Southampton Education School

Research Group: School Improvement and Effectiveness

Research in the area of School Improvement and Effectiveness uses an approach that focuses on developing structures to encourage critical reflection within (and of) schools while involving the wider community of stakeholders in understanding the impact of policy on quality of learning and student / organisational welfare.

Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview

Research is led by Professor Anthony Kelly  As a theoretician Professor Kelly specialises in developing concepts from outside education - for example, from the commercial sector - for use in schools and colleges, and analysing policy and governance in relation to schooling, particularly school choice as it affects individual and societal well-being. His approach tends towards mixing quantitative and qualitative methodologies; for example, developing and adapting game theoretic models for better understanding decision-making in schools. He is the author of numerous books, research reports and papers in academic journals, and is an established figure internationally in the field of school improvement and effectiveness.

Currently an ESRC / DTI Knowledge Transfer Partnership project is investigating the use of performance data for school improvement including how schools might better use alternative metrics in the future. Research students in this field are investigating:

  • primary science education policy in Greece
  • using pupil attainment data for whole-school improvement
  • school improvement in Nigeria
  • managing Preparatory schools
  • educational attainment among Bangladeshi children
  • beginning headship and early years in post
  • leadership training in the British army
  • preparing students for ethical practice in healthcare management
  • building effective teams for school improvement in Ghana.

The research area comes under the Centre for Leadership, School Improvement and Effectiveness (LSIE).


Selected publications associated with this group from the University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints):


Downey, Chris and Williams, Clare (2010) Family SEAL – a home-school collaborative programme focusing on the development of children’s social and emotional skills. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 3, (1), 30-41. (doi:10.1080/1754730X.2010.9715672).
Kelly, Anthony (2009) Juxtaposing some contradictory findings from international research on school choice. Magis International Journal of Research in Education, 2, (3), 261-274.


Kelly, Anthony (2007) School choice and student well-being: opportunity and capability in education, London, UK, Palgrave Macmillan, 272pp.
Kelly, Anthony (2004) The intellectual capital of schools: lessons from the commercial sector, Dordrecht, Holland, Kluwer Academic Press, 161pp.
Kelly, Anthony (2003) Decision making using game theory: an introduction for managers, Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 204pp.
Kelly, Anthony (2001) Benchmarking for school improvement, London, UK, Routledge Falmer, 170pp.

Book Section

Kelly, Anthony (2008) School effectiveness. In, McCulloch, Gary and Crook, David (eds.) The Routledge International Encyclopedia of Education. London, UK, Routledge.

Conference or Workshop Item

Kelly, Anthony and Downey, Chris (2010) Data-culture:investigating teachers' use of and attitudes towards attainment and progress data in English secondary schools. In, 23rd International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 05 - 08 Jan 2010.
Downey, Chris and Kelly, Anthony (2010) Investigating patterns of non-participation in post-compulsory education: a study of learner disengagement at ages 16-18 in one English Local Authority. In, 23rd International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 05 - 08 Jan 2010.
Downey, Chris, Kelly, Anthony and Brown, Alice (2008) Evaluating a programme to develop social and emotional skills in primary school students. In, ICSEI 2008: International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Auckland, New Zealand, 06 - 09 Jan 2008. 13pp.
Downey, Christopher and Kelly, Anthony (2007) Data streams currently used in UK schools to inform accountability exercises. In, International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement: 20th Annual World ICSEI Congress (ICSEI 07), Portoroz, Slovenia, 03 - 06 Jan 2007.
Kelly, Anthony (2006) Globalisation and education: developing conflicts. In, European Conference on Educational Research (ECER 2006), Geneva, Switzerland, 13 - 15 Sep 2006.
Kelly, Anthony (2005) Building a theory of intellectual capital for schools. In, 2005 European Conference on Educational Research (ECER 2005), Dublin, Republic of Ireland, 07 - 10 Sep 2005.


Kelly, Anthony, Downey, Christopher and Rietdijk, Willeke (2010) Data dictatorship and data democracy: understanding professional attitudes to the use of pupil performance data in schools. Reading, Borough of, GB, CfBT Education Trust


Members of staff associated with this group:

Research projects

Research projects associated with this group: