School Autonomy in the UK / Damon Clark

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School Autonomy in the UK / Damon Clark

  1. 1. School Autonomy in the UK Damon Clark Cornell University Presentation at Workshop on Evaluation of Education Policies, October 7 2011
  2. 2. Background: How to Improve Schools? Three approaches: (3) Structural reforms (1) Resources Spending, class size reductions Autonomy, choice, competition (2) Standards & Accountability Incentives for schools, teachers and students
  3. 3. Outline of the talk (A) UK school system (B) Autonomy reforms in the UK (C) Evaluation of a radical UK autonomy reform (D) Outlook for school autonomy in the UK (E) Summary, conclusions and questions
  4. 4. (A) UK school system Brief History State schooling gradually more important in 19 th & early 20 th century By 1950, most schooling was state-provided (private school ~7%) 1950-1975: moved to comprehensive system of state schooling In 1950, state system had two tiers: elite & non-elite schools
  5. 5. (A) UK school system 1975 National Government Local Schools Authority Neighbourhood Enrollment Needs-Based Funding S1 S2 S3
  6. 6. (A) UK school system 1975 1988 National Government Local Schools Authority Neighbourhood Enrollment Needs-Based Funding Open Enrollment Money follows Pupils League Tables ‘ Virtual Voucher’ system = S1 S2 S3 S1 S3 S2 Local Schools Authority National Government
  7. 7. (B) UK Autonomy reforms Reform #1: Local Management of Schools (1988) S3 S2 Local Schools Authority National Government S1 More decisions given to schools (especially on budgets)
  8. 8. (B) UK Autonomy reforms Reform #2: Grant Maintained Schools (1988) S3 S2 Local Schools Authority National Government S1 ‘ Opt-Out’ = Quasi-independent (must win vote among parents)
  9. 9. (B) UK Autonomy reforms GM schools like private schools: Owned the school grounds and buildings Employed all teaching and non-teaching staff GM schools like (UK) public schools: Had to follow National Curriculum Same current funding as non-GM schools (but from central gvt) Admitted students (but no fees or tests) GM schools like non-profits: Established a board (governing body), principal like CEO Complex formula for capital funding
  10. 10. (B) UK Autonomy reforms Around one-third of high schools voted on GM status… Around one-quarter of high schools became GM 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 0.3 0.2 0.1
  11. 11. Why not hold a GM vote? Why lose a GM vote? Local resistance to GM reform GM Voting: Typically Principal For Against (Q) (A) (B) UK Autonomy reforms District Neutral District Oppose Teachers support Win ? Teachers oppose ? Lose
  12. 12. Labour Conservative (B) UK Autonomy reforms GM votes in London
  13. 13. No – GM and never-GM schools may already be different (2) Compare narrow vote winners and narrow vote losers Yes – pre-GM vote, these schools should be same on avg Possible methods (1) Compare GM schools with never-GM schools? (C) Evaluation of UK Autonomy Reform -> narrow losers = good counterfactual for outcomes of narrow winners without GM status = “regression discontinuity” design Outcome = school pass rate Sample = all secondary schools that voted
  14. 14. ‘ O’ Level Exams ‘ A’ Level Exams Primary School High School College University (C) Evaluation of UK Autonomy Reform Age Grade 5 1 6 2 7 3 8 4 9 5 10 6 11 7 12 8 13 9 14 10 15 11 18 19 20 16 12 17 13
  15. 15. ‘ O’ Level Exams (now GCSEs) High School Outcome = % students in school that pass >=5 exams Sample (C) Evaluation of UK Autonomy Reform “ School pass rate” 11 7 12 8 13 9 14 10 15 11
  16. 16. (C) Evaluation of UK Autonomy Reform Vote counts by vote share (Figure 1) GM status by vote share (Figure 2)
  17. 17. (C) Evaluation of UK Autonomy Reform School performance before the vote (Figure 3a) School performance two years after the vote (Figure 3b)
  18. 18. (C) Evaluation of UK Autonomy Reform Estimates of the effects of becoming GM: Percentage points Year after vote -> effects large: 10% of bass pass rate, 0.25 st devin in base pass rate s -> effects are stable for 8 years after the vote
  19. 19. (C) Evaluation of UK Autonomy Reform How did schools improve? (1) No evidence of student cream-skimming, at least in short-run (2) Evidence for reduced student absences (3) Evidence for increased teacher hiring (4) Evidence for increase in teacher turnover following vote (5) Evidence for more flexible teacher pay (e.g., bonuses)
  20. 20. (D) Outlook for Autonomy in the UK GM policy made by Conservative gvt, in power until 1997 Labor government that came to power in 1997 froze policy No new GM schools but existing GM schools kept freedoms Non-GM schools given more flexibility -> became more like GM “ Academy schools” created New magnet-like schools in poor areas Given a lot of resources, given GM-like freedoms
  21. 21. (D) Outlook for Autonomy in the UK Coalition government elected in May 2010 Flagship policy = “free schools” New schools (like start-up charter schools in the US) Can be set up by parents, teachers, charities but not for-profits Only a handful of free school applications/approvals
  22. 22. (D) Outlook for Autonomy in the UK Coalition government elected in May 2010 More important policy = let schools rated “outstanding” become academies 200 new Academies created between January 2002 and election 68 new Academies created since election 194 schools converted to Academy status since election -> another (quieter) revolution
  23. 23. (E) Summary & Conclusions In 1975, UK school system like that in most countries 1988-1997: first autonomy revolution; appears to be have been successful 2010-?: second autonomy revolution; results as yet unknown Interesting questions: What do successful autonomour schools need? E.g., Great leaders? Why can autonomy help? E.g., flexibility re staff decisions?

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