inSchool Solutions

 School Improvement:  Capabilities
Working Together Easier First Implementation Action Plan Imperatives About RPS


Site Index

Other topics

Implementing Quality
Using Data
Design Do & Improve (PDSA)



More on this topic


Capabilities are not determined solely by a person's knowledge and skills although, of course, these are very important:




The context in which a person acts provides a significant part of the basis of their capabilities.  


The context includes culture, systems (and resources). We tend to be more conscious of the role of resources and underestimate the significance of systems and culture. Material resources are almost never the constraint on a system.


For people acting in a system such as a school the system represents a major contextual element.  It is estimated that ~90% of the outcomes are determined by the system (and culture) of any organization.


The culture in which a person functions also has a huge impact on what they do and how well they do it. Culture includes attitudes: values, purposes and thus acceptable ways of acting. This has critical implications for school improvement, including professional development. Many schools assume that staff development focusing on skills is critical. This may be true but only if the staff development impacts on the operation of the school. 


World-wide billions of dollars are wasted on professional development programs because the system remains the same and thus the staff & students are not able integrate their new knowledge and skills into the school & classroom systems in which they are operating.


For new knowledge and skills to be meaningful and return much of their potential value it is necessary to achieve matching developments in the areas of systems and culture.


Improving systems is at the core of ensuring achieving real and last development, success and well-being:

  • action is meaningful in systems (no person or action is an island)
  • knowledge and skills are the basis of successful actions
  • culture involves aspects of agreement and expectation especially in relation to actions.


Specifically in order to improve the contributions of the people in the school (or classroom) it is necessary to know where the need lies. In general terms there are four elements that contribute to the capabilities that each person brings to their endeavours & enterprise, viz,


It is strategic to apply one's efforts where they will achieve the greatest return. At any point in time the constraint on people's capabilities is likely to be in one of the four above areas.