I've had the opportunity to have spent 3 days working with leader colleagues from across the Parramatta system of schools facilitated by Michael Fullan.
It was refreshing to focus energies on possibilities of improvement by building capacity that is beyond formulaic reviewing and measuring school effectiveness. I love the phrase that I picked up in Scotland when visiting there in 2006: "Weighing the pig more often doesn't make it fatter!"
Michael presented a framework that focused on improvement through PRECISION and SPECIFICITY around what works in moving things forward with a clear focus on a small number of goals. To achieve improvement three things are needed:
Transparency of results and practice + Non-judgementalism + Good help.
I think that this is what Tim Brighouse did to bring about the change in Birmingham under his stewardship.
The challenge for me, and for all interested in school improvement is to engage in authentic ways with schools communities, the teachers, their leaders, the students in exploring the issues that challenge the school.
A theory of action
The way forward inovolves developing a Theory of Action that has the dual effect of improving learning outcomes and life opportunities for students as well as building the capacity of the school. With this would come increased satisfaction in teaching.
An unrelenting focus on learning
What is required is an unrelenting focus on students and their learning, with a precision and specificity focused on Pedagogical Synergy - the alignment of curriculum, assessment and pedagogy(teaching/instruction).