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StIMS Support Module - Update December 2008

For some time I have been living in hope that the StIMS Support Module would be developed and deployed by the Department ready for schools sometime in Term 1 2009.


I have been working with two key senior officers, 'behind the scenes' to that end for the past several months.


I have just discovered that it is not going to happen... for the fourth year in a row!! I understand that funding has not been provided despite the best efforts of those senior officers
 

A key strategic tool

Just as the Support Planner is a key strategic tool for the many of the schools that use it, so the Module could be a key strategic tool for schools, Learning Services and the Department as a whole.
 

The Module would add a key additional capacity at school level that would benefit every student with significant needs, viz,

  • immediate access to critical knowledge of the student on/before arrival in the school (high needs students are often highly mobile):
    • identified needs and conditions,
    • what the priorities might be
    • what has worked, and what didn't
    • what's be tried... and how it went ...
    • etc
       

And there will be significant gains at the Departmental level when the Module is developed and deployed.:

  • direct access for the Department to whole new sets of data relating to a range of factors that impact school performance
  • the development of a consistent, higher level, practical discourse around all supporting students across all schools and Learning Services
  • the development and deployment of associated in-school practices
    • similar to, and consistent with, what PBS has done for many schools
    • but probably more effective and sustainable given the mediation of the Module itself ...
    • ...
  • the development and deployment of associated Learning Services practices, e.g.,
    • the capacity to manage support services in a more dynamic, effective and sustainable way
    • much greater capacity to provide for those students for whom schools have been unable to make adequate provision (eg, those in the 2009 Project on re engagement) ...

Systems thinking

Appreciating the above points requires the application of systems thinking.  Many of the above points illustrate a fundamental principle of systems thinking , viz,
 

  • The cost of any system 'failure' tends to move towards those who can least afford it (in this case, the students with the greatest need and those who work with them)
     

I remain very keen to help in any way possible... even as a volunteer, if necessary. There is a lot at stake in this matter.

The Department's understanding

I know that some senior officers understand the contribution that the Support Planner makes in many of the schools that use it.

I suspect that few senior officers understand the real potential of the Support Module to

  • reduce the likelihood of high needs students 'falling through the cracks'
  • coordinate and improve the provision of learning services for students with high needs for support
  • support collaboration between all involved: the schools, families, learning services, other agencies...
  • inform policy and planning (at all levels) in ways that ensure improvements at all levels of the system
  • increase the capacity of schools to provide well for almost all students.
     

It would be a mistake to see the Module as a just another device for use in individual schools (that's what the Planner is in its present form).

As a system wide tool, the Module should be properly understood as a key strategic device that genuinely

  • places students at the centre
  • informs all those involved
  • maximises the contribution of those involved
  • underpins effective communication, action and collaboration
     

I do not expect that all senior Departmental officers have this kind of understanding... it requires knowledge, reflection and some experience fo what schools are doing with the Planner and some use of systems thinking.

 

And the Planner/Support Module is based on a different paradigm involving sense-making and the ongoing collaborative construction of knowledge, arrangements and actions. It is very different from the paradigm applying to the overall operation and development of the Department. Certainly not something that can be managed as a top down approach.
 

 

 

 

Ivan Webb Pty Ltd 2001 onwards