in the field concerning promising and discredited practices.” Here is the essence of my grief with the state of education today and the failings in Bennett’s report. If the Effective Schools movement had not been sabotaged (an untold story) decades ago we would not be suffering the behavior and attitude problems now besetting our schools today.

Bennett mentions that in the medical field discredited practices are not tolerated. Why are we re-inventing the wheel? Bennett’s work, on top of Edmonds’, should produce a new checklist.

[posted on Educhatter blog post of April 2, 2017, Student Behaviour.  Tom Bennett’s report, Creating a Culture: how school leaders can optimise behaviour, is a UK document and can be found by title,] 


1 Comment »

  1. […] Tom Bennett from the UK has been the leader in this movement and in April I found myself comparing Tom’s work and articles with the leading lights of an earlier era. You might want to visit my short essay — Effective Schools Movement: 40 Years Ago […]

You must be logged in to post a comment.