inSchool Solutions

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


Site Index

Other topics

Action Plan
Essential Knowledge
Quick Start
Policy Trap
Discussion Points



More on this topic

Implementing Quality
Using Data
Design Do & Improve (PDSA)

Want to make a quick start? Some of the following notions are simple but profound and contrary to the 'dominant logic' and so they are not necessarily easy to communicate - But when one gets through ... the results can be spectacular, especially in the two key outcomes: success and well-being. Try making these you priority for the people you support:
1. Make it easier for people to do well. People want to, it is cost effective, it releases resources for use elsewhere... 

At RPS, a school of 670 children with the highest pupil:teacher ratio in the state, we could still deploy 97% of all teacher hours to working directly with children. As Principal I taught 0.4 = 2 days per week.


Making it easier to do well is a powerful message that it is important to do well !!!  Start by getting people to think about 

  • How they could make it easier for the next person, whoever they are
  • How they could work with others to make it easier for themselves
    and then let them do it !!!


Get 'managers' to work on the system with the help of the people in the system Jointly focus on the purposes and the process to achieve them. Make it easier for everyone to do well, viz, allow, support and encourage 

  • Teachers to work on their classes with the help of the students & families & colleagues to make it easier for all to do well;
  • Principals to work on their schools with the help of the staff, students and communities to make it easier for everyone to do well.....


The fundamental principle is to work WITH people, not ON people!   cf. Testing is an attempt to work on the teachers not the system. If your standardised testing is like ours it usually labels the teachers and schools and fails to give them anything of value, certainly not anything that they could use.


3. Work on the basis of data - measure what is happening.  DO NOT rely on 'phog': perception, hearsay, opinion or guesswork. 
4. Change as little as possible and improve as much as possible. This is the most difficult notion to communicate. The world thinks you can't have improvement without change - they are wrong! Reducing variation (Deming) includes reducing change and results in better outcomes and less less cost which releases valuable resources which can then be used ... and so on.

Note: people often object that the system isn't working and then demand changes. Imagine the same approach with someone who was having difficulty walking - the legs aren't working well so we'll cut them off and provide different legs. 

It can be useful to step back and ask the question: 
    "If it was working properly, would it be OK?"
  and then 

    "In what way isn't it working well?"  

People usually assume that the system, as it is, is about as good as can be expected - everyone is working really hard...  To help people get insights into what might be possible it can be useful to ask another question: "Does everything get done on time, around here?"   and  " Would it make much difference if things happened on time? " This is an excellent starting point for improvement without change. It easy, understandable, only requires cooperation (team work) so is fun (except for the most discouraged people)  and results in a lot of quick wins and everyone can contribute.       

5. Mine the counter measures for learning and resources. The plea is always for more resources: "To improve we need more resources". My response is that this claim would only be true if everything was working perfectly. Nothing is perfect therefore improvement is always possible. We need to find those points where improvement will make things easier so that we can release the resources that are currently being used. 


Counter measures are rework (which means resources were wasted at some point) disguised as good things to do. Schools are full of rework: 
        - things have been done and are being done again and 
        - things that have been attempted unsuccessfully before and  are being redone.


We might need to contain a problem temporarily - that's urgent. But it is important to learn from the problems we encounter and work to eliminate them (or at least reduce their incidence) by preventing  their occurrence - need for counter measures. As one of the teachers at RPS said to me (somewhat mystified) a couple of years after we got into quality "We don't seem to have many of the problems we used to have." 

Note. Before I understood about rework I was proud of my capacity to solve problems, ie, to implement counter measures. I was highly regarded for my 'fire fighting capacity'. Now that I understand about rework it is embarrassing to recall those earlier times.  


    Ivan Webb

--> Moving On