Doing the right thing for everyone
The last couple of years have helped to show the general public how schools are more than 9am to 3pm providers of education to children. That they are centrepieces of communities, the facilitators of childcare that enable parents to go to work, one of the first lines in safeguarding, and essential contributors to the social development of our young people.
As education professionals, most of us already knew that, just as much as we know that schools are places that inspire and nurture creativity, curiosity, and a thirst for lifelong learning. But not everyone sees a school through the same lens as those who work in it. Indeed, some that work in education don't recognise the importance of a school outside of the upcoming end of year assessments, league tables or impending Ofsted inspections and it is often these schools that struggle.
Successful schools recognise that that they are part of a wider community, that they serve many different stakeholders and that each group of stakeholders have different expectations with regards to what the school provides for them.
The main four groups of external stakeholders are: pupils, parents, community and regulators, and an effective school has a strategy in place that serves the different interests of these groups. The outcomes and progress of our pupils should absolutely remain the primary focus; schools are bursting with colleagues who stretch every nerve and sinew to give of their best for children. It's why we love working in schools. It is not a job, it's a vocation that has a legacy and a lifelong impact.
However, by identifying what the school does, and should do, to meet the interests of the other stakeholder groups and by putting systems in place to measure how the school is meeting these needs we can ensure that we can deliver the best for everyone.
The Balance Scorecard
Schools are adept at capturing performance data and, as with pupil data, the key with other stakeholder information is to make sure that we only collect data and metrics that are of use to us. A Balance Scorecard is a great tool that schools can use to facilitate data and relevance to stakeholders. This tool is grounded in organisational management theory and is well respected outside of the education sector.
The premise is that schools build a strategy map that shows qualitative outputs against areas such as internal HR and capacity, internal processes, organisational resources, and stakeholders and outcomes.
If we assume that the strategy is headlined by the school vision of Children First, then it would look something like the attached diagram. Working from the bottom up, each of the outcomes in the coloured squares will need to be achieved to deliver the vision. The lines linking the outcomes show the inter-dependencies between the results.
After refining this map, schools can then take a step back and consider their operations. If anything they're doing doesn't fit into one of those outputs, we should ask ourselves why we are doing it. We've just mapped what needs to happen to achieve our vision and anything that doesn't contribute to that is effectively slowing down our progress to our vision.
Adding the external stakeholders
Each of those outputs can be measured in line with our stakeholder groups and what they're looking for, and this is where the Balance Scorecard gets really powerful. There will be the usual progress, attainment, behaviour, attendance data, but other metrics that are also important. Capturing these, measuring them over time, and giving a RAG rating to them creates a powerful Balanced Scorecard of the school's impact on its environment across all stakeholder groups, allowing leadership and governors to identify what is working particularly well and what perhaps needs a bit more TLC.
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