1st Edition

School Staff Culture Knowledge-building, Reflection and Action

By Ruth Ashbee Copyright 2024
    138 Pages 18 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    138 Pages 18 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    A powerful school culture can unite staff in a common vision, shape positive behaviours and attitudes, and create the conditions for the staff body to work as one. As the recruitment and retention crisis deepens, staff culture is more important than ever. This book explores how schools can develop a culture where individuals take pride in their work and actively seek and embrace development and challenge, seeing the big picture of the school and cherishing their role in it.

    Drawing on key ideas from systems theory, psychology, anthropology, business and philosophy, this book explores the key ideas we need in order to understand culture and the concrete steps we can take in order to intentionally develop our staff culture in a positive direction. Each chapter features powerful input to strengthen our understanding alongside probing reflections to guide our own development.

    Written by a leading practitioner and designed to support reflections and planning for concrete actions, this is essential reading for school leaders and head teachers wanting to develop an authentic, powerful and positive school staff culture.

    School Staff Culture benefits from a completely free school development package, with session plans, slides and resources to structure a programme of sessions for leadership and specialist culture teams. The package supports the input, reflection, discussion, evaluation and contextualised application and review that will really bring the ideas in School Staff Culture to life in a school, and can be downloaded from www.routledge.com/9781032121963.

    Introduction  Part 1: What you need to know  1. The way it feels to work here and the way we do things here  2. How culture arises and how we can influence it  3. Why developing good staff culture is hard  Part 2: So what should we do?  4. Knowledge-building  5. The nature of work  6. Shared understanding  7. Interactions  8. Example timeline


    Ruth Ashbee is a teacher, senior leader and blogger, and has worked in state comprehensives since qualifying as a teacher of physics in 2005. Specialising in curriculum, teacher development and school improvement, her interests include philosophy, the professionalisation of teaching and the destruction of ivory towers.

    "Ruth skilfully embraces the complexity of school culture, steadfastly refusing to impose an artificial simplicity. By unpicking the components of culture, she provides school leaders with a way to think more meaningfully about the culture within their schools and how they might influence it."

     Matt Burnage, Assistant Principal, Ark Soane Academy

    "At a time when the teaching profession is facing great uncertainties in recruitment and retention, this book comes as an incredibly powerful guide to developing an effective culture in schools. Filled with valuable insights from the author’s own experience in leadership and heavily informed by evidence, School Staff Culture is a must-read for leaders committed to securing an ethos in schools where everyone can flourish."

    Andrew Percival, Deputy Headteacher, Stanley Road School, Oldham 

    "Schools, as with other institutions, seem to exist in two tracks. The first track is physically what happens day to day - the lessons that have been taught, the homeworks that have been set, the conversations in the playground and the like. These items are observable and easily understood. We can watch our colleagues doing them, give feedback and learn how to do them better ourselves. The second track is harder to spot: it's a track that underpins all of these activities and interactions, it determines why, beyond its observable features, the same activity might work in one scenario but not in another. This track is often called "culture", and its quality can dictate a school's path to success or ruin. Despite culture's importance, observing, defining and improving it is an extremely tricky task. As with her earlier works on curriculum, in this book Ashbee continues to demystify and deconstruct weighty and challenging ideas, this time focusing on the elusive "culture." School Staff Culture is insightful, rigorous and fascinating, but perhaps more importantly it's useful, and a must-read for any teacher or leader interested in improving their school's culture."

     Adam Boxer