Perhaps the most common analogy used in recent years to describe school improvement is the marginal gains approach employed by Dave Brailsford to transform British cycling. Marginal gains works on the premise that considerable rises in overall performance levels can be achieved by aggregating multiple smaller improvements. It relies heavily on sophisticated data systems to identity what are often microscopic areas for development, and then uses well-informed coaches to work with individuals on realising these tweaks.
The analogy proved popular because of the perceived similarities between sport and education – both domains consist of learners striving to maximize performance working within complex environments increasingly driven by data to set and measure achievement. This synergy, coupled with the success of British riders in Team Sky and at the London Olympics, conspired to make marginal gains a useful metaphor for school leaders.
I wonder, however, whether other, a different sporting comparison might…
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