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Creating and Sustaining Secondary Schools’ Success: Sandfields, Cwmtawe, and the Neath-Port Talbot Local Authority’s High Reliability Schools Reform


by Sam Stringfield, David Reynolds & Eugene Schaffer — 2016

This article presents data from a 15-year, mixed-methods school improvement effort. The High Reliability Schools (HRS) reform made use of previous research on school effects and on High Reliability Organizations (HROs). HROs are organizations in various parts of our cultures that are required to operate successfully “the first time, every time.” This is a requirement increasingly placed on our schools. The HRS reform was conducted in all 11 secondary schools in one Welsh (U.K.) Local Authority (LA). Data are provided on the Neath-Port Talbot (NPT) district along with case studies of two of NPT schools. Pre-reform data indicated that students in the LA were performing well below Welsh averages. Over a four-year intervention, NPT’s students made gains that were nearly double the national average. Achievement data from five and 11 years post-intervention indicate that the relatively high-poverty schools in the LA have continued to rise to well above the national averages. Qualitative observations and interviews with the schools’ and LA’s leadership and student groups, combined with analyses of recent school inspectors’ reports, indicate that schools are continuing to use HRS principles and are continuing their refinement of them in context. Implications for future school reforms and research are presented.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 13, 2016, p. 1-20
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 20559, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 11:44:38 AM

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About the Author
  • Sam Stringfield
    University of Cincinnati
    E-mail Author
    SAM STRINGFIELD, PhD, is a professor in the Education Studies and Educational Leadership programs in the University of Cincinnati’s School of Education. As editor of the Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk (JESPAR) and the author of over 170 articles and books, Stringfield researches methods for improving the educations of societies’ less fortunate youths. He is co-author of three chapters of the forthcoming International Handbook of Educational Effectiveness, and several articles on the application of High Reliability Organization processes in the context of schools and school systems.
  • David Reynolds
    University of Southampton
    E-mail Author
    DAVID REYNOLDS, PhD, is the author of 20 books and over 200 articles focused on improving educational effectiveness. With over two decades’ work in British educational policy circles, Reynolds strives to align educational research, policy, and practice. Reynolds is co-editor of the forthcoming International Handbook of Educational Effectiveness.
  • Eugene Schaffer
    University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    E-mail Author
    EUGENE SCHAFFER, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Education at the University of Maryland—Baltimore County. Schaffer has spent three decades studying and publishing in the areas of teacher, school, and system effects in education. He is the author of numerous articles on the role of teachers in more and less effective schools and on challenges associated with school reform.
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