Are there lessons to be learnt from a chaotic year in the Department for Education?
Although the DfE would be at pains to deny this, it would be disingenuous to suggest that the process leading up to SATs in primary schools this year has been anything other than chaotic and shambolic. Missed deadlines, examination leaks, blame games, mistakes; we’ve had it all this year. In implementing the new interim assessments, the DfE have demonstrated many traits that effective leaders should endeavour to ensure do not form any part of their practice.
Below are some lessons we can learn from the DfE.
Have a Long-Term Plan:
Prioritise the steps and set a long-term plan for success. Set rough timelines for when you want to do things and the criteria necessary to deem them successful. Be mindful of whole school priorities or events that may be taking place that may impact on workload or the ability to effectively implement your vision. Remember also, that too much change implemented too quickly can have a destabilising effect on your team or department.
Set Targets and Deadlines:
Within your long-term plan you can then set realistic targets and deadlines.
You already know what you want to achieve in the long-term, and have broken this down into smaller segments. Now it is time to share what is expected from your team or department and to set out a realistic timeframe for this step of your journey. Having already considered it as part of the larger picture, you have limited the likelihood of anybody (including yourself) missing deadlines or being unable to contribute to your vision.
Don’t be afraid to be honest. If there is going to be an increase in expectations or workload, it is important that everybody is completely aware of this in order to prepare and implement any changes consistently across the team. Telling people what you think they want to hear, only for them to for the reality to be different, will eventually harness hostility and distrust.
Own Your Mistakes:
… and learn from them.
*main image: The Spectator/Getty