Research School Network: Context is king: crowing others to lead, support and influence implementation Reflections on Recommendation 2 of the new School’s Guide to Implementation Guidance Report


Context is king: crowing others to lead, support and influence implementation

Reflections on Recommendation 2 of the new School’s Guide to Implementation Guidance Report

by Great Heights Research School: West Yorkshire
on the

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In a previous blog we reflected on the importance of identifying evidence informed solutions and the identification and communication of the core components of the approach. You can read this blog here.

Here, we reflect on another contextual factor that influences implementation.

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A recurring theme through the new report is recognising that implementation is a social process, a process dependent on people. It is one of the many reasons why implementation in schools is tricky, it involves aligning so many people.

The recommendation asks us to consider the range of people who can both lead and support change. We know the importance of distributed leadership but how might we include the full range of stakeholders? This might include senior leaders, implementation teams, early adopters, student representatives, support staff, governors and I could go on.

The benefits of this approach:

The burden of managing of change can be shared

Group think can be avoided through harnessing different perspectives

It builds sustainability as implementation does not become the job of individuals

Teaching is profession which relies so much on professional generosity and a genuine desire to improve to do the very best for our pupils. It is also a profession where workload is continually cited as an issue so how do bring on board other people to lead and support change? This also points to the importance of systems and structures, another element of recommendation 2, for supporting this.

Some questions for reflection:

Who are the people that can lead and support change?

How do we identify and capitalise on the varied skills and areas of expertise of our stakeholders?

What structures do we use to capture this expertise? e.g. a working party- where does this sit within the context of workload and roles and responsibilities?

How do we identify who may have the capacity and expertise to become an early adopter ensuring distribution across a range of staff?

How do professional development structures support capacity building for support with implementation? e.g. how do we harness the knowledge and skills developed through NPQs and invest this back into school? 

How does governance align with the process of implementation? 

When considering the question of staff retention if we are able to strike the right balance might this provide a way of ensuring staff feel valued and engaged, might it be a way of creating sense of belonging and a vehicle for uniting around shared vision as factors which may make the likelihood of leaving the school or profession less likely. If we are able to empower other people, and provide them with agency, they in turn they are able empower others supporting a positive culture and robustness at all levels.

Of course, our ultimate consideration before moving forward with implementation is the extent to which we have enough skilled and empowered people to support implementation? If the answer is no, then this may point to a fundamental capacity issue and we may have to consider whether the approach is right, but not right now. Or, right now but not at the scale we had initially intended.

Context really is king.

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