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surviving thriving AS AN URBAN LEADER reflective and analytical tools for leaders of our city schools

Kathryn A Riley


Kathryn Riley (2007) Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader. Institute of Education, London Centre for Leadership in Learning ISBN: 0-9550485-4-0 Designed by: Jean Cripps


Contents Page

Introduction I

The Four Realities: Creating an Integrated Language for Leading • • • •

II

Reality Reality Reality Reality

I: II III IV

The The The The

Challenge Challenge Challenge Challenge

I II III IV

3 4 5 6

Make Sense of the Big Picture in our Cities Know more about Local Communities & about Children’s Lives & Experiences Foster Trusting Relationships between Schools & Communities Understand School Leaders’ Role in Relation to the Community

7 9 9 10

Reflective & Analytical Tools for School Leaders • Inquiry Tool 1 • Inquiry Tool 2 • Inquiry Tool 3 • Inquiry Tool 4 • Inquiry Tool 5

IV

Physical Social & Political Emotional Spiritual or Ethical

The Four Challenges • • • •

III

1

The Four Realities of Leadership: A Personal Mapping Tool Schools & Community Card Sort: Why Schools & Communities Need to Be More Closely Connected Community Audit & Mapping: Features of Community Context Children’s Lives & Experiences Redefining the Notion of Community: Induction Exercise

A Framework for Ethical & Moral Leadership for Social Justice and Sustainability

The Author

13 15 19 21 23 24 27


Thanks & Acknowledgements This booklet is intended for leaders of our city schools. It has been designed to support them in the many challenges they face, and to encourage them to reap the rewards of working with the children and young people of our cities, their families and communities. Many people have contributed to the development of this booklet. With grateful thanks to all of these: the headteachers and school principals who have been part of the project Leadership on the Front-line; the young people from their schools; and the many colleagues from contributing organizations:      

The London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education, University of London: Dr. Carol Campbell, Yvonne Beecham Dr Karen Edge & Jane Reed The Northern Ireland Regional Training Unit: Dr Tom Hesketh, Sean Rafferty & John Young Drumcondra Education Centre, Dublin: Eileen O'Connor & Dee Coogan The Leadership Development for Schools, Dublin: Zita Lysaght, Ciaran Flynn & Paddy Flood Consultants: Estelle Currie, Jill Jordan & Paula Taylor-Moore Local Authorities & School Boards: Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin, Greenwich, Hammersmith & Fulham, Liverpool, Londonderry, Manchester, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Salford and Waltham Forest

The framework for the booklet was developed at a workshop in October 2006, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Grateful thanks to the Foundation for this, and for encouraging and supporting the development of the booklet. Participants in the 2006 workshop were Dr. Karen Edge, Paul Ford, Sean McGrath, Trish Jaffe, Jill Jordan, Janice Macleod, Jane Reed, Rob Thomas, Heather St Clare and Mel Woodcock. Finally, my particular thanks to Professor Tim Brighouse, Dr. Karen Edge, Jill Jordan and Jane Reed and for their ongoing insights, Dr. Tom Hesketh for co-sponsoring the initial work and Professor Peter Earley for his proof reading skills. Professor Kathryn Riley London Centre for Leadership in Learning June 2007


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Page One

introduction The diversity and mobility of our cities generates many challenges for the leaders of our urban schools. This booklet focuses on schools and communities in city contexts which are particularly challenging. It offers tools, approaches and perspectives designed to help school leaders deepen their insights about communities, and strengthen connections between schools' internal professional communities and their local communities.

The project's central framework is shown in Diagram I. The community context is the underpinning starting point. How school leaders interpret and respond to that context, their ability to draw on the untapped resources of our cities, the ways in which they respond to the daily leadership challenges are, in their turn, influenced by deep-rooted values and beliefs. Diagram 1: Leadership on the Front-Line

The booklet has been funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, supporting its aim of promoting young people's emotional, social and moral development by developing stronger connections between local communities. The materials are for both serving and future school leaders and have been designed for use in a range of collaborative settings: within schools (e.g. with leadership teams); between school leaders (e.g. in action learning sets); or with aspiring leaders (e.g. in development programmes for aspiring leaders).

Purpose Practice

Personal

Connecting Schools & Communities Together Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader is based on an ongoing research and 1 development project, Leadership on the Front-line. To date, Leadership on the Front-line has brought together over 70 headteachers of schools in challenging urban contexts in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin, London (Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest), Londonderry, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford.2 We took the view in the project that the community context is the starting point for understanding, developing and applying urban school leadership. It shapes:    

The purposes of leadership (issues to do with values and beliefs); The practices (on a day-to-day basis); The challenges (including how to mediate between different views and beliefs from within the community); and The pressures (the personal implications of working in such a challenging role).

Community Context The booklet is divided into four parts:

Part I - The Four Realities - Creating an Integrated Language for Leading This is a framework for exploring how school leaders can develop a greater sense of wholeness which will sustain them in their leadership as they move through the four realities of their daily lives: Reality I: The physical Reality II: The social and political Reality III: The emotional Reality IV: The spiritual or ethical

1 Retitled as Bringing Leaders Together to Learn Together: Leadership on the Front-line. 2 The schools are cross-phase (nursery, primary, secondary and special), and reflect the range of types of schools in urban contexts: denominational, integrated, county, girls and boys.


Page Two

Part II - The Four Challenges The focus is on four particular community-related challenges that school leaders have to contend with: Challenge I:

Making sense of the big picture in our cites - the changes and complexity Challenge II: Understanding more about local communities and about children's lives and experiences Challenge III: Fostering trusting relationships between schools and communities Challenge IV: Understanding their own role in relation to the community

Part III - Reflective & Analytical Tools for School Leaders Five reflective and analytical tools for leaders of our city schools are offered, linked to the realities and challenges of urban leadership. All five tools are based on research findings and the experiences of school leaders, and are connected to practice. The five Inquiry Tools are: Inquiry Tool 1: The Four Realities of Leadership: A Personal Mapping Tool Inquiry Tool 2: Schools and Community Card Sort Inquiry Tool 3: Community Audit and Mapping Inquiry Tool 4: Children's Lives and Experiences Inquiry Tool 5: Redefining the Notion of Community

Part IV - A Framework for Ethical & Moral Leadership for Social Justice & Sustainability This is a summary framework for school leaders which brings together some of the key issues raised in the booklet.

Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Page Three

part 1: the four realities - creating an integrated language for leading* For the leaders of our city schools, the emotional octane can be intense: highs and lows, as well as the deep satisfaction of seeing the children and young people in their schools succeed. To withhold the pressures and reap the benefits which are an integral part of the job, leaders of our city schools need to develop a sense of wholeness which reflects the totality of their lives and experiences as a leader. This is about cultivating an integrated language and perspective which makes connections between the four realities of their daily life - the physical; the social and political; the emotional; and the spiritual or ethical - those four dimensions of who we are. The story of urban education is typically presented as a crisis. At particular moments (such as General Elections), the apparent 'crisis' hits the headlines: tales of disruption, stories of children running riot, accounts of young people failing to achieve basic skill levels. We know that the concentration of social and economic disadvantage in urban contexts can have damaging effects. We know too, that the interplay of race, ethnicity, gender and class in our cities can have an impact on pupils' beliefs and expectations, as well as on their levels of attainment. From the project Leadership on the Front-line we have learned much about the pressures and intensity of being a school leader, as well as the personal costs. But we have also learned more about the other side of the coin: the exuberance and enthusiasm of our urban children, and the ways in which schools can transform their lives. School leaders have told us how enriching and rewarding the job is: 3 'The best there is!' In our first booklet on the project Leadership on the Front-line, we concluded that the headteachers and principals of our city schools have much to teach school leaders elsewhere. There are issues about being at the cutting edge of changes that will shape our society for decades ahead. What the leaders of our city schools need to know and be able to do on a daily basis is what many colleagues in less pressing contexts will need to know and be able do in future years. There are issues about social justice. There are issues about creativity and energy.

3 4

Urban school leaders often find themselves caught between different realities: the physical; the social and political; the emotional; and the spiritual or ethical. These 'realities' are described in this section of the booklet as a prelude to carrying out the personal mapping exercise which is part of Inquiry Tool I, page 14. Reality I - The Physical Reality The most obvious reality is the physical reality: the events and situations and physical conditions which are an integral part of the job. The physical aspects of the job are evident in many of the day-to-day actions and encounters; about resources (dealing with the overspend); timetabling (managing sickness); staffing (plugging the gaps); school meals (providing healthy meals on a limited budget to an often reluctant student population); the state of the school buildings (setting out on a Public Finance Initiative). There are many other aspects to this physical reality, for school leaders themselves and for students. The physical realities which young children encounter in their city lives can include rubbish and rats, traffic and trafficking. The physical reality of the state of the school buildings has a significant impact on everyone in a school. Looking across the cities and schools involved in Leadership on the Front-line, we have been struck by the enormous differences in the conditions of the school buildings, and in disparities in school funding - all of which have a major impact on learning. Work with disaffected and marginalised pupils indicates that they are 4 particularly influenced by a poor physical environment. Smelly toilets and cracked windows are experienced as a profound mark of disrespect for them. If the school doesn't respect me, why should I respect the school? For children and young people, the physical reality is also about the physical boundaries in which they feel safe, or unsafe. Children's views about safety are also strongly influenced by contemporary and historical events: the troubles in Northern Ireland, the July 2005 London bombings. Many of their lives are limited

Riley, K., Hesketh, T., Rafferty, S & Taylor-Moore, P. with Young, J & Beecham Y. (2005). Urban Pioneers - Leading the way ahead: First lessons from the Leadership on the Front-line Project. London: Institute of Education, University of London, Issues in Practice Series. Riley, K.A. and Rustique- Forrester, E. ( 2002). Working with Disaffected Students: Why students lose interest in school and what we can do about it. London: Sage. Riley, K.A., Ellis, S., Weinstock, W., Tarrant, J., and Hallmond, S. 'Re-engaging disaffected pupils in learning: Insights for policy and practice'. Improving Schools, Vol 9, no 1.


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Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

by their views about territory. By and large, they only move freely in limited areas in which (through race, ethnicity, culture or beliefs) they know and understand the ground rules. Many young people are disengaged from the wealth of the city: disenfranchised from the cultural inheritance which is rightly theirs. This is why schools have such a key role to play in maximising the social capital which is present in abundance in our cities. However, the situation is complex and contradictory. Our urban children know about drugs and gang culture. They may have to deal with poor street lighting, threats of violence or instability. Their lives may be constrained by the lack of play space, fears for safety, worries about gangs, stolen cars. They may meet prejudice and low expectations. But they also come to experience different languages, cultures, foods, beliefs and expectations. Many will have the support of friends and families and opportunities for sports, cultural events and a range of other activities. Picture I is a typical example of how one young person from a London school has depicted these contradictions. This may be linked to Inquiry Tool 4, page 21. For our urban school leaders, this social reality presents two significant challenges. The first is how to avoid being so caught up in the practical tasks of the job, the daily physical realities, that they miss the bigger picture. The second is how to make sure that the children and young people in their schools are beneficiaries from the renaissance of our cities, and that they learn to travel freely across the boundaries which often constrain them. Reality II - The Social and Political Reality A second reality is the social reality (of which the political reality is a part). This means not just the social reality of the school (the complexities of the relationships between people, the differing social meanings that they attach to events) but also the social reality of children's lives. This includes the socio-economic circumstances, the conflicting worlds of the inner city; the violence and the poverty, as well as the rich opportunities and diverse religious and cultural experiences. Acknowledging the social reality of some children's lives can be a deeply painful and frustrating experience.

Picture 1 : Example of a pupil’s drawing This social reality throws up a range of issues. Children do not react well to change. Where they lack stability in their home lives (a parent in prison, moving with one parent to escape the abuses of another), they want to see the same faces in front of them every day at school. Many will test new teachers, or try and give supply teachers 'the run around'. A part of the social reality of many of our city areas is poor health and death. The incidents can be extreme: an ex-pupil caught up in the local gang-land drugs culture, shot and killed; a child killed by a drunken motorist. Death inevitably touches the school staff. The suicide of a local headteacher, well-known to a number of headteachers in the Leadership on the Front-line Project, raised painful issues for colleagues about the pressures of the job. Similarly, the suicide of a member of staff in another school had major repercussions throughout the school.


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

An integral element of the social reality is the political reality, generated to a large degree by the attitudes of, and the decisions made, by local and national policymakers. Operating within this political reality, urban school leaders can come to see themselves as victims, rather than as players who can influence and shape outcomes, not only through their individual, but also their collective actions. However, influence does not always work. Many participants in the project have experienced anger and frustration at political decisions: the closing of a school which is particularly successful with black boys; the proposed building of two Academies on the doorstep of a once struggling school which is now offering rich experiences to young people. The anger stems from a deeply held view that these decisions will have an adverse effect on the children in their school. The challenge for the school leader is how to manage that anger and frustration (both for themselves and the staff within their schools), and how to channel it into educational gains for children and young people. Reality III - The Emotional Reality The physical and social realities inevitably have a significant impact on the third reality - the emotional or mental reality. Urban school leaders often experience a disjuncture between the actions they take in their role as headteacher or school principal and their emotions: how they feel when they take those actions (suspend a child, refer a family to social services when they know that the child will probably be taken into care), or respond to events (a parent haranguing them, a pupil wielding a knife). As they journey through their work lives, urban school leaders are likely to experience periods of complete exhaustion, frustration, anger, or even distress. But they can choose to tell their story in one of two ways: solely in terms of the hurts and wounds and the things that have gone wrong; or in terms of the tough challenges and the gains that go with this (the opportunities and the pathways, the people who have helped along the way and who have contributed joy, support and friendship). Because there is no doubt that the emotional gains from being an urban leader are second to none.

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Taking stock of this emotional reality is about recognising and acknowledging the complexity: the complexity of leaders' own lives, as well as those of their staff and students. Children in many of our city schools live their lives as if in a soap opera. Events are highly charged. There is an expectation of drama and confrontation. Fed on the East Enders or Big Brother diet, children and their families often inhabit imaginary worlds: crisis and conflict in the playground, at the school gate, or in the local pub add excitement to their lives. An important emotional component which has come out strongly in the project Leadership on the Front-line is humour. For many school leaders, humour is an important part of the emotional tool kit, what they have described as 'that wicked sense of humour', or sense of fun, coupled with a sprinkling of grit that can see them through. The ability to be sanguine about the parent who comes into the office raging ('I decided she was having a bad hair day') is a release valve when things are taunt or tense: something to help us let go. The ability to look back and laugh at a difficult situation is a healing process. The memory of Sport's Day which was sabotaged in a very public way by a child (whose parent complained when asked to take the child home that he 'hadn't run his race yet') will remain. However, putting it in perspective is a healthy reminder that even the best laid plans can go wrong - an important lesson for urban leaders. Humour is about coming to terms with life's rich tapestry of contradictions. Its benefits are strengthened by an element of self-deprecation. The label headteacher or school principal carries status, prestige, power: a heady cocktail which can lead to pomposity. Humour is a good deflator and the ability of school leaders to laugh at themselves, and to counter any creeping grandiosity is an invaluable one!


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Reality IV - The Spiritual and Ethical Reality There is a fourth reality. This is a spiritual reality which is about beliefs. This spiritual or ethical dimension is formed by who we are and what drives us (a family committed to a faith, or to challenging racism); where we come (from a mining community, a poor home); and what we have experienced (a disaster such as Hillsborough). It is part of what drives school leaders forward to improvement, to development and to seeking new challenges. The spiritual reality is not necessarily a religious reality, although for many headteachers and school principals this is the case. For others, this reality stems from a strong commitment to social justice, what students themselves often refer to as fairness. Yet it is more than this. It is that sense of something beyond and wider, that belief in boundless opportunities. This spiritual reality has nothing to do with league tables or exam results. It often manifests itself as a drive to enable young people to gain a sense of who they are, and what they might be. Of all of these four dimensions or realities, the spiritual is the hardest to catch sight of, to hold on to, and to put to use. However, school leaders need to take time to revisit and strengthen that spiritual reality, that consciousness of what is important and of what is beyond day-to-day realities. This is about taking stock of what makes us tick: that inner essence of what is important for us.

Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

The limitations of language do not fully express the spiritual reality. However, this spiritual reality or spiritual consciousness, or what others might label as a robust moral or ethical foundation, can help school leaders weather the physical, the social and the emotional storms. This spiritual consciousness can also help them build a spiritual wisdom that is not a socially conventional wisdom of what can this person do for me, but a deeper wisdom. At the root of this deeper wisdom is a belief in the inherent goodness of children, a determination to provide them with the opportunities they deserve. It is this spiritual consciousness which enables school leaders to break the rules, take the risks - but do the right thing. This spiritual dimension is the rock. It is what holds school leaders steady during stormy times. By revisiting that dimension school leaders can bring into consciousness what it is that sustains them. Some Further Thoughts Surviving the rigours of urban leadership and reaping its benefits is a daunting task. By developing a sense of wholeness, school leaders will be better prepared to weather the storms which are characteristic of urban leadership. That sense of wholeness can be achieved by: 

Connecting to this spiritual reality helps school leaders deal with the anxiety which is an inherent part of the job: anxiety caused by a range of realities - social and political, emotional and physical. Yet anxiety is a non-productive state, as it assumes events and outcomes can be controlled. And there are some things which school leaders cannot control. Recognising what these things are and mentally letting go of what cannot be controlled is a fundamental part of the job. Adopting a ‘maybe’ attitude of mind is a liberating experience and helps. It acknowledges the possibility of the worse case scenario, while at the same time accepting the best possible outcome. 'Maybe Ofsted will come in when ten of my staff are on sick leave. And maybe they won't'.5

5

I was first introduced to the ‘maybe’ concept through the work of American psychologist Susan Jeffers.

  

Reflecting on how the four realities (the physical, the social and political, the emotional, and the spiritual or ethical) are experienced; Recognising where and when they are in conflict with each other; Reconciling the fears and the possibilities by adopting the 'maybe' approach; Revisiting personal beliefs and experiences to develop a sharper understanding, not only of what generates a particular response to an event, but also to strengthen deep rooted values about social justice and equity.

* This framework is influenced by the work of John Shea


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

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part 2: the four challenges Having explored the broad realities of urban leadership, the booklet now looks at the community-related challenges that school leaders have to contend with, and begins to explore how they can respond to them. Challenge I: Make Sense of the Big Picture in our Cites - The Changes and Complexity Diversity, mobility & contrast Cities across the globe attract large and diverse populations. They witness societal struggles about the distribution of resources. At their extremes, they are places of:   

Contrast and disparity: between those living in opulence and those struggling with poverty; Opportunity and restriction: between those who have access to employment and rich cultural experiences and those who do not; Location and dislocation: between those who have a sense of belonging, and those who live on the margins of society.

These extremes raise issues about how societies educate the children of the most deprived, in close proximity to the most advantaged.6 Our cities are diverse, with pockets of stability and areas that change fast. Impoverished downtown areas become gentrified in relatively short periods of time: new populations move in and out, influenced by global events and the movement of refuges populations. One urban reality is this ever altering, shifting, varying nature of our communities who form a veritable kaleidoscope of constantly changing groups of people, with their day-to-day realities, hopes and dreams. In response to this complexity, it is important that schools adopt systematic ways of understanding the nature and complexity of the communities they serve. There are three particular reasons for this:

  

Firstly: local urban communities are very diverse; Secondly: they are changing rapidly; Thirdly, the staff in urban schools rarely live locally enough to be aware of these changes in the community.

Capturing the distinctive community context of individual schools can be a complex task. While some city schools are located in the centre of the communities they serve, this is not always the case. Some recruit children from a wide geographical area, others are physically located in communities which do not send their children to the school. Even when a school is positioned in the centre of its catchment area, 7 it may serve a range of disparate communities. Deciding who the communities are and what is meant by the term community can be a difficult task. As part of the project Leadership on the Front-line we wanted to enable headteachers and school principals to gain greater insights into the local community context of their schools. We asked them to carry out their own local community audit based on three core questions:   

How do I 'read' my community? What's changing? What's my role within it?

Using a tool designed for the project, they mapped their school community on four axes: (1) Population (stable or mobile e.g. with refugees and immigrants); (2) Community Profile (single or multiple communities); (3) Levels of Engagement (engaged with education or disengaged); and (4) Community Identity (integrated with a strong community identity, or fragmented with disparate communities).

6 See Riley, K.A. and Emery, H (2007, forthcoming) ‘Reconfiguring Urban School Leadership: Some Lessons from London.’ In L. Fullich and T. Brighouse (eds.) 7 For further discussion and exemplification of these issues see Riley, K.A. (forthcoming 2007). ‘Improving City Schools: Who and what makes the difference?’ In C. Sugrue (ed.), New Directions for Educational Change: International Perspectives. London: Routledge.


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Once participants had undertaken the mapping exercise they were left with a 'shape' which related to their own community context. This exercise generated considerable discussion and helped create a shared language to discuss the complexities of context.

Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Example II depicts the community context of a school in Liverpool which serves a highly mobile draws from multiple population and a range of communities.

Based on the mapping exercise, we were able to distinguish four types of urban schools, those that serve:    

An inner-city single, relatively homogenous community; Multiple and diverse communities within a locality; An estate community; and 8 Multiple and diverse communities over an extended area.

Below are two examples of this mapping exercise undertaken by school leaders involved in the project ‘Leadership on the Front-Line’. Example I is a school in Tower Hamlets, London serving a predominantly Bengali community.

8

For further information see Riley, K.A. (forthcoming, 2008), ‘Leadership and urban education’. In B McGaw.,E Baker & P.P. Peterson (eds.), International Encyclopaedia of Education 3rd Edition. Oxford: Elsevier.


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Challenge II: Understand more about local communities & about children's lives & experiences Schools & Communities The word community has many meanings and is used widely because it conveys the sense of individuals working together with shared beliefs and goals. The intrinsic value of community membership has become a cliché: something warm and cuddly that we all want be part of. It is a truism today that schools should relate to their community. No one seriously suggests that schools should merely do their best to process the children who come through the school gates every morning, while ignoring whatever goes on outside those gates. Truisms have the advantage of being true, but very often, as in this case, they also have the disadvantage of being rather imprecise generalisations.

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Two of the Inquiry Tools provided in the booklet are offered as a way of enabling school leaders to map their local community and to be clear about why they are trying to develop closer connections. (See Inquiry Tools 2 and 3, pages 15 and 19.) Having begun this journey, the next leadership challenge is to set in place the steps needed to foster trusting relationships between schools and communities. Challenge III: Foster trusting relationships between schools and communities Trust and mutual understanding grow through relationships, through information and through knowledge. School leaders have an important role to play here. 

Schools need to have information about their local community: the history, geography, key socio-economic factors.

This information then needs to be turned into knowledge and understanding: that is an appreciation of the challenges, riches and complexities of daily life.

Knowledge and understanding are needed to build mutuality - a shared affinity and allegiance between schools and communities about the education needs of young people.

It is through that mutuality, that signing up to common goals, that schools and their communities build that final key ingredient - trust.

9

A review of the literature on schools and communities suggests that there are five main reasons why schools decide to become more engaged with their local communities:     

To improve student achievement; 10 To make schools more accountable, and to increase democratic involvement; To build social capital within communities, by encouraging schools to collaborate to promote community well-being (for example, healthier or safer communities); To develop the role of schools as moral agents, promoting social justice and responsibility for youth; and To promote school's self-interest through the development of good public relations.

Trust is the 'super glue' which binds these elements together and connects the school's internal community with its outside communities. However, it is hard to expect teachers to develop that mutuality and trust with the external community, if they do not have it within their school community. Diagram II shows how all of these elements (information, knowledge and understanding, mutuality and trust) are connected together.

9 Riley, K.A. Seashore K. (2005). Exploring New Forms of Community Leadership: Linking Schools & Communities To Improve Educational Opportunities For Young People. Nottingham: National College for School Leadership. 10 For example, Dickson, M., Halpin, D., Power, S., Telford, D., Whitty, G and Gewirtz, S. (2001). ‘Education Action Zones and Democratic Participation’. School Leadership and Management, vol.2,2,pp.168-81, May.


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Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Challenge IV: Understand school leader's role in relation to the community

Information Trust

Knowledge

Understanding

Mutuality

Diagram II - Building Trusting Relationships between Schools & Communities 11

This notion of trust is not new and the evidence is that educational reforms are doomed to fail, unless trusting relationships are present: among teachers, school 12 leaders, parents and students. Trust is the basis of real and deep rooted changes in schools. Trust enables schools to draw on the untapped resources of communities, what have been described as their 'invisible assets', the social capital which includes the networks and relationships.13 Trust does not appear out of the ether. It may emerge from respect for a profession (medical), or a calling (a priest or Imam), or a role (tenants' leader), but even then, it is dependent on the relationships which people have with those individuals. In our complex and fast changing world, trust cannot be assumed. It has to be created. And it has to be earned. 14

11

How schools and communities work together is unique to each context and based on intensively personal relationships which need to be developed. The fourth challenge is about what school leaders themselves bring to the relationships between schools and communities. They have a key role to play in valuing children's knowledge and skills. Valuing the richnesses of children's lives in this way is not new but it helps counteract intolerance and ignorance in a national climate which can be hostile to refugees, or to other faiths. The small day-to-day practices within a school - enabling young people to teach their class-mates how to say good morning in Amharic; an Islamic prayer; a poem in Jamaican patois reinforce respect and acknowledge differences. However, knowing pupils' communities is not just a matter of learning about newcomers, ethnic minorities and non-Christian faiths. It also involves understanding more about longer-standing families in the community - the white working class - who have always been the main source of pupils in our urban schools. There has often been a tension - frequently a very creative tension between the attitudes and values of teachers who are largely middle-class (by profession if not by origin) and their white working-class students. It is also important to recognize that these groups are not as they always have been. They are evolving too, responding to newcomers and to the many other changes in society. This process of reaching out to communities raises important issues for school leaders about how to manage the four realities they inhabit: the physical; the social and political; the emotional; and the spiritual or ethical, as discussed in the previous section. Tool 1 (page 13) provides a framework for doing this. This process also reinforces the importance of building connections between schools and communities. However, this challenge goes beyond reaching out to help the community and is about learning from, and making better use of existing resources in the community. The goal is to create shared beliefs about what can be achieved for, and by, the young people of our cities. In the next section of the booklet five

Louis, K.S. and Kruse, S.s. (Eds). (1995). Professionalism and Community: Perspectives on reforming urban schools, Thousand OAKS, CA: Corwin Press. Louis, K.S.(2004). ‘Professional Community, Organizational Learning, Trust: School Culture and Leadership for School Improvement.’ Presentation to the London Leadership Centre, Institute of Education, June. 12 Byrk, A.S. and Scheider, B (2002). Trust In School: A Core Resource for School Reform. Russell Sage Foundation. 13 Hargreaves, D (2003). ‘Leadership for transformation within the London Challenge.’ Annual Lecture of the London Leadership Centre, Institute of Education, May. 14 Taken from Riley, K.A. and Stoll L. (2005). Leading Communities: Purposes, paradoxes and possibilities - Professorial Lecture. London : Institute of Education, pp1-34.


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

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part 3: reflective & analytical tools for school leaders This section of Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader offers five reflective and analytical tools for leaders of our city schools. Four of these were developed as part of the project Leadership on the Front-line and one, through some parallel work on Community Leadership. All five tools are derived from research and connect to practice.

The common framework for each Inquiry Tool is as follows: 

What can the tool be used for? (i.e. likely goals/ outcomes)

Why is it meaningful or important?

The first tool aims to encourage headteachers/school principals to understand themselves within the context in which they lead and manage, and to think about how they will sustain themselves - and thrive in a challenging context. It has a strong ethical basis.

Who can use the tool or who can be brought into a shared use of the tool?

How can the tool be used? (To gather information? To develop understanding? To change practice?)

Inquiry Tool 1: The Four Realities of Leadership: A Personal Mapping Tool

When can the tool be used? (New headteachers? New members of a senior management team?)

Four further tools set out to enable school leaders to connect their thinking and understanding about the external community directly back into the school community. Inquiry Tool 2: Schools and Community Card Sort: Why do schools and communities need to be more closely connected? Inquiry Tool 3: Community Audit and Mapping: Features of Community Context Inquiry Tool 4: Children's lives and Experiences: What's it like living here? What's it like being in this school? Inquiry Tool 5: Redefining the Notion of Community: Induction Exercise The Inquiry Tools aim to:     

Enable school leaders to identify the issues for them (the barriers and opportunities for change); Support them in mapping out a journey and deciding on priorities; Encourage them to be engaged and committed to the challenges; Make explicit the learning; Offer them mental models and a language to make better sense of the complexity, and to bring that learning back into school.

Trust enables schools to draw on the untapped resources of communities, what have been described as their ‘invisible assets’, the social capital which includes the networks and relationships.


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Inquiry Tool I: The Four Realities

Page Thirteen

THE TOOL: A Personal Mapping Activity The tool provides serving and aspiring school leaders with a mental model which will enable them to reflect on what occupies their time and their minds, and to reconnect to their core values. This self-knowledge is a key aspect of what is needed to survive and thrive as an urban leader. 

WHAT?  The purpose is to carry out a 'reality' check.  The tool can be used with a range of groups and in a range of contexts.  It could be linked to school development activities.

WHY?  It gives school leaders a picture of what's going on.  It is a self-review tool that starts from an unconventional place.  It gives school leaders a better picture of the context of their school and their own response to it.  It encourages people to talk about what's really happening, rather than think what they ought to say.  It helps create a culture of honest responses.

HOW?  Use with Leadership Team, Middle Leadership.  Use in an appreciative enquiry way. 

It's a journey which starts from the inner-reality of the school, moves into the locational - the community the children come from and then returns to the developmental priorities and values of the school. It has a strong planning element of: How do we improve the school? Benchmark different groups?

WHEN?  It could be a benchmarking tool to see how things have changed.

ACTION Re-read 'The Four Realities: Creating an Integrated Language for Leading', p3. Map you own reality on the framework provided (Tool I on page 14).    

What does it tell you? How does it compare with that of colleagues? Where are the points of tension? How attuned are you to your spiritual reality?

It is a truism today that schools should relate to their community. No one seriously suggests that schools should merely do their best to process the children who come through the school gates every morning.


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Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

INQUIRY TOOL 1 : THE FOUR REALITIES

Social & Political Reality

Physical Reality

Your Leadership Reality Emotional Reality

Spiritual Reality


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Inquiry Tool 2: Schools & Community Card Sort - Card Sort Activity This tool focuses on why schools and communities should be more strongly connected to each other. It was developed following some exploratory work which focused on the benefits to be gained from stronger links between schools and communities; how these links could be achieved; and the implications for school leaders.15 THE TOOL - A Card Sort Exercise 

WHAT?  This is an immediate and enjoyable way of looking into the relationships between schools and their local communities.  It tests understandings, develops aims and school priorities, surfacing assumptions.

WHY?  It is a very democratic exercise which encourages participants to think about the purposes of the school-community relationship.  It also helps build community through sharing implict and explicit values and beliefs.

WHO?  Senior management teams.  All staff.  Range of stakeholders e.g. governors.

Page Fifteen

HOW AND WHEN?  Workshop sessions.  Staff/SMT meetings.  Professional development activities.

ACTION  Re-read the Four Challenges pages 7 to 10.  Carry out the activity described on page 18 and link the findings to your school plans.

15 This work was funded by the National College for School Leadership. Riley, K.A. Seashore K. (2005). Exploring New Forms of Community Leadership: Linking Schools & Communities To Improve Educational Opportunities For Young People. Nottingham: National College for School Leadership.


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Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

INQUIRY TOOL 2 : SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY Instruction Sheet for Participants School/Organisation

Name

Role in relation to the school(s) Consider the 20 statements on your cards about schools and communities. Each begins with the following: ‘Schools and communities need to be more closely linked so that... Task 1 Select the ten which you think are the most important: (i) Arrange your ten cards in order of importance; (ii) Record your arrangement below

Task 2 Share your choice with the group and explain why the statements you have selected are important to you. Task 3 Are there any other statements you’d like to add?

Kathryn Riley and Karen Seashore, June 2004


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Instructions for Group Facilitator You will need: • Flip chart • Either one red and one black flip chart pen, or 10 stickers (5 red, 5 black) for each participant • Instruction sheet for each participant • Set of cards for each participants (There are 20 in a set.) The purpose: The core purpose of this activity (developed by Professors Kathryn Riley and Karen Seashore for the National College for School Leadership) is to generate discussion about why school and communities need to be more closely connected. The activity, which should take about 50 minutes, consists of 20 statements about the relationships between schools and communities. These statements have been developed from a review of the literature.

Page Seventeen

Tasks: Task 1: about 10-15 minutes Ask your colleagues to consider the statements on the cards about why schools and communities need to be more closely connected. Encourage them to select their priorities on their own and to record the 10 most important statements on their sheet in order of importance. Remind them that there are no right or wrong answers! When they have completed this task, ask them to come to the front to record their views on the flip chart. They can use the coloured stickers, or you can use red and black pens. Task 2: about 15-20 minutes When everyone has completed this activity, identify the two most popular priorities and ask your group what they think about the group's priorities. Why, for example, did they make their choices?

The group: Maximum about 20. If the numbers are larger, then divide them into smaller groups, each with their own facilitator. The groups can be from within a school (staff and pupils), across schools, across a school and its local community. Whatever is right for you and your school.

Time permitting: Look at the next two priorities. • What does the group think about these? Look also at items which were not considered priorities. • Are there any surprises?

Instructions: The main instructions for the activity are included on the sheet for participants. Begin by giving each participant a set of cards using the 20 statements shown on page 18. Either cut the cards before the session, or take some scissors with you for participants to do this themselves. Attached to the cards should be 10 stickers (5 red, 5 black). Alternatively, you can use red and black pens on the flip chart.

Task 3: about 10 minutes This is a chance for individuals to reflect on other possibilities.


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Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

2.

Teachers understand more about where children come from and what motivates children

4.

Teachers and parents can work together more closely and help pupils to achieve.

6.

Local people can have more of a say in important decisions in their schools.

8.

Young people have more opportunities to be involved in decisions about their lives.

10.

Vandalism and anti-social behaviour among young people is reduced.

12.

Adults as well as children are encouraged to learn.

14.

They can work together to tackle racism and other forms of discrimination.

Business, education and community leaders will have more chances to work together for the benefit of young people.

16.

Schools can do more to prepare new immigrant groups to take part in society.

17.

They can agree on fundamental values.

18.

Discipline and behaviour within schools is improved.

19.

Schools will employ more people who understand the local community.

20.

People will have more information that could help them choose a school.

1.

Children learn to become more responsible adults.

3.

The curriculum will be more relevant for pupils.

5.

Schools will be accountable to their local community.

7.

They can come together to plan for what they want for children.

9.

Children have a sense of belonging in their community.

11.

The local area is safer, healthier and more attractive.

13.

Parents will feel included in their child’s education.

15.


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Inquiry Tool 3: Community Audit & Mapping: Features of Community Context

Page Nineteen

HOW?  Use what comes out of task to build understanding and knowledge of community needs/ lives/ expectations.  Following the exercise, reflect on how the findings can be used and developed.  It is useful to include the range of data already available in schools to inform the process.

WHEN?  Be clear on context: what you want to find out, and from whom?  It could be used:

Part II of the booklet (p.7), described how the development of the mapping tool had enabled headteachers and school principals involved in the project Leadership on the Front-line to gain greater insights into the local community context of their schools. They were asked to map their school community on four axes: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Population (stable or mobile e.g. with refugees and immigrants); Community profile (single or multiple communities); Levels of engagement (engaged with education or disengaged); and Community identity (integrated with a strong community identity, or fragmented with disparate communities).

THE TOOL - Community Audit & Mapping 

WHAT?  This is an investigative or exploratory tool which helps schools to understand more about the local context.  The key questions are: What implications does this have for us in our school. What will we do about it? WHY?  To find out what different groups/ communities need.  Schools need to know about community to be able to do their job effectively. WHO?  Use with a senor leadership team, or with mixed role group to raise awareness of others' roles and knowledge, experiences.  Done collaboratively, it can help to break down perceived hierarchies and share the knowledge.  It could be used to inform teachers/staff at beginning of year - e.g. transition to a new class.

-

At the beginning of school year (whole school); With new group of staff (support staff etc.); Once a year to check out what has changed/remained the same locally; At times of significant change - challenge.

ACTION The Audit Map (page 20) has four axes. Map you school or college on each of these axes. Connect the four points and shade in the space. Compare your drawing with those of others taking part in this exercise.  What are the similarities/ differences?  What have you learned?  What are the implications?


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INQUIRY TOOL 3 : AUDIT MAP

Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

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Inquiry Tool 4: Children's Lives & Experiences

Part of the investigative work in Leadership on the Front-line has been an exploration of the lives and experiences of young people. Working with nearly 500 children aged 3-17 in 49 of the schools in the project, we asked two broad questions: What is it like living round here? What is it like being in this school? The children and young people told us much about their lives: the disjuncture between school and community; issues to do with safety, space and territory, culture and belief; and issues about territory.

ACTION The two core questions to be explored are:  What's it like living round here?  What's it like being in this school?

We asked them to draw pictures which illustrated their experience of life within the wider community. These images are vivid and looking at young people's lives in new ways enabled school leaders involved in the project to understand the totality of children's lives and the complexities of community - see page 4 for an example.16

This is a difficult and sensitive task. Before you start, you will need to be clear about why and how you will use what you learn. Clarify the purpose of the exercise: e.g. 'To help me find out more about your lives both in and out of school, so that we can make the school a better place for you.'

THE TOOL: Children's Lives and Experiences The tool is designed to enable headteachers/ school principals and their staff to gain fresh insights into children's lives and experiences and connect this learning back into school or college. It could be linked to action research which focuses on particular concerns that a school or college faces. 

WHAT?  The purpose is to gain fresh insights into children's lives and experiences i.e. what they bring to school and what they value about school.  It is also about gaining greater understanding about community issues.

WHY?  It gives you a picture of what's going on.  It offers you representations from children which are usually honest.  It contributes to a school's process of self-reflection and review.  It contributes to a broader understanding about the school's context.

WHO AND HOW? Stage 1 - Headteacher experiments with a small group of children to get the process right for the school. Stage 2 - He or she then involves a broader group of staff.

16

WHEN?  As a benchmarking tool to see how things have changed.  Focus on children's perceptions at certain times, or on issues in the community.

- Devise a script: e.g. 'Imagine I'm your cousin and I live in x ( a different country/ place). I 'm coming to visit you/your school. I want some photographs. Use your imaginary camera to take some pictures of the good and bad things, around where you live and in school.' - Collect your resources: Coloured pens and paper. - Make clear how the information will be used: e.g. 'I'd like to share what you've drawn with other teachers/staff so that we can learn how to make this school a better place for you.' Questions for Reflection What does it tell you about children's emotional well-being? What common themes emerge which have an impact on lives of children and families? What do young people bring to school which needs to be managed? What can be celebrated? What are the good and bad things about their experiences in school? What are the challenges for you as a leader?

Other illustration of this work can be found in Riley, K.A. (forthcoming 2007) ‘Improving City Schools: Who and what makes the difference?’ In C. Sugrue (ed.), New Directions for Educational Change: International Perspectives. London: Routledge.


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

Inquiry Tool 5: Redefining the Notion of Community In welcoming new staff into a school, the focus is typically on the schools' internal professional community: the aspirations, the systems, the boundaries. Enabling new staff - and also existing staff - to gain insight into the local community, and to bring the learning from this back into school can help strengthen connections between schools and their local communities, and transform the learning environment THE TOOL: Redefining the Notion of Community The task is to devise an induction programme that provides a perspective on community. Information and understanding from other activities described in the booklet could be used to contribute to the knowledge base for the programme. The implicit aim is to redefine the notion of community by thinking about the school's external community, as well as the internal one. The task could be more than a paper exercise. It could provide the basis for a revamped induction programme which draws on the expertise of students and community members, as well as a broad range of staff. 

WHAT?  The exercise is designed to encourage school leaders and staff to make connections between the school's internal professional community and local communities.

WHY?  City communities and city schools change fast.  New staff come into a school. They may be from very different parts of the globe but are unlikely to know the locality.

WHO AND HOW?  Draw together a small enthusiastic team.  Send them forth to experiment!

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WHEN?  It could become part of your induction programme.

ACTION Task: Devise an induction programme which focuses on school and community. The purpose of this induction programme is to enable new staff (teachers and support staff) to find out more about the school and its community context in ways that will enable them to:  Develop a greater understanding about children's lives and experiences;  Connect this learning to curriculum and learning opportunities;  Make stronger links with communities. Don't be afraid to experiment. Questions to think about:  What's changing in the community?  To what extent does the school draw on pupils' own knowledge of the community context/s in which they live?  What cultural stereotypes does the school have?


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Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

part 4: a framework for ethical and moral leadership for social justice and sustainability This booklet has outlined some of the key elements of the challenges of urban leadership. It has offered five Tools for Inquiry designed to help set in place the scaffolding on which trusting relationships between schools and families can be built. Part I of the booklet, The Four Realities: Creating an Integrated Language for Leading emphasised the importance of developing a sense of wholeness which acknowledges the challenges and the joys of leadership: the children themselves, their liveliness and exuberance; the support of staff and senior teams, the pleasure in seeing a child or a member of staff enlivened by experiencing learning in new ways. Achieving this sense of wholeness enables school leaders to reconcile what on the face of it - may seem to be the irreconcilable, and to strike a balance between the unremitting demands of the job and a sense of personal well-being. It is this balance and focus which will contribute to rich educational gains for students, staff and communities - and enable school leaders not only survive the job, but to grow and thrive in it. Diagram III offers an overview of a leadership framework for building mutuality and trust between schools and communities in ways that will help bring them together. In the light of the Every Child Matters Agenda of whole system reform of children's services, the willingness to look outwards from schools towards the external community context, and at the range of organizations and agencies which are working with children and young people, is critical. The model offered is a collaborative one which has a strong ethical and moral foundation, linked to social justice and to broader concerns about environmental sustainability. It has a very locality based focus, deriving from the community context. It is dependent for its success on building on, and connecting to local networks.

The specific elements of the model include:      

Understanding the local context and discovering the community; Knowing the challenges and celebrating the opportunities; Redefining the notion of community by connecting schools’ internal professional community to the local community/ies; Developing self-knowledge and building emotional resilience; Fostering mutuality and trust; Creating a shared belief in possibilities.

The model offered is a collaborative one which has a strong ethical and moral foundation, linked to social justice and to broader concerns about environmental sustainability.


Surviving & Thriving as an Urban Leader • Kathryn Riley (2007)

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DIAGRAM III: OVERVIEW OF A LEADERSHIP FRAMEWORK

© K.A. Riley, 2007


The Author Professor Kathryn Riley is based at the London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education, University of London. She has been in education for many years, beginning as a volunteer teacher in Eritrea, and then teaching in inner-city schools in London before holding senior academic positions in Birmingham and London. She has been an elected member of the Inner London Education Authority and a local authority Chief Officer. As part of her international work, she spent two years in 1999-2001 with the World Bank, heading its Effective Schools and Teachers Group. Kathryn is interested in how educational change takes place, particularly in urban contexts, and the contribution of school leaders, parents, communities, teachers and pupils to the change process. Current research focuses on urban leadership (through the project Bringing Leaders Together to Learn Together: Leadership on the Front-line which involves headteachers and school principals from schools in challenging contexts in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, City of Londonderry, Dublin, Liverpool, London and Manchester and Salford) and pupil disaffection (through a London Challenge Project 'Re-engaging Disaffected Students in Learning', a project involving troubled and troublesome students from challenging urban schools). She can be contacted at: London Centre for Leadership in Learning Institute of Education, University of London 20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL Tel: 0207 911 5365 email: k.riley@ioe.ac.uk


surviving & thriving as an urban leader

ISBN 0-9550485-4-0


Surviving and Thriving