Change Engagement Comparative Report

Peter Rudd, Gill Featherstone, David Teeman, Tami McCrone, Sophie Ahmad, Hilary Thompson

01 March 2008

In 2007 the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) commissioned research into how schools engage with change and how the schools sector compares with the health, local government and police sectors with regard to managing change. The research was carried out by the NFER, in collaboration with the Office for Public Management (OPM).

The aim of the research was to inform the TDA’s programme of strategic performance assessment in the key area of supporting modernisation. It included two objectives:

  • to investigate how schools engaged with change and how this differed between subsets of schools and
  • to compare the way in which schools manage change with other sectors.

Research methods included a literature review, strategic level interviews, a large scale school survey and qualitative telephone interviews with school and other sector leaders.

Key Findings

  • School staff generally have positive attitudes towards change and were confident about their (and their school’s) capacity for change, suggesting a high degree of receptivity to change.
  • Staff involvement and understanding of change (along with monitoring and review of change initiatives and celebrating success) are critical success factors in implementing and sustaining change.
  • School leaders (and managers in other sectors) were aware of a variety of change models and tools, though regular use of these does not seem to be common. Thought now needs to be given as to how to develop the next level of change support.
  • There is a considerable degree of similarity in change challenges and priorities across the different sectors. Despite the similarities, managers in comparative sectors report having made more progress in some areas, particularly in working with partners to achieve major change. Whereas school leaders appear to have more of a perception of ‘control’ over change than leaders in other sectors.
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