Stoll and Fink Analysis

On Wednesday I attended a training session which looked at among other things the characteristics of a successful subject area.

One of the things that was presented was Stoll and Fink analysis; this was originally written for whole school improvement but the trainer put forward the idea that this can also be used on a department and subject level.

The idea is that the department can fit into one of the five boxes.


  • Boosts student progress and achievement.
  • People work together and respond to change.
  • People know where they are going and have the will and the skill to get there.

Cruising Subject Area

  • Appear to have many of the qualities of an effective subject area.
  • Pupils achieve despite the teaching.
  • The people are responding well to change.

Strolling Subject Area

  • Neither particularly effective or ineffective.
  • Move at an adequate pace to cope with change.
  • Have ill-defined aims.
  • Conflict sometimes inhibits progress.

Struggling Subject Area

  • Ineffective and know it.
  • Expend energy trying to improve but results in “thrashing about”
  • They are willing to try anything and will ultimately succeed.

Sinking Subject Area

  • Staff are isolated.
  • There is an unwillingness to change either through ignorance or apathy.
  • There is a blame culture.
  • Student achievement is poor and failing.

I think that this is a useful tool to think about where you are and where you are going. I am planning on getting the book that this came from out of the library.Changing Our Schools: Linking School Effectiveness and School Improvement (Changing Education).

Categories: Leadership