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How does your school improve its processes?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by LeanProcessManager, Sep 5, 2017.


What approach does your school have to improving processes?

  1. Senior managers tell people what to do

    16 vote(s)
  2. New processes are developed together with, or by the people who have to operate them

    2 vote(s)
  3. Representative working parties are formed

    2 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. LeanProcessManager

    LeanProcessManager New commenter

    I am a management consultant. I help organisations and teams improve their businesses and specialise in early stage growth businesses and turnarounds. It is a fact, little known to many
    [This comment/section/image has been removed for breaching our Community Guidelines/Terms and conditions]
    in this forum, that for some number of years people have studied how to manage organisations better and quite a lot is known about it ;>

    One of my interests is Lean Process Management for the improvement of operational organisations. Lean (simple link) is founded on the idea of "Respect for People" (employees) and is a natural fit for the education industry.
  2. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    I knew I'd been misunderstanding!
    peggylu, sbkrobson and InkyP like this.
  3. LeanProcessManager

    LeanProcessManager New commenter

    Ah. you bit on my bait. Yes, Education is an industry, it follows an industrial model and the lessons learnt from other sectors can be applied to it. Clearly the output of education is not an industrial product, just as a new play is not an industrial product, but theatres and schools alike need cover their costs, employ people and ensure the loos are clean. It is this unglamorous activity that keeps the whole thing going.
  4. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Occasional commenter

    If you want to improve the ways in which schools are managed you really do have your work cut out. The priority is to persuade managers to stop blaming their staff for everything that goes wrong when it is clearly outside of their control. Keeping morale high is surely in everyone's interest.
    bombaysapphire likes this.
  5. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Nope, still don't know what you're on about.

    - other than speaking in riddles to make yourself sound cleverer.

    How about some actual examples?

    This is the main problem in education. Managers assume they are the ultimate source of all knowledge and ability, until things don't go according to their dictats and then they seek to push blame further down the line, or recruit everyone to blame Ofsted or the government.

    Teachers used to be colleagues, at whatever the level they were, then some years ago the concept of us-and-them and line managers who couldn't teach so managed those who do teach became the ultimate goal. Classroom teachers are all too often treated as cannon fodder, to be blamed for everything or harnessed to the latest idea to do the heavy lifting with no input of how to do it or much acknowledgement (and certainly no reward) if it works out.

    Teaching is a divided profession.
    peggylu likes this.
  6. LeanProcessManager

    LeanProcessManager New commenter

    Thanks Incommunicado. You have said what I was thinking but I did not want to ask leading questions.
  7. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    It sounds like everything that is wrong with education now. It used to be about children learning and the OP has not used these words once.
  8. LeanProcessManager

    LeanProcessManager New commenter

    Thank you Mangleworzle and Incommunicado for a clear explanation of the challenges you face.

    Here is a totally fictitious example of a process and how it might be used. Please do not criticise its accuracy! You are a teacher I am not - the process should be written by teachers (getting them to write it is Management's job). I have chosen a very complicated process and it is not where I would start with a new client. The goal would be to capture current practice and then discuss it with all the people involved to see how it could be improved. For example, how much notice do catering need? When do teachers get mock results? We would then run the event and seek to improve the documented process.

    This is called the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle. In schools teachers will often challenge their students "What went well? What will you do better next time?" This is the same process but for team.

    Process Name: Hold a Parents' evening for Year 11

    Goal: To allow parents and students to discuss A level options

    Note: Slightly different this year because of our link with the tech for Apprenticeships

    • All parents have received notification 14 days prior to the event by student post
    • All Year 11 Form Teachers have been notified of date at start of term
    • All Year 11 Subject Teachers have been notified of date at start of term
    • Heads of Subject have reviewed and finalised Mock Results
    • The main hall has been booked with facilities
    • Cleaning have been book to clean after the event
    • ...
    Post Conditions
    • All parents and students know their options including both A levels and Apprenticeships
    • Parents and Students have contact information for the tech
    • ...
    • Headmaster
    • Head of 6th Form
    • Head of Tech college
    • All Year 10 form tutors
    • All Head of Subject
    • Year 10 teachers
    • Parents
    • Students
    • Cleaning
    • Facilities
    • Catering
    Trigger and Frequency
    • Once a year in April
    Main Success Scenario
    1. 17:45 Catering layout tea and biccies
    2. Facilities open the doors at 18:00
    3. Head of 6th Form welcomes all parents as they arrive
    4. 18:30 Headmaster talks for 10 mins
    5. Head of Tech talks for 5 mins
    6. Parents go to sports hall to meet teachers
    7. ...
    8. ...
    9. ...
    10. The goal is complete
  9. LeanProcessManager

    LeanProcessManager New commenter

    That is because education (or "learning" as you put it) is not my professional responsibility. That is what teachers do and most of them are very good at. The role of management is to support teachers so that they educate children inside and outside of lessons. This requires the allocation of scarce resources. It does not matter whether you a school in Africa or England, there will never be enough money to do everything you want to do.

    Lean management techniques aim to improve operational efficiency by 1% here, 2% there, and so on. This can result in great improvements overtime. They were pioneered in the car industry and just compare a car now to one produced 30 years ago. Incremental change has produced dramatic improvements with benefits for both customers and workers.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    re #28
    I love the fact that you have felt compelled to write down something in such over-inflated detail which is in fact arranged and delegated in the space of a few minutes, being only the tiniest facet of what happens in schools.
    I love the fact of your username tied to it. Delusional, bless.
    I expect you'll get really good money for writing things down in detail which bear only minimal resemblance to how things actually work.
  11. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    To a teacher, this will absolutely not resonate. You cannot square your rigid company ethos with education. You'll see a high staff turnover, mind, Could be cost effective.
    Could lead to an even better car for you!
    peggylu, EmanuelShadrack and InkyP like this.
  12. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter


    As I first suspected, you seem more like you're part of the problem than the solution. More micromanagement for trivial arrangements is the last thing that schools need. It's an example of the most pointless aspects of Ofsted, write it down and make no difference whatsoever, just show that it's written down.
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Spot on, you said that well, whereas I was only able to express scorn
    peggylu and drek like this.
  14. Nanook_rubs_it

    Nanook_rubs_it Star commenter

    What lean methodology do you want to apply to what?
  15. LeanProcessManager

    LeanProcessManager New commenter

    I regret you have rather missed the point "bear only minimal resemblance to how things actually work". The goal is write down what actually happens and then improve it.

    Perhaps you think that things are perfect in your school. If not, what is your suggested process for fixing it. This is a serious question. How would you fix things if you had the responsibility of doing so?
  16. LeanProcessManager

    LeanProcessManager New commenter

    You make a very good point. As one of my teaching colleagues says "I didn't become a teacher because I wanted to be accountable". This is does not make them a bad teacher but it does highlight the cultural issue you mention.

    In general I would want a reasonable churn. In a business 3 years is about right but in teaching probably 5 years at a junior grades and 7 at senior grades. I am happy with my second hand Ford Galaxy, funnily enough I became a business consultant because I wanted to make the world a better place. The money is nice but you can't eat it.
  17. LeanProcessManager

    LeanProcessManager New commenter

    Just a quick test for you Mangleworzle,

    • have you ever asked parents and children whether think that your Year 11 parents evening is useful?
  18. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I've lost track of the number of pointless fostering trainings I've been on where the bleeding obvious is repackaged with a shiny new name, teaching people the 'latest' amazing and clever (and better) way of doing things. Only it's almost always what normal parents have done for millennia. And then some wet social worker will say, 'But you learnt something, didn't you?' And if you say, 'Actually no, that person is a charlatan' it doesn't go down very well. It's what happens when people with poor skills and life experience come into contact with good salespeople selling common sense and general knowledge.
  19. LeanProcessManager

    LeanProcessManager New commenter

    The is a short description of one sort of Lean management here
    Thanks doitforfree - in your school do have to fill in "happy sheets" after a training session that give you an opportunity to say whether you felt the training was useful?
  20. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Give me strength. The head of my son's music school has been there for twenty years and is still doing the amazingly good job she always has . His cello teacher has been there for five minutes and is, and always will be, useless. Some people need to change jobs, some don't. There is no time limit that is good or bad. What a lot of nonsense. And where did you get your years? Why three or five? Why not seven and six? Clearly large numbers of people leaving and lots of churn is NOT a good sign, while a small turnover may well be. Or it might be like our local primary where the head got rid of all the good teachers in her first few years, replacing them with adequate teachers who do as they're told and who have stayed a long time. The going and the staying both happened for very bad reasons.
    EmanuelShadrack likes this.

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