Post primary schools in Northern Ireland have been encouraged to deliver the Entitlement Framework by working collaboratively in Area Learning Communities. This paper will explore a case study to attempt to understand one school’s experience of collaboration within an Area Learning Community and specifically how the concept and practice of collaboration has impacted on teachers and led to their resistance to change. What is presented is a brief overview of leadership styles and a number of scholarly approaches to understanding organizational change. It will explore how leaders can plan to overcome resistance to change by the use of change models, leadership styles and cultural adaptation and implement change successfully.
The Area Learning Community
This Area Learning Community is a community of six schools; two Grammar Schools, two High Schools, one Integrated College, one Higher Education College and one Special School. The purpose of the Area Learning Community is to help the mainstream schools meet the Entitlement Framework by 2012/13. The concept of the Entitlement Framework emerged from the work of the Post-Primary Review Group (also known as the Costello Group, 2004). It was developed to give pupils access to learning pathways that would offer a broader and more flexible curriculum so that pupils could choose a blend of courses, including general and applied courses that best meet their needs, abilities, aspirations and interests. It requires all “schools to provide access to a minimum of 24 courses at Key Stage 4 (KS4) and, for schools with sixth forms, a minimum of 27 courses at post-16. At least one-third of the courses must be general (academic) and at least one-third must be applied (vocational or professional/technical) (Bain Report, 2006). The curriculum of Grammar schools tends to be very heavily weighted in favour of general subjects whereas the curriculum of non-Grammar schools offer more applied subjects. Each of the five mainstream schools in the Area Learning Community have amended their timetables to offer a block of subjects to pupils in the partner schools; these are known as ‘collaborative blocks’. These collaborative blocks are written in agreed time slots, matching the periods and times within each school; currently periods 3 and 4 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Pupils from schools within the Area Learning Community travel to partner schools to access courses of their choice. Hence there is shared teaching across the partnership. This also means that each school has pupils from different schools and cultures and in different uniforms studying the same subjects. Pupils can choose a maximum of one subject from the ‘collaborative’ block of another school. Currently there are 80 pupils in Sixth Form (both Lower and Upper) studying subjects across the partnership. Collaboration means that the cultures of the schools have shifted to include mixed ability and religious identity. Teaching methods have been restyled to suit the various needs of pupils from different schools and new relationships fostered between religious identity groups. New procedures are in place for the sharing of personal, pastoral, medical and other relevant information and parents of visiting pupils are contacted at relevant times. Academic reporting dates, reporting formats and exam procedures have been revised. Pupils’ attendance is monitored daily and their progress is checked monthly. School policies and procedures on Child Protection, Attendance, Discipline and Subject Choices have been updated. Teachers meet three to four times a year to share experiences, good practice and training. New arrangements are in place to facilitate meetings between the various subgroups (outlined below) across the partnership and new agreements ensure the effective use of resources and finances required to implement the necessary changes. Collaboration, based on pupil surveys and results, appears to be successful...
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