Exploratory study

Phase 1 and Phase 2

The exploratory study’sfirst phaseemployed qualitative methods to the end of identifying the perceptions of various stakeholders as to the central issues relating to school quality in Austria’s education system. It included interviews with school inspectors, headteachers and other individuals with professional responsibility for school quality, and a group discussion with key stakeholders involved in theoretical and practical areas of school quality and teacher training in Austria.

The aim of the exploratory interviews was to determine how the SQTE project might provide maximum benefit to the Austrian school system how best to help headteachers, school inspectors and other stakeholders responsible for quality development incorporate insights from the project into their professional practices. Four interviews took place: the interviewees were an inspector of schools, a headteacher from a ‘new middle school’ (Neue Mittelschule, covering school years 5 to 8), a ministry employee whose remit includes school quality development, and a teacher working as a Teach for Austria Fellow (Teach for Austria is a programme bringing recent graduates into schools with disadvantaged pupil populations, along the lines of the Teach First and Teach for America schemes). Further, this phase included six exploratory interviews conducted in England with the purpose of identifying the issues and topics raised by headteachers when they are asked to talk about school quality. The interviewees were headteachers and members of SLT from two highly effective schools in Oxfordshire. This phase of the exploratory study led to the creation of an interview guide for the expert interviews to take place in the principal study.

On 25 March 2019, approximately 50 headteachers, school inspectors, teachers, teacher trainers and academics met for a group discussion as part of the project. The picture shows Ulrike Greiner, head of the School of Education at the University of Salzburg, alongside Michael Sörös, a leading inspector of schools in Austria, who provided impetus for the discussion with a presentation.

It became apparent during this phase of the project that the development of quality in schools located in deprived areas and raising learning outcomes for disadvantaged pupils were central issues for the Austrian context. On this basis, and on that of the literature review additionally conducted in this phase, we decided to place the main emphasis of the SQTE study on quality development in ‘Turnaround Schools’ in London and in England’s designated ‘Opportunity Areas’.

The quantitative part of the exploratory study (phase 2) entailed analysis of (school inspection reports) and of school performance and improvement data (Progress 8 Score), for the purpose of identifying highly effective and improving schools and therefore forming a basis for the sample on which the qualitative part of the principal study will rest. here takes you to the collected school performance data of a school in Bradford at which we interviewed several senior leadership team (SLT) members.