Literature review: trust and school improvement

A culture of trust enhances performance

In this environmental scan of research and policy literature, Dr Jessica Harris, Professor Brian Caldwell and Fiona Longmuir consider various definitions of trust as they seek to address and inform the hypothesis that ‘a culture of trust enhances performance’ in schools.

The discussion draws on the work of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership in school leadership and research by Caldwell and Harris (2008) to consider ways in which trust is linked to performance in schools and organisations. It explores the concept of trust as a form of capital available to schools, and highlights how successful school leaders work to align trust, strategy and passion in implementing effective change.

At the heart of the review is the relationship between trust and school improvement. An adapted model of the elements of a culture of trust developed by Bryk and Schneider in their influential study of trust in school reform in Chicago is used to frame this aspect of the review. Harris, Caldwell and Longmuir identify four essential categories of relationships that enable schools to be described as having a culture of trust. The review concludes with a discussion of the relationship between trust and school governance.

Download the full report by Dr Jessica Harris, Professor Brian Caldwell & Fiona Longmuir

trust and school improvement


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