20 February 2019

Leadership and Student Wellbeing

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Paul Parham, Maths Teacher, describes his ITL research examining the association between the leadership/teaching style of mathematics teachers and student performance, motivation, and wellbeing.

"Previous research in industry (with employees) and Higher Education (with students) has shown a very strong correlation between leadership and these elements; in particular, an inclusive style of leadership, with attributes such as individualised consideration, idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and empathy, has been shown in these settings to have a very positive influence on wellbeing. However, similar research has not been conducted with students in the secondary school environment and as such, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first academically-rigorous quantitative study to investigate this association in this setting. The project is being undertaken in conjunction with Buckinghamshire New University and ethics approval has now been obtained. Opt-out letters have now been sent to the parents/guardians of all students at Sevenoaks, and once this has been completed over half-term, data collection will begin in the second half of Lent Term across all year groups. This will be in the form of a previously-validated anonymous online survey instrument that all non-opt-out students will complete and should take no longer than 20/25 minutes. Stratified statistical analysis of the data will then help us examine whether teaching style affects student wellbeing in Maths, and we will be able to also examine the strength of any associations found according to demographic variables such as student age and gender, with the research ultimately resulting in submission of the findings to a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, it is hoped that the project will not only lead to insights into how mathematics teaching methods at Sevenoaks may be developed to further improve student performance and wellbeing, but will also provide a template for undertaking statistically rigorous quantitative studies at Sevenoaks across the full range of subjects offered.”

Further Reading:

Anderson, D. L and Graham, A.P. (2016) Improving student wellbeing: having a say at school. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 27 (3): 348-366. Accessible online

Moss, G., Sims, C., McDuff, N., and Tatam, J. (2018) The impact of academic leadership behaviours on BME student attainment. Leadership Insights, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. Available online

Public Health England (2014) The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment. Available online 

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