Narrowing the gap: reducing within-school variation in pupil outcomes

by Members of NCSL’s Leadership Network


This report from the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) provides case studies from a range of school leaders who worked on reducing variation in their school as members of the NCSL Leadership Network. The case studies describe the actions taken, the impact of those actions and the lessons learnt.

One of the strengths of the case studies is the way in which they show the benefits of productive teacher discussion across learning areas and levels, so that good practice in one area can be spread around to other areas. There are also models of strong in-school professional learning communities.

The case studies could provide schools with a basis for facilitating workshops to raise the issues with staff. This would be followed up with diagnostic work to indicate the specific concerns facing individual schools.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this article:

  • Make use of the ‘audit tools’ on page 40 (or 41) of the article to analyse the situation in your school. These could be the basis for a leadership team meeting, or a whole staff meeting. From them, develop some priorities for action over the next year.
  • What kinds of data would you need to collect in order to evaluate the success of implementing your approach? In what ways would qualitative data, such as narratives of teacher and or student experiences be useful to an evaluation?


Narrowing the gap: Reducing within-school variation in pupil outcomes. (2006). A research report from the National College of School Leadership. Nottingham. UK.

Read online (PDF)

Tags: Assessment and data

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