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Approaches to scaling innovations across schools: an analysis of key theories and models

Greany, Toby



Michael A. Peters

Richard Heraud


The question of how to scale up successful innovations remains a key challenge for policy and practice in education (Hall, 2013). This article outlines three established ‘schools of thought’ around how to scale up successful innovations. The first approach – eco-systems - is informed by complexity theory and tends to focus on generating and scaling innovations through diverse lateral networks which allow multiple stakeholders to collaborate (OECD, 2015). The second approach – ‘what works?’ – is interested in identifying effective practices through rigorous, scientific research and in replicating these proven practices across multiple schools with high degrees of fidelity. The third approach – Improvement Science - emphasises the importance of practitioner judgement and learning for interpreting and applying evidence across different contexts, but also recognises the importance of school-level cultures and wider factors, and so seeks to generate systematic forms of innovation, evaluation and improvement at scale (Bryk, 2015; Resnick, 2010). This article concludes by discussing the respective contributions of these models and the implications for policy, practice and research.


Greany, T. (2019). Approaches to scaling innovations across schools: an analysis of key theories and models. In R. Heraud, & M. A. Peters (Eds.), Encyclopaedia of Educational Innovation. Springer.

Acceptance Date Apr 6, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 12, 2019
Publication Date 2019
Deposit Date Apr 8, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 13, 2021
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Book Title Encyclopaedia of Educational Innovation
Keywords educational innovation; scaling up; educational improvement; educational change; schools
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