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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Christine Merrell

Tymms, P., Merrell, C., Heron, T., Jones, P., Albone, S. & Henderson, B. (2008). The Importance of Districts. School Effectiveness and School Improvement: An International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice 19(3): 261-274.

Author(s) from Durham


Effectiveness studies have largely concentrated on the school as the unit of analysis, although an increasing number have directed their attention to the teacher as the main unit of interest. But policy is often directed through organisations at the district level or what is sometimes known as the Education Authority (EA). Few studies have explored their importance, but the seminal study by Willms (1987) stands out. This paper reports an analysis of 7 large national databases from England using 3-level multilevel models with pupils nested within primary schools that are in turn nested within districts. All tell the same story: The EA attended by pupils has almost no relevance to their progress.