The term “change management” is often associated with organisations that are going through challenging times. However, the principles of change management can also be applied to organisations that have already achieved significant improvements and want to keep moving forward.
At Fitzalan High School (FHS), we had the opportunity to support an organisation that had already made great progress in reaching its goals and wanted to go even further. The Head Teacher, Cath Bradshaw, shared her desire to enhance the quality of leadership and management throughout the school, starting with herself and the senior managers. Our task was to help the school continue its positive trajectory through careful planning and a series of workshops.
Our first engagements with the school were in the form of assessment centres. Important vacancies existed in the school’s management structure and we worked with the school to fill them with candidates who understood and could contribute to the school’s desire for excellence.
Using a range of simulation exercises, psychometric tools and interview methods we helped the school obtain a deep insight in to each of the candidates. Working in partnership with senior leaders and students from the school, we developed a clear picture of each candidate’s:
- Motivations and drivers
- Areas for development and growth
The programme also comprised of a range of learning methods including expert input, self-evaluation techniques, challenging practice sessions (using professional business real-players) with detailed feedback, forum theatre observations, group work and opportunities to work through real-life situations that the participants must face.
As a result, FHS felt able to make informed decisions about the best candidates to join the senior team and improve the quality of teaching and learning, enhance performance and build a positive culture.
Now with the right people in place, we implemented a bespoke leadership programme for all of the senior leadership team members.
We began with exploration of each person’s personality profile (using the intricately detailed Saville Wave questionnaire), a self-assessment and a line manager viewpoint on individual strengths and development needs. We worked with each leader to produce a specific set of developmental targets, as well as utilising all of this information to help structure the workshops in order to create the most appropriate and effective programme.
The programme of workshop activities included:
- Setting a clear vision for the future of the school’s culture, environment and deliverables
- Identifying the type of leadership actions and behaviours that would enable the school to achieve the vision
- Understanding the core components of leadership and management
- Developing the skills and confidence to manage difficult conversations
- Building coaching skills to help staff members to fulfil their potential
- Understanding each other’s differences and how to work with them to sharpen team effectiveness
What was clear from the start of our engagement was the school’s desire to promote as much change as possible in each leader and manager. We agreed that we would encourage development by adding individual support and embedding workshop learning by linking it to real-value activity back in the school.
Each leader and manager benefited from regular coaching support to track progress against their developmental targets, to tackle more sensitive or confidential issues and to put in place plans and actions to promote further growth.
After some workshops we issued ‘workplace challenges’ to support the transfer of learning directly back into the workplace. The challenges included being allocated a member of staff to coach and mentor; and to identify and deliver a difficult conversation that needed to be had.
We have been delighted by the response of the participants in the programme. Levels of engagement in the workshops and coaching sessions has been excellent and each leader and manager has been making real efforts to bring about positive change in personal and team performance. The school has been careful to provide practical opportunities for people to apply their learning and encourage new ways of working.
The leaders have been reporting back on their successes and improvements, with some already having seen an impact on the results of their students. We look forward to working with FHS to develop leadership and management skills at other levels; helping the school to continue its drive towards increasing levels of excellence.
The supportive relationship with Insight has helped build trust and confidence in our leaders to manage their teams more effectively. Insight have designed individualised development modules that are flexible and take place outside of the school day, as well as helping us maximise other non-teaching opportunities.