Changing Education Systems: A Research-based Approach, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Changing Education Systems

A Research-based Approach, 1st Edition

By Mel Ainscow, Christopher Chapman, Mark Hadfield


220 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367221867
pub: 2019-11-15
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 15th November 2019
Hardback: 9780367221775
pub: 2019-11-15
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 15th November 2019

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As countries seek to develop their education systems, achieving sustainable improvements amongst students from disadvantaged communities remains a major challenge. This has considerable implications for those in the research community as they seek to influence developments in the field.

Drawing on the authors’ extensive experiences as researchers, policy advisors and influencers, Changing Education Systems offers key insights on how to promote equity within education systems. Exploring three large-scale national reform programmes, the book:

  • Presents a series of propositions that are the basis of a research-based approach to system change
  • Explains the creation of relationships in which academic researchers collaborate in the process of development
  • Considers smaller place-based projects that are set within policy contexts dominated by the idea of market forces as a strategy for improvement
  • Explores the steps needed to overcome locally specific barriers

Changing Education Systems is a must-read for policy-makers and practitioners involved in educational reforms, as well as researchers wishing to contribute to and learn from such developments.


Ainscow, Chapman and Hadfield's new volume 'Changing Education systems: a research-based approach' is a timely and substantial new contribution to the school improvement field. The authors are an experienced and formidable team who have built on their research and work with schools and policy makers over more than three decades. Their book focusses on the 'big issues' in research and improvement. The authors are striking examples of engaged researchers with a common commitment to enhancing equity, promoting inclusion and improving the quality of education and outcomes for all. They provide a timely account and critique of three major improvement initiatives in England, Scotland and Wales identifying successes, challenges and lessons learned. They show the importance of research knowledge and the use of data as catalysts for change. Their book reveals that such knowledge needs to be combined with sustained engagement with practitioners to have a positive and sustained impact. Their analyses reveal the difficulties in promoting excellence and equity in highly unequal societies and the need for long term commitment from policy makers (local and national) as well as respect for and involvement with practitioners to support improvement. Achieving sustained change is, as these authors acknowledge, difficult but this volume provides important new insights on the policy making process and enhances our understanding of the potential of research to support work with schools and their staff. Written in clear and accessible language without over simplification it provides an important resource to guide policy makers and practitioners seeking to foster positive change to enhance educational equity and excellence to the benefit all students.

Pamela Sammons, Professor at the Department of Education and Emeritus Fellow Jesus College, University of Oxford, UK

The most pressing challenge facing educators regardless of where we live, is how to influence school education to positively address educational disadvantage at scale, and how to make this last. As this continues to confound, some recent research is making real inroads into how to move ahead – this book presents such scholarship. Bringing a collective wisdom built on years of research assembled through engaged partnerships with teachers, heads and policy shapers on three major change initiatives, the authors offer genuinely exciting insights into the promises and pitfalls of system change. This book is for anyone interested in understanding the realities of change in education systems.

Allan Walker, Joseph Lau Chair Professor of International Educational Leadership, The Education University of Hong Kong

Table of Contents

      Foreword; Preface; 1. Changing education systems; 2. City Challenge in England: drawing the lessons.; 3. Schools Challenge Cymru: a catalyst for change?; 4. Developing a regional self-improving school system: collaboration, competition and transition.; 5. The Scottish Attainment Challenge: addressing poverty related outcomes; 6. New challenges: managing change in an educational market place.; 7. Addressing barriers to change; 8. A research-based approach; References

About the Authors

Mel Ainscow is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Manchester, UK.

Christopher Chapman is Professor of Educational Policy and Practice at the University of Glasgow, UK.

Mark Hadfield is Professor of Education at Cardiff University, UK.

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