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Evaluation of the Leadership for Learning Initiative - Summary Report – September 2005

DescriptionEvaluation of Leadership for Learning Initiative
ISBN
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateNovember 09, 2005

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    Sue Granville and Kay Russell, George Street Research Limited
    ISBN 0 7559 1258 6 (Web only publication)
    This document is also available in pdf format (224k)

    Executive Summary

    In January 2004, Leadership for Learning was launched as part of the NGfL Scotland Masterclass Initiative. This programme aims to assist headteachers in developing strategic leadership of ICT in their schools.

    The principal aims of Leadership for Learning are to enhance the capacity of headteachers to act strategically in leading the development of their schools and equip them with working models to move ICT forward in school, with a focus on innovating / embedding and sustaining ICT across a school.

    George Street Research was commissioned to conduct an evaluation of the initiative in March 2005 and a programme of qualitative and quantitative research was conducted with Leadership for Learning participants.

    Overall Impact of Leadership for Learning

    Overall, there is recognition that Leadership for Learning is one of many ICT initiatives impacting on the education field at present and this makes it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of Leadership for Learning in isolation. Moreover, because the programme has only recently been implemented, many participants have not yet had time to take strategic developments forward. Nonetheless, participants were generally very positive about the initiative.

    Main Findings

    • The initiative has had a positive impact in a range of areas in the use of ICT including improvements in the knowledge of what ICT can do and increases in ICT literacy.
    • While respondents acknowledge the importance of using ICT at a strategic management level, the extent of developments in this area is still limited. This is partly due to the newness of the initiative. Nonetheless, 36% of respondents claim to have introduced a strategic management initiative. Many of those who have not yet introduced a strategic management initiative have plans to do so in the near future.
    • Initial training is rated positively in terms of overall quality and is valued for the opportunities offered for information discussions, networking and sharing good practice.
    • Sharing and dissemination of information and good practice within a school or local authority and across local authority areas is also said to have improved as a result of the initiative.
    • The majority of respondents feel part of an ICT community and Leadership for Learning is recognised as offering good opportunities for networking.
    • There remains scope to improve networking activity with more opportunities for meetings between participants and recall or refresher days.
    • A formalised system of local authority coordination such as that offered by Masterclass would be beneficial to foster the sharing of good practice, disseminating information and providing channels of communication between headteachers across local authorities.
    Introduction

    In January 2004, Leadership for Learning was launched as part of the NGfL Scotland Masterclass initiative. The initiative was designed to assist headteachers develop strategic leadership of ICT in their schools and is based on the Strategic Leadership of ICT ( SLICT) programme in England. The initiative seeks to build on headteachers' knowledge, skills and understanding of key issues in leading and implementing their vision for fully integrating ICT into all aspects of school life.

    The initiative was piloted with 300 participants in 2004, and around a further 250 headteachers are currently participating in the Leadership for Learning programme. These participants have been selected across all Scottish local authorities.

    Aims of Leadership for Learning

    The principal aims of Leadership for Learning are to:

    • Enhance the capacity of headteachers to act strategically in leading the development of their schools.
    • Equip headteachers with working models to move ICT forward in school (focus on innovating / embedding and sustaining ICT across a school).

    Aims and Objectives of the Evaluation

    The specific aims for this element of the evaluation were to:

    • Assess the effectiveness of the delivery of the Leadership for Learning programme.
    • Assess the impact of the Leadership for Learning programme on the participants themselves and on the settings in which they work.

    Additional aims were to:

    • Explore the ways in which Leadership for Learning is likely to be used in the longer term.
    • Ascertain the fit between the Leadership for Learning programme, the Masterclass programme and other ICT initiatives that have also been introduced (such as Headstogether) and gain an understanding as to how ICT is used in the workplace and the benefits it can bring.
    • Understand the extent to which Leadership for Learning participants are acting strategically in leading the development of their schools.
    • Identify any ways in which additional support should be provided by local authority co-ordinators or LT Scotland facilitators in order to maximise the effectiveness of Leadership for Learning.

    Methodology

    The research approach adopted an initial phase of qualitative research consisting of face to face interviews with participants from the Leadership for Learning programme, followed by a quantitative survey with a sample of participants.

    • A total of 15 face-to-face depth interviews were conducted with Leadership for Learning participants from a mixture of Primary, Secondary, Special and Combined schools in different areas.
    • A total of 150 semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with Leadership for Learning participants, again from a mix of schools across Scotland.
    Main Findings

    The Overall Impact of Leadership for Learning

    Overall, there is recognition that Leadership for Learning is one of many ICT initiatives impacting on the education field at present. This makes it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of Leadership for Learning in isolation. Participants are aware that there are other initiatives and strategies in place which are working with Leadership for Learning towards the same goal. That said, participants were generally very positive about Leadership for Learning.

    While some respondents were unaware of what to expect from Leadership for Learning at the outset and not all understood the strategic nature of Leadership for Learning, they do recognise the importance of using ICT at a strategic level in schools. On prompting, over nine in ten perceive that building upon knowledge, skills and understanding of key issues in leading and implementing their vision for ICT and learning in school or that integrating ICT at a strategic level is important.

    Initial Expectations

    • Many respondents were unsure about what to expect from Leadership for Learning at the outset and only a small number were aware that it was aimed at developing skills in the use of ICT at a strategic management level within school at the outset.
    • Initial expectations focused on:
    • Improving knowledge of ICT generally (41%)
    • Opportunities to learn from others / share good ideas (33%)
    • Improving skills at a strategic level in the school (27%)
    • Building on knowledge, skills and understanding of key issues in leading and implementing a vision for ICT and learning in school (25%)
    • When prompted with a list of possible outcomes that could be attributed to Leadership for Learning, strategic outcomes were perceived to be important by participants, with 83% stating that improving skills in using ICT at a strategic level in their school was important.
    • An additional advantage associated with Leadership for Learning was that of increasing opportunities for networking.

    Training

    • The initial training was rated very positively in terms of overall quality and obtained an average score of 7.9 out of 10.
    • The training was valued for the opportunities it offered for informal discussions and networking with other headteachers and sharing good practice.
    • Participants positively evaluated the inclusion of practical demonstrations and applications in the initial training such as schools visits.
    • 61% of respondents would have liked more time discussing ways in which ICT could be integrated into school management.
    • 48% felt there was not enough time spent on developing ICT policies within schools and that they would like more time learning to use ICT equipment.
    • 42% felt there was not enough time to consolidate knowledge but only 13% perceived the training to be too intensive.
    • The aspects of the initial training that were rated as useful by the highest proportions of respondents were leadership and management of ICT (cited by 88%), online tools and resources (cited by 84%), defining strategic leadership of ICT (79%), review and action planning (76%), school visits (75%) and review and feedback (73%).
    • 47% of participants had attended the SETT conference. Those who had attended the SETT conference rated this highly, awarding: an average score of 8.2 (out of 10).
    • Participants pointed to the need for ongoing / follow-up training, although none had yet experienced recall days.

    The Online Community

    • While most respondents had used at least one of the discussion forums, the qualitative findings show that use of the online community is infrequent and irregular.
    • The main reasons identified for low levels of usage are lack of time and lack of confidence in the use of ICT.
    • Some respondents indicate a preference for telephone or face-to-face contact.

    Outcomes for Leadership for Learning

    Respondents identify a number of positive impacts of Leadership for Learning:

    • 80% or more agree that the initiative has improved knowledge within the school of what ICT can do (89%), that it has helped to introduce new ICT products into the school (81%) and that they have been able to suggest new / better ways of using ICT equipment (80%).
    • The quantitative data also shows that ICT has been applied at a strategic level within schools in various ways, with 95% of respondents stating that there has been an increase in their knowledge, skills and understanding of key issues of implementing their vision for ICT and learning in Scotland.
    • Sharing and dissemination of information and good practice both within a school or local authority, and across local authority areas has improved. 91% of respondents recognise that the programme is helping them to motivate other members of staff to use ICT more.
    • 83% feel that it has helped them to become part of an ICT community.
    • Respondents acknowledge the importance of using ICT in the strategic management of their schools. However, some may need more ICT equipment in place before new strategic initiatives can be implemented.
    • While the impact of Leadership for Learning at a strategic level in schools is limited at present, 36% claim to have introduced a strategic management initiative.
    • The qualitative findings suggest that many of those who have not yet introduced a strategic management initiative, have plans to do so in the near future and it is envisaged that a great deal more initiatives will be introduced in the next year or so.
    • Leadership for Learning is recognised as offering opportunities for networking for participants for example, via email or the Headstogether online community.
    Recommendations

    Co-Ordination of Leadership for Learning

    • While views on Leadership for Learning are largely positive, there are requests for a formalised system of co-ordination (such as that offered by Masterclass).
    • Local authority ICT co-ordinators are perceived to be central in taking forward Leadership for Learning, sharing good practice, setting up regular meetings and so on. In some instances, this is already happening but on an informal basis.
    • Local authority co-ordinators are also perceived to be in a good position to disseminate information and share good practice as widely across Scotland as possible and to provide a channel of communication between headteachers, and across different local authorities.
    • In the short term, there is also a role for Learning and Teaching Scotland to provide back-up support and advice when required. All participants need to be made aware of who to contact within the organisation with any queries in relation to support or advice.
    • Regular communication from both Learning and Teaching Scotland and local authority co-ordinators is needed to encourage use of the online community.
    • Support and advice on accessing the website needs to be available to respondents. Offering a telephone helpline number to contact should help headteachers with access problems.

    Involvement in Leadership for Learning

    • Respondents suggested that Leadership for Learning should be opened up to more participants including all headteachers and members of senior management teams.
    • There is a need for new recruits to Leadership for Learning to be given more information about what to expect from Leadership for Learning in terms of impacts and outcomes. Specifically, information on the strategic, rather than operational, nature of this programme needs to be communicated.
    • There is a need to raise the profile of Leadership for Learning and awareness of its aims and objectives.

    Networking

    • Networking is seen to be an important element of Leadership for Learning.
    • There should be more opportunities for networking and sharing ideas with other headteachers with more regular meetings.
    • Opportunities for meeting with other participants need to be exploited wherever possible.
    • One key suggestion was for participants to have their own session at the SETT conference.
    • Networking with others within peer groups / interest groups would be welcomed and LTS / local authorities could be instrumental in the set up of these.

    Training

    • While views on the initial training were largely positive, respondents would like more time put aside for opportunities for practical training sessions.
    • Awareness of recall days, and what these consisted of, was low and respondents need to be made aware of follow-up training opportunities.
    • Follow-up training needs to be offered on a regular basis and should cover new initiatives that have been implemented in schools and offer opportunities for revision of topics covered in previous sessions.
    • Participants would like to see more time made available to them for training.