The National Leaders of Education program is based on evidence showing that the quality of school leadership is one of the most powerful determinants of teacher quality and student outcomes. High performing education are increasingly adopting ‘system leadership’ models to drive school improvement at scale, where the expertise of high performing leaders is harnessed to develop the capability of other schools. This program contextualizes this methodology for low-income settings.
The program is based on the premise that there are outliers or ‘bright spots’ of excellent school leadership practice to be found in any local setting, which can be used to motivate others and be captured for use as highly contextualized local solutions. The program pairs leaders from high-performing schools in a local area with statistically similar but lower performing schools. The coaching and mentoring skills of these high-performing leaders, called ‘system leaders’, are developed through training and support. The paired leaders then agree on a measurable school improvement priority directly linked to improved teaching and learning outcomes. Paired leaders meet regularly for coaching and support for the school improvement target as well as to visit each other’s schools. This coaching relationship and ‘learning on the job’ enables rapid and sustained improved school outcomes to be achieved.
The ‘system leadership’ model has been piloted in low-cost private schools in Mumbai and Nairobi, which demonstrated statistically significant improvements in leadership competence of both the system and beneficiary leaders and improved teaching quality at the beneficiary schools. These pilots showed the mutual benefits of the program; with the system leader being more able to codify their effective practice and gaining career development whilst the beneficiary leader significantly improving their own leadership practice and their school performance.
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CEI approaches in action
Based upon the positive evidence from the proof of concept pilots, the National Leaders of Education program hopes to scale-up in Kenya and India, and build further impact evidence. This will involve extending this program to many more schools and continuing to build the capacity of the initial cohort of system leaders to take on an increased role in the program. Education Development Trust also aims to pilot this program in other countries and embed the ‘system leadership’ model into wider education improvement programmes. In the next stage of growth, the organization plans to commission a third-party impact evaluation to provide independent and rigorous evidence of impact.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Based upon the program theory of change, Education Development Trust developed an M&E framework outlining the four levels of change they expected as a result of this programme. For every level of change a series of indicators was defined, each with data collection tools and a data collection strategy.
The program collects data in three main categories:
- School leadership competence through a leader’s self-assessment and collecting the teachers’ views on the change in behaviors of the school leader through teacher focus groups.
- Teaching quality is measured through a sample of lesson observations using a defined proforma.
- Change in identified school improvement priority, documented through the school leader completing a proforma and providing supporting evidence for change.
Statistically significant improvements in school leadership outcomes and teaching quality in schools participating in the program.