Thursday 4 April 2013

In an earlier post, I vented a bit about the relevance of performance related pay for teachers. Well, I recently watched a short (10:48) RSA Animate video based on a lecture by Dan Pink, in which he explores how people are motivated. He suggests, and he is supported by reams of research over the last 30 years, that money only motivates where the task is a simple one requiring little mental effort - not teaching then!

However, what really does motivate are three things: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

So how do we become motivated? Pink outlines three critical ideas:
  1. Autonomy
    Controlling management approaches assume people are passive and inert and require prodding - the Victorian idea of Theory X!.  Autonomy approaches assume people are active, looking for interesting work and curious and self-engaging.  Autonomous motivation has proven to promote greater conceptual understanding, result in better grades, enhance persistence at school and in sporting activities, generate higher productivity, less burnout, and greater levels of psychological well-being.
  2. Mastery
    Mastery is the desire to get better at something that matters - and it must matter to the individual. First, mastery is a mindset, in that we either believe we can get better or we don’t. Second, mastery is a pain, in that it involves not only working harder but working longer at the same thing. Finally, mastery is an asymptote, or a straight line that you may come close to but never reach. Other work has suggested that we can only really get close to mastery after 10,000 hours of effort/practice.
  3. Purpose
    Purpose provides a context for autonomy and mastery.  Purpose is that inner drive, sometimes facilitated by a great leader, to do something that actually matters - educating children rather than ripping off bank customers.
 I wonder if Mr Gove has seen this, or perhaps he thinks that teaching is a mindless repetitive job!?

Sunday 3 March 2013

Leadership, Change Management and Organisational Development

I have just spent a few hours at the NGA Regional Conference listening inter alia to Les Walton speaking to the title "Governance Effectiveness - A Model for Development". In setting up the need for development, he outlined some of the Political, Economic, Social, Technical, Legal and Environmental factors driving increasing accountability in governing bodies. Ofsted are already putting more focus on the adequacy of governance. Like it or not, the world is changing around us and the pace of change is not slowing down.
He suggested that, in exploring how to develop leadership and governance in schools, we need to pay attention to four areas:
  1. Policy Development
  2. Organisational Effectiveness
  3. Leadership climate and competence
  4. Quality standards and wider management context.
Now is not the placed to go into those four areas in detail, mostly because what I really want to talk about is how these issues form the core of my 'day job' in which I help leaders, managers and organisations meet the challenge of major change.
The surprise is that I have NEVER heard any school leader or governor talk in terms of change management or organisational development. Does the NCSL offer courses in change management? Do governor development programmes emphasise the skills needed to ensure effective and lasting organisational development?
Organisational development is essentially a humanistic 'discipline' about the systematic improvement of an organisation using the resources available from stakeholders; it's about building the capability of an organisation to deal effectively with its changing environment; it is an ongoing, systematic process of implementing effective organizational change. Exactly what we need in the current climate!
So, how often has your governing body or head discussed the implications of John Kotter's 8-Steps, or Chris Argyris' ideas or those of Peter Senge? OD and Change Management are highly skilled specialist disciplines and unlikely to be available in your average school. Can your LA help?
The very essence of good leadership is the development of the organisation to meet current and future contexts, so my challenge to you is to think about how you bring the appropriate skills to bear on your fundamental role.

Thursday 28 February 2013

Pay for performance

With our beloved Mr Gove releasing headteachers to decide on teachers' pay, I was reminded of an excellent article by Simon Caulkin exploring the concept of performance related pay. This has now been published  in Professional Manager.

Somehow my brain then went off on a tangent and this helped me recognise that, whatever I might think of PRP (and, for the record, I think it utterly inappropriate for the teaching profession, if not all jobs) most of the talk about PRP seems to centre on punishing the under-performers not rewarding the over-performers!

PRP is a relic of the Victorian Industrial Age - as is our current education system - when the bosses invented piece-work and paid according to the work output. Motivation theory suggests that it MIGHT work when the subject is seriously economically deprived, but even then the more vocational an activity the less effective that extrinsic reward mechanisms become. I personally still hold the scars from a new MD/FD who took away our longed-for 3 month sabbatical every 5 years (which had all sorts of beneficial knock-ons, not least the opportunity for someone to 'act up') and replaced it by a bonus payment that on paper was worth more than the sabbatical. I did not want the pay, I earned a lot more than I could spend anyway and really wanted the sabbatical that I had been looking forward to for over 4 years.

I also have a view (unsupported by any explicit evidence but backed by 30-odd years in the 'people business') that the 'type of person', and they do still exist, who is seriously motivated by money is unlikely to be the type of person who would make a good teacher.I have yet to hear a teacher say "If only I was paid £1000 more every year, I would work so much harder..."

And if we are to 'incentivise' teachers how do we deal with other school staff who are also important?

It is clear that we WILL have to deal with this situation where the head is granted more freedom on teachers' pay - for which read 'governing body has more freedom, because it is us governors who agree the Pay Policy - so I think it is time to engage with the dialogue rather than prolong the debate. What suggestions can you make for handling this effectively?

Thursday 31 January 2013

Is teaching a profession?

Now, I am not one for attacking teachers, they generally do a brilliant job often in trying circumstances. I for one would not relish the prospect of a classfull of sometimes disruptive, sometimes challenging, sometimes 'lost' pupils, with no escape route for when I have had enough.

This blog on the Sutton Trust's website however, challenges the suggestion that teaching is a profession.

I would want to differentiate between whether teaching is a profession and whether (all) teachers are professionals. Let's be honest, in some schools we can find those who do the minimum and 'deserve' to be performance managed (or whatever the latest vogue term is for saying "you are not performing to the required standard, either get with the programme or get out"), just as we find exemplars.

Thursday 10 January 2013

What would the pupils think?

We end every meeting with the question "How has our time today contributed to improving learning outcomes for pupils?" The discipline of addressing this questions flows through to both agenda generation and our work in the meetings and really focusses the mind.
I commented at the end of yesterday's Raising Attainment Working Group that, apart from all the rational stuff about curriculum and teaching approaches etc, it just felt like one of the most worthwhile meetings I had attended for some time.
This observation got me thinking about two issues - firstly the place of feeling in modern-day education (as a people-developer and leadership coach I subscribe to the view that the Western approach to business misses a trick by being too rational) but much more importantly "I wonder what our pupils would have made of that meeting?" After all, it is ultimately for their benefit that we spend all this tine in meetings and it would be really interesting to find a way for our primary pupils to express an opinion on how they thought we were helping.
I would be really interested in hearing from anyone who has sought the views of their pupils on the usefulness of GBs etc.

Thursday 27 December 2012

New Head, new skills?

So, the Head who so skillfully steered us out of Special Measures has found another job in pastures new - good for him!

This leaves us recruiting our 2nd Head in 18 months and I am wondering about the skill set needed for the new postholder. The IEB recruited the old one before I joined and clearly did an excellent job, now we are out of Special Measures I hope that we are able to give thought to how different the skills needed for a progression from Special Measures to Satisfactory are from those required to go from Satisfactory to Good and even Outstanding.

In my 'day job' of developing leaders, we differentiate between the skills needed for Transformation (which I would equate with getting a school out of Special Measures) and those for Continuous Improvement (which might more closely approximate the slow but steady slog of climbing the Ofsted ladder). All that stuff about situational leadership starts to play out for real when we have an opportunity to match our new recruit to the (slightly less urgent) needs of the situation and the (improving but not yet complete) maturity of the followers.

Let me suggest one big difference that I sense is appropriate - management (c.f. Leadership) ability. When a school is in Special Measures, the focus is almost exclusively on raising attainment and indeed IEBs are instructed that this is to be their primary focus. Quite rightly, some of the more mundane aspects of management are allowed to go by the wayside in the urge to get the education of the pupils back on track. However, things like Health & Safety, Policies & Procedures, SEN Provision (to name just three in which I am particularly interested) do need some detailed attention at some stage. One lesson that SM offers is which of these 'management' topics are really important and which ones can be left to dry out in the cold wind of school improvement - a lesson to be carefully learned.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Policies, policies, policies - and some that are not!

As part of our ongoing journey to convince our Ofsted Inspector that we are doing well enough to be released from Special Measures, we have been looking at every policy the school has/needs - after all, governance is about much more than 'simply' improving performance and anyway these Policies should be such as to aid, in some way, the performance of the school.

 First move - ask our LA for a comprehensive list of those policies that we are required to have. We got a useful, and somewhat daunting, list of 36 documents they think we must have.  Well, here's the DfE list - 23 items and by their own admission it might be out of date and only covers Statutory Policies and not any 'required' by statutory, or indeed any other, guidance.

Why does a Maintained School need:
  • a Pay Policy when our pay rates and terms & conditions of employment are determined nationally? 
  • an Admissions Policy when admissions are determined by the Local Authority? 
  • ...and a host of other bits of paper that could be generalised by the LA who control such maintained schools and are ultimately responsible for many aspects of their operation? 
It seems to me that hours must be wasted writing/re-writing/badging documents that could be handled much more efficiently by one person in the LA. Indeed, at one school where we found a serious lack of formally approved policies, we simply went through the model LA ones and put our school name in them. It took hours, achieved nothing other than satisfying some box-ticker from Ofsted that we did have policies in place. But we were 'legal'! Let's get on top of the bureaucratic burden - I know we need to ease it for teachers, and we need to ease it for governors too not least because we volunteer our limited time and I would rather spend it on topics over which we have some direct influence.

Thursday 23 February 2012

OU courses for Governors

Well, as trailed a couple of months ago, I am back! I am now a member of an IEB for a failing primary school in Bradford. They are on the recovery path and I hope to be able to add something by way of my leadership and business expertise.

I was pleased to hear that Bradford is willing to use IEBs - it seems to me that when a school enters Special Measures there is a prima facie case for getting rid of the current Head and Governing Body, after all who else can be held to account for a failure of leadership and management? Not the pupils, that's for sure.

Anyway, as I was trailing through some stuff I found out that the Open University are offering a huge range of FREE courses in governance - check this link out . Gotta be worth a go!