University of Sussex
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The impact of performance management policy on standards in schools

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posted on 2023-06-08, 16:15 authored by Haydn Evans
Following the introduction of Performance Management in schools in 2000, the rate of increase in attainment from 2001-2005, as measured by the GCSE 5A*-C percentage pass rate, is noticeably higher than in the five years prior to its introduction. The aim of this research is to consider the impact of the national policy for Performance Management (PM) of teachers on standards of attainment in secondary schools. The thesis attempts to locate and explain a potential causal link between PM and the rate of increase in attainment at GCSE. It does this from within a Transcendental Realist philosophical framework incorporating a Critical Realist sociological perspective. An extensive literature survey on both Performance Management and its precursor, Appraisal, revealed a potential for research on the link between PM and standards of attainment in schools. In considering prospective strategies for such a study, a comprehensive range of methodologies and research methods are explored and the Critical Realist perspective using a case study design was considered to be a reasonable approach in that it appeared not to have some of the weaknesses exhibited by some of the other methodologies reviewed. The Case Study was completed through a series of forty four structured interviews in schools with ‘Challenging Circumstances’ (an Ofsted indicator of the demographics of a school) and with two policymakers from the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE). The structured interviews based upon an analysis of PM national policy revealed a positive response to the effect of PM on standards of attainment. This was also coherent with a wider literature survey of the effects of the various PM policy dimensions at one level and a conceptual abstraction of the policy at another. However, PM policy was introduced as part of the Standards Framework (DfEE 1998), which provided for the introduction of a plethora of policies aimed at raising standards. These, together with a number of other contextual factors, were considered to add to the complexity of the final causal analysis. It is argued that Critical Realism has the potential to provide a useful and penetrative starting point in the analysis of such complicated contexts.


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  • Sociology and Criminology Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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