Change Management in Schools

Why is Change Management necessary in education? We find ourselves in a time when the organisations and institutions in which we work are changing dramatically in terms of their structure, their strategies, their systems and, not least, their expectations of their staff. The rate of change and discovery often outpaces our individual ability to keep up with it. These statements I have paraphrased from the book ‘Making Sense of Change Management: ’ by Cameron and Green, as they seem to ring true in our schools, especially those involved in capital build projects such as BSF or PCP. What is Change Management? Change Management seems to cover a wide brief; you may come across it in business or commerce where a new system or way of working is being proposed or implemented, you may come across it in project management where a change or amendment is being considered within the project, and you may come across it in coaching or counselling where individuals or teams are being better prepared to cope a change and its effects. For me, effective change management in schools should have elements from all three of these examples, with an emphasis upon the third example. I like to see the emphasis upon the third example, where individuals or teams are being better prepared for the change and its effects, because in schools we are principally concerned with the outcomes of our teaching and learning, for which we rely upon our staff and our learners. CPD and Change Management Sometimes we see Change Management combined with CPD or training and there is little doubt that elements of training are important in successful change management. Change Management, though, requires more than just one day’s INSET or time in staff meetings to be effective. Change Management needs to be planned, it needs to be ongoing and it needs to be geared to the levels of the individual or teams affected. It requires time and finance, two things we are often short of in schools especially with all the other ongoing demands on resources. Additionally, effective change management needs to be able to respond in ‘emergencies’ where an individual is having difficulty coping with new ideas, aproaches, systems or just the thought or prospect of their introduction or, indeed, where a particular new system is misfunctioning or having unforseen adverse effects. Change Management and Financial Control Effective change management may also have an effect upon finacial controls or budgetting. I daresay we can all think of a project, an initiative or piece of equipment which has been introduced at great expense but which has subsequently failed to live up to expectations or lain idle or rarely been used to its full potential. Such situations will often give rise to thoughts, or even accusations, of money and time having been wasted. My thinking here is that where a new project or initiative is combined with a process of change management, then the potential benefits of the project are more likely to be realised and there would be a lower likelihood of accusations of misspent money. Let’s not go overboard here. I am not saying that we need a full blown Change management implementation every time a school acquires an additional piece of equipment, especially where that piece of equipment is just an augmentation of what already exists. However, where a complete new system or a new way of working is being considered, then I believe that change management should be implemented to ensure its effective introduction and subsequent use.