August 08, 2007
Who knows schools better, outside consultants or internal operatives (principals and teachers)? The British government is betting on the latter. It's experimenting with a program that pairs principals ("head teachers") of successful schools with their counterparts in less-successful ones. Schools involved in these partnerships usually have similar demographics, grade levels, and sizes. The pairs of head teachers collaborate on, for example, how to balance school budgets and meet academic standards. Teachers and staff are involved, too: successful educators are paired with those who need extra assistance, and they may help with curriculum planning, classroom management, etc. The best head teachers in the program aren't just seeking to clone their success, though. They are less like drill sergeants than advisors and mentors. Challenges exist, most significant among them the question of how an individual head teacher can attend to two schools at once. But early results are promising. Savvy American reformers would do well to keep an eye on how this program develops. Perchance it will prove itself worth adopting in the colonies.
"In England, Top ‘Heads' Oversee Two Schools at Once," by Lynn Olson, Education Week, August 1, 2007