Although the factors that make a school effective are well established, understandings of the process of managing change in order to improve effectiveness are not so well defined. While the change management perspective on school improvement is increasingly evident in the literature, research into the change process grounded in the experiences of those managing change are relatively few in number. The findings reported here are from a larger project which has looked at the emerging themes in the process of school-based change implemented to enhance pupil achievement in a group of schools in South Wales. The findings illuminate the nature of the school improvement ‘journey’ from the practitioner's perspective and indicate pre-acceleration, acceleration and post-acceleration stages in the changes associated with improvement. The findings also illustrate the role that professional development plays during that journey and the way that role is varied and adapted during the different stages.
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