What’s Wrong With Our Schools? Understanding ‘Ineffective’ and ‘Failing’ Schools
My experience suggests that discussions about ineffective or failing schools do not reveal much depth of understanding of those schools. In particular, such discussions avoid clarity about what is meant by ineffectiveness, so that meanings are not shared. Ineffective schools are often lumped together as one type of school, without considering whether they may have different characteristics. The development of strategies likely to help those schools become effective are unlikely to be developed out of such simplistic analysis. In this chapter, I explore how a range of people who work with ineffective schools understand and think about them1 and discuss:
• how far they draw on the existing research, models and theories about failing and ineffective schools;
• how much the conceptualizing about such schools is framed within the dominant discourses, especially those articulated by policy makers;
• whether these conceptions help with the work of improving our least effective schools; and
• if those who have the job of working with failing or ineffective schools are using what is known about schools in these situations.