Managing External Relations in Schools and Colleges


Edited by: Jacky Lumby & Nick Foskett

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    Series Editor's Foreword

    The emergence of self-governing schools and colleges in many countries in the 1990s has served to enhance the significance of all aspects of management. This is particularly true of external relations because of the importance of developing and sustaining effective links with partners and clients. The vitality, and perhaps the survival, of schools depends on satisfying the demands of students and surrogate students such as parents and funding bodies. As a result, the management of relationships with a wide range of external groups has taken centre stage instead of being a peripheral issue.

    The legislation which established self-managing educational institutions has been accompanied by heightened accountability requirements. As well as the disciplines of the market place, schools and colleges have to cope with increased demands for public accountability. These are manifested through regular inspections, the publication of performance data and, for some, the prospect of being ‘named and shamed’ for poor performance. The twin demands of public and market accountability represent a potentially devastating pincer movement for schools and colleges. Unpopular institutions do not recruit well, particularly amongst the discriminating middle classes, and this has a direct impact on their funding and on their ability to resource improvement. If this produces poor results, it is likely to be accompanied by negative publicity which inevitably leads to a further downturn in recruitment and the prospect of decline leading to closure.

    Effective management of external relations is insufficient to reverse such a damaging spiral and will be ineffective if the fundamentals of sound teaching and learning are missing. However, it has a vital role to play as part of a strategy to enhance quality. As the boundary between schools and their communities and stakeholders becomes more permeable, proactive management of relationships with these potential clients and supporters is an essential element in ensuring that perceptions of the institution become, or remain, positive.

    The development of effective managers in education requires the support of literature which presents the major issues in clear, intelligible language while drawing on the best of theory and research. The purpose of this series is to examine the management of schools and colleges, drawing on empirical evidence. The approach is analytical rather than descriptive and generates conclusions about the most appropriate ways of managing schools and colleges on the basis of research evidence.

    The aim of this series, and of this volume, is to develop a body of literature with the following characteristics:

    • Directly relevant to school and college management.
    • Prepared by authors with national and international reputations.
    • An analytical approach based on empirical evidence but couched in intelligible language.
    • Integrating the best of theory, research and practice.

    Managing External Relations in Schools and Colleges is the third volume in the series and its underlying rationale is that organisational ‘health’ depends to a significant extent on the ways in which leaders both represent the school to the community and respond to the requirements of the institution's stakeholders or partners. An inclusive approach to management, involving all with a legitimate interest in the organisation, is an essential part of the process of building a successful school or college. The purpose of this book is to provide insights into the nature of effective external relations as a central dimension of management in education.

    TonyBushUniversity of Leicester, September 1998


    The community of any school or college is at the centre of a web of relationships with individuals and groups, some of which are experienced as personal and frequent while some are formal and periodic. The range of relationships may ripple outwards from parents who visit the infant classroom on a daily basis to the infrequent video conferencing link with a school on another continent. The increase in numbers of those to whom educational organisations must relate is matched by a significant shift in the nature of relationships. The 1980s and 1990s have seen a series of government-led initiatives internationally which have resulted in the ‘marketisation’ of education. The theoretical greater freedom of choice for parents and students this generates, allied to the link between pupil/student numbers and funding, has led to overt competition between institutions. The environment of each individual institution (its ‘micro-market’) may intensify or negate the degree of competition, but for many schools and colleges, the relationship with potential and current learners, their families, and with all those groups who may report on their performance, takes on a different significance to the previous era, where the supply of learners and funds was largely stable and secure. Scanning and responding to the external environment is no longer optional for schools and colleges but lies at the heart of ensuring a quality educational provision for pupils/students and surviving as a viable and credible learning organisation.

    Though these developments have spanned two decades, still there remain many uncertainties about how educational institutions can manage the boundary between themselves and others, or indeed if such a boundary can any longer be discerned with any clarity. If the primary purpose of the institution is to manage learning, the fact that learning is now likely to take place in the home and the workplace as a lifetime experience has confronted educational managers with the need to rethink the definition of ‘external’ and take account of permeable borders.

    The appropriate response has been seen by many as the adoption of ‘marketing’, a term common in business but relatively new to most educational institutions. The importing of a marketing philosophy and practice into the non-profit public sector has undoubtedly offered some useful ideas, but can also be dangerously misleading. Its translation to a sector which has social as well as financial aims requires caution. Many schools and colleges have interpreted the term as meaning selling or promotion. This may lead to a focus on attracting potential students and presenting a consistent positive public relations front to all, a stance which can be detrimental to the development of teaching and learning, and has been captured in a number of metaphors such as Hargreaves' ‘Kentucky Fried Schooling’ or Brighouse's ‘bewildering bazaars’.

    The pressures leading to such a response, the need to retain or increase student numbers, the frequent and public notice of successes and failures, are understandable, but the premise of this book is that they must be resisted, and that the management of external relations is a strategic responsibility of educational leaders which cannot be relegated to ‘bolt-on’ publicity and public relations activities. Rather, the primary task is to involve all staff in understanding the needs and wants of the immediate and wider community and to make decisions as to how a response will be shaped. Different imperatives will come into play. With some groups, such as parents, it may be important genuinely to build a sense of community by aligning values. With others, such as employers, the need for exchange and understanding may be uppermost. Other groups, such as the local authority or Ofsted, may require an account.

    Such an approach envisages the proactive management of external relations as axiomatic to developing the quality of teaching and learning. The emphasis is on partnership and on enabling others to contribute the full richness of resource of the wider community to the education of learners of all ages. As such, educational leaders do not primarily need specialist expertise in the commercial tenets of marketing, nor extensive investment in glossy communication or ‘marketing’ staff. What is needed is a commitment to reflective analysis on what it means to be responsive, how the external environment can be understood and engaged, and a consequent refocusing of activities. This agenda is equally relevant across all phases of education.

    This volume offers the stimulus for reflective analysis. The first section establishes the context for the management of external relations. Tony Bush examines the way in which external relations can be understood in an international context. David Scott explores the ever-increasing emphasis on accountability. The key concepts of external relations and marketing are placed in the context of strategic management by Nick Foskett. In the final chapter of this section, Valerie Hall explores the shifting tides of competition and partnership, and how far the two may be seen as different approaches. This introductory section establishes the key theoretical concepts which underlie the choices of how to act explored later in the volume.

    The second section analyses managing relations with different groups of stakeholders. The different legislative base of schools and further education colleges and the difference in scale, with the latter often providing for many thousands of students, leads to differences in approach. This is reflected in the chapters which focus on one phase only. The first two chapters investigate the impact of legislation and government initiatives on schools and colleges. The number of changes and speed of introduction has demanded exceptional skills of response and these chapters scrutinise how far schools and colleges have managed the process. Keith Foreman uses a small sample of headteachers to establish how the demands of government have been experienced and managed. Jane Hemsley-Brown describes the plethora of initiatives changing the face of further education and their impact on colleges.

    Governors are a particularly interesting case, in that they straddle the boundary between the school and the external environment. They are both part of the school and also represent external groups. As such their role is pivotal. The ways in which schools can work with governors are considered by Michael Creese and Peter Earley. Relations with parents are sometimes placed within the formal requirements to communicate and consult on parents evenings and at the annual governors meeting. David Middlewood makes the case for a more holistic and proactive stance, reflecting the international trend of greater expectations of involvement from parents and the potential of a genuine partnership. Reflecting the larger scale of activity in the further education sector, in terms of numbers of students and programmes, Peter Davies explores how colleges can meet the challenge of identifying the needs of so many disparate groups and individuals. If learners are to experience a coherent educational experience and if resources are to be used effectively within the education system as a whole, then working with other educational organisations is significant. Margaret Preedy demonstrates the ways in which collaboration can lead to school improvement and how competitive alliances can work to the advantage of individual organisations. The final group to be considered in this section is employers and business. The first part of the preface argued that there is a curriculum imperative for schools and colleges to use the full range of resource to support learning. The role of employers and business may be particularly critical as a link to wider society. Marianne Coleman explores the mutuality of well-managed relations with employers.

    The final section approaches the management of external relations in a more holistic fashion by exploring the processes involved at a strategic level. A choice in relation to the environment depends on a full sense of knowing of what that environment consists. Stephen Waring analyses the ways in which educational organisations can establish systems to sense the external environment. Adopting a proactive stance to managing external relations will involve value judgements. Jacky Lumby explores the concept of responsiveness and argues that managing learning into the twenty-first century will involve an adjustment of values to ensure that relations with interested groups are based on equality and enabling. To conclude, Nick Foskett and Jane Hemsley-Brown turn the focus outwards to suggest ways in which the values and aims of the organisation can be communicated in a way which transcends simplistic promotion and engages the community in the excitement of supporting learning.

    Throughout the volume the connection between the management of external relations and teaching and learning is at the heart. If learning is to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, the ways in which schools and colleges manage the permeability of their boundaries and establish a template for a learning organisation is potentially a powerful tool for metamorphosing individual learning organisations into a learning society.

    The editors are grateful to all the contributors whose work appears in this volume. Thanks are also due for the advice, support and encouragement of the series editor, Tony Bush, and of Marianne Lagrange of Paul Chapman/Sage Publishing. We would also like to thank Christopher Bowring-Carr for preparing the index. Finally warm appreciation is given to Debbie Simister, Sue Robertson and Joyce Palmer for administrative support and producing the manuscript. We hope that readers of the volume may find the results of these labours as stimulating as we did.

    JackyLumby and NickFoskett, October 1998

    Notes on Contributors

    Tony Bush is Professor of Educational Management and Director of the Educational Management Development Unit at the University of Leicester. He was formerly a teacher in secondary schools and colleges and a professional officer with a local education authority. He was Senior Lecturer in Educational Policy and Management at the Open University before joining Leicester in January 1992. He has published extensively on several aspects of educational management. His main recent books are Managing Autonomous Schools: The Grant Maintained Experience (with M. Coleman and D. Glover, Paul Chapman, 1993), The Principles of Educational Management (with J. West-Burnham, Longman, 1994), Theories of Educational Management (Paul Chapman, second edition, 1995) and Managing People in Education (with D. Middlewood, Paul Chapman, 1997).

    Marianne Coleman has extensive experience in education, mainly teaching in secondary schools, and also working in the advisory service of a large LEA. She is co-author of the book Managing Autonomous Schools: The Grant Maintained Experience. She has also published a range of materials as part of the EMDU's distance learning MBA, including Marketing in Education and Women in Educational Management. She has published articles on gender issues in management and contributed chapters to the widely read Principles of Educational Management (T. Bush and West-Burnham, Longman, 1994) and Managing People in Education (T. Bush and D. Middlewood, Paul Chapman, 1997). She has also written on the subject of mentoring. She is currently engaged in comparative research projects in China and South Africa.

    Michael Creese taught physics before becoming the headteacher of a 13–18 school in his native county of Suffolk. He then moved into governor training and was awarded his doctorate for a thesis on governor-teacher relationships. His book Effective Governors – Effective Schools; Developing the Partnership was published in 1995. He now works as a freelance consultant/researcher and has recently concluded research into the role of governors in school improvement. He was a member of the team undertaking research for the DfEE into effective school governance.

    Peter Davies is responsible for the management of FEDA-funded and contract research projects involving government departments, national and regional bodies, TECs, and individual colleges. He is also regularly involved in management training and consultancy, and is a member of the team of staff responsible for the delivery of FEDA's specialist Education Management MBA programme. Peter has played a leading role in the development of marketing management expertise in post-16 education for well over ten years, since marketing began to be recognised as a necessary activity for colleges. He is the joint author (with Keith Scribbins) of the first book on educational marketing to be published in the UK, Marketing Further and Higher Education (Longman, 1985), and has since written numerous articles and papers within the same field. He was instrumental in establishing the Marketing Network, the professional forum for marketing personnel in post-16 education, and has been a member of its Steering Group since its inception in 1987.

    Peter Earley was a school teacher originally. He then worked for ten years at the National Foundation for Educational Research undertaking a number of projects in the areas of educational management, governance and professional development. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Management Development Centre at the Institute of Education, University of London, where he is also an Associate Director of the International School Effectiveness and Improvement Centre. He is currently researching school governing bodies and their role in school improvement. His most recent publications include Improvement through Inspection? Complementary Approaches to School Development (edited with B. Fidler and J. Ouston and published by David Fulton in 1996), and School Improvement After Inspection? School and LEA Responses (Paul Chapman, 1998).

    Keith Foreman OBE was the principal of two community colleges in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire before joining the Educational Management Development Unit of Leicester University in 1994 as Senior Tutor. He is a consultant to schools and LEAs, and was a member of the DES School Management Task Force from 1989 to 1992. His research interests lie in the broad field of school leadership, but much of his time currently is taken up with HEADLAMP and NPQH.

    Nick Foskett is Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Southampton, and Director of the Centre for Research in Education Marketing (CREM). His research is in the field of marketing in all sectors of education, and he has published extensively in relation to organisational systems developed by schools and colleges for marketing and also in relation to educational choice and decision-making by pupils and parents. Recent publications include Managing External Relations in Schools, an edited volume for Routledge (1992), and Career Perceptions and Decision-making in Schools and Colleges, a national survey of ‘buyer behaviour’ in education for Heist (1997).

    Valerie Hall was formerly Reader in Education in the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. She has been a teacher and researcher in schools, further, higher and adult education for over thirty years. Throughout her career she has had a particular interest in the relationship between experience of work and personal biography, social context and adult learning processes. Her research on teaching, managing and leading in education has resulted in a number of publications, including her latest book Dancing on the Ceiling, which is study of women head-teachers.

    Jane Hemsley-Brown is Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Research in Education Marketing (CREM) in the Research and Graduate School of Education, University of Southampton. Her background is in teaching, having taught in schools and colleges for over twenty years. She has worked on national research programmes, including career perceptions and student decision-making, and pupil awareness and understanding of higher education and its impact on education choices. Prior to joining CREM in 1997 she worked at the University of Greenwich as Research Fellow in Post Compulsory Education and Training.

    Jacky Lumby is a Lecturer in Educational Management at the Educational Management Development Unit at Leicester University. She has previously taught in a range of educational settings, including schools, community and further education. Prior to joining Leicester University, she worked in a Training and Enterprise Council with responsibility for the development of managers in both business and education. Current projects include research in the management of vocational education in China and in South Africa. She has published articles on the management of the curriculum and the development of managers in the further education sector and also on strategic planning in colleges. She has published within EMDU's distance learning MBA and was a contributor to the first volume in this series, Managing People in Education (T. Bush and D. Middlewood, 1997) and joint editor of the second volume, Strategic Management in Schools and Colleges.

    David Middlewood is a Senior Tutor in Educational Management and Director of School- and College-based Programmes at the Educational Management Development Unit of the University of Leicester. He taught in schools and community colleges for twenty-five years, including nine years as a headteacher, before joining Leicester University in 1990. His special interests are appraisal (in which he has extensive research experience), staff selection and development and management structures. His publications include work on appraisal, human resources and development planning, and most recently Managing People in Education (1997, with Tony Bush), the first volume in this series, and Strategic Management in Schools and Colleges (with Jacky Lumby), the second volume. Current research involves human resource management in South African schools, and teacher appraisal in New Zealand.

    Margaret Preedy is a Lecturer in the Centre for Educational Policy and Management, School of Education, The Open University. Her recent publications include: Educational Management: Strategy, Quality and Resources (1997, with R. Glatter and R. Levacic, eds.) and Organisational Effectiveness and Improvement in Education (1997, with A. Harris and N. Bennett, eds.).

    David Scott is a Lecturer in Educational Research Methods at the London University Institute of Education. He has carried out a number of research projects, in the fields of race, examinations, early childhood literacy and libraries. He has published some 40 articles in academic journals and chapters in books. He has written Reading Research Texts (Falmer Press), Educational Research: Epistemology and Social Theory (Falmer Press), Researching Education: Data, Methods and Theory in Educational Enquiry (Cassell) with Robin Usher, and edited Effective Health Promotion: Evaluating Health Initiatives and Interventions (Stanley Thornes Ltd) with Ros Weston, Values and Educational Research (Bedford Way Papers), Understanding Educational Research (Routledge) with Robin Usher, and Accountability and Control in Educational Settings (Cassell). He is the current editor of the Curriculum Journal.

    Stephen Waring is Director of Corporate Services at Salisbury College of Further Education, where he is responsible for marketing and external relations. Previously Marketing Manager at Totton Sixth Form College in Southampton, he also spent twelve years teaching in Inner London comprehensive schools and in adult education. He was an Associate Lecturer of the Open University until 1997. His published work includes research into school governing bodies, as well as articles on marketing, teacher training, and equal opportunities.

    Glossary of Terms

    AGITAction for Governors Information and Training
    CAD/CAMComputer aided design/computer aided manufacture
    CBIConfederation of British Industry
    CBMACollege Business Managers Association
    CEOCommunity and Enterprise Office
    CERICentre for Educational Research and Innovation
    CTCCity technology college
    DESDepartment of Education and Science
    DfEEDepartment for Education and Employment
    DLEDemand-led element (of FEFC funding)
    EAZEducation action zone
    EBPEducation Business Partnership
    ERAEducation Reform Act (1988)
    ESFEuropean Social Fund
    FASFunding Agency for Schools
    FEFurther education
    FEDAFurther Education Development Agency
    FEFCFurther Education Funding Council
    FEUFurther Education Unit
    GCSEGeneral Certificate of Secondary Education
    GMGrant maintained
    GNVQGeneral National Vocational Qualification
    HEADLAMPHeadteacher Leadership and Management Programme
    HEIHigher education institution
    ICTInformation and communication technology
    IESInstitute of Employment Studies
    INSETIn-service education and training (of teachers)
    ITInformation technology
    KSKey Stage (of the curriculum)
    LEALocal education authority
    LMALabour market assessment
    LMILabour market information
    LMSLocal management of schools
    MSCManpower Services Commission
    NACETTNational Advisory Council for Education and Training Targets
    NAONational Audit Office
    NCNational Curriculum
    NCCNational Curriculum Council
    NEDONational Economic Development Office
    NFERNational Foundation for Educational Research
    NPQHNational Professional Qualification for Headship
    NQTNewly qualified teacher
    NTETNational Targets for Education and Training
    NVQNational Vocational Qualification
    OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
    PANDASPerformance and Assessment Data
    PASCIParental and School Choice Interaction Study
    PFIPrivate Finance Initiative
    PIPerformance indicator
    QCAQualifications and Curriculum Authority
    QPIDQuality and Performance Improvement Division
    SCIPSchool Curriculum Industry Partnership
    SDPSchool development plan
    SENSpecial education needs
    SMESmall and medium-sized enterprises
    SMTSenior Management Team
    SOCStandard Occupational Qualification
    SWOTStrengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
    TECTraining and Enterprise Council
    TESTimes Educational Supplement
    THESTimes Higher Education Supplement
    TNATraining needs analysis
    TQMTotal quality management
    TTATeacher Training Agency
    TUCTrades Union Council
    TVEITechnical and vocational education initiative

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