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School leadership research

Gathering global experience and sharing our knowledge to improve quality and inclusivity of education for all

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Change agents: emerging evidence on middle-tier instructional leadership

Education policymakers around the world have long shared a key priority: achieving high-quality teaching and learning at scale. This requires strong delivery systems at every level. While there is significant evidence on the important roles played by teachers and leaders, comparatively little attention has been paid to the role – and potential – of middle-tier professionals such as supervisors, instructional coaches and mentors at the regional, district and sub-district level. These actors are key intermediaries in education systems, but their role in teaching and learning improvement has often been overlooked in research and policy debates. In our latest report, together with IIEP-UNESCO and the Education Commission, we highlight the potential of these middle-tier actors as a critical part of the ‘machine’ for quality teaching and learning at scale.

Change agents: case studies on middle-tier instructional leadership

A growing concern for education policymakers is how to improve teaching and learning quality at scale, and how to strengthen delivery systems to achieve this. IIEP-UNESCO and Education Development Trust see the ‘middle tier’ of education systems as a potential solution to this challenge. In a new research collaboration, we are investigating the potential of middle tier professionals – district supervisors, pedagogical coaches and teacher mentors – to act as catalysts for change in local school reforms. This is a neglected area of research and the new work will look at six case studies of effective or promising practice from around the world, in which the middle tier is playing a key role in scaling effective teaching and learning reforms.