A self-improving system: the place for trust.

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In the A self-improving school system blog you were able to read a summary of David Hargreaves influential 2012 article, the effects of which are to be seen in the development of federations, teaching school alliances and multi-academy trusts. These and other forms of partnership aspire to the benefits of a sustainable model of improvement based in the values of deep partnership.

The self-improving school system is driven by excellence in leadership. That leadership must be capable of fostering trust and competence within the school and extending that of meaningful and lasting relationships between schools. Hargreaves references McEvily and Zaheer's (2004) distinction that school leaders are architects of trust. He notes that As people become more comfortable with talking about and auditing trust, the easier it becomes for school leaders to monitor it as a measure of the growth of social capital (p15).

The article provides a trust audit with response statements such as:

The head takes a personal interest in me and my welfare.

The staff here are like a family and we value and support one another.

The teachers are open and honest with students.

Trust is the foundation of all effective relationships. How are you nurturing that in school and between your partner schools? How do you know it's working? The trust audit provided in the Hargreaves article could provide an illuminating indication but it comes with a health warning. When is the right time to do the audit and how should it be carried out? It could be argued that schools least in need of such an audit are the most likely to conduct it, more perhaps as a self-confirming exercise than a diagnostic tool. In a recent NPQSL cohort a co-facilitator introduced the concept of trust in leadership and even in a cohort drawn from the same outstanding school there was hot debate about what the word meant and how it applied to effective leadership. One could imagine the issues that it might raise in a school where trust is a commodity in short supply.

Interestingly the September 2015 School Inspection Framework employs the word on twenty-one occasions but in inference to an academy trust rather than in the context of relationships or leadership. There are no references to social capital

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