Before we introduce new initiatives, as SLTs, are we really asking the questions that count?
a) Who will benefit from this? and
b) Will the benefits be sufficient to warrant the extra demands that will be made of staff?
If the answers to the above questions are 'Ofsted' and 'no', then do yourself and your teachers a favour...
Of course, we are all aiming for quadrant one (see graphic), the 'golden hen' quadrant: maximum payback for just a handful of corn. But, in all likelihood, like the golden hen, it is a fictional concept, virtually impossible to achieve. Teachers will tolerate quadrant 3, pointless as it may be, because it doesn't involve much extra work. Quadrant 2, therefore, is key. Staff are generally prepared to put in the effort as long the benefits are understood and are perceived to be attainable. Therefore it is vital to have any impact research ready to share with staff and to spend the time getting them fully on board. (For those staffrooms occupied by the jadeds, the doubtfuls and the obstinates, a handful of converts can work wonders...) Unfortunately, extra effort is often unavoidable so it's important the staff believe in what they are having to do.
For everybody's sanity (and mainly yours), QUADRANT 4 MUST BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS. Quadrant 4 poisons every new initiative: 'Is this going to be another one of those things that SLT makes us do but no one is sure why we have to do it or what good it actually does?' (Like when SLTs try to reduce the amount of written feedback teachers have to give in books by allowing them to give verbal feedback - but then making staff write 'Written Feedback Given' in every book when they do so.)
Remember, quadrant 4 only leads to (more) conversations like the following:
'Perhaps we did do this 20 years ago, Mrs 'Got-The-T-Shirt' Brown, but this time it will work because it's got a different name.'
'Yes, Mrs 'Obligatory Staffroom Dementor' Green, I know it will take a lot of time and energy to achieve and that the benefits will be small... but, as I have said, there will be benefits, we think. No, Mrs Edwards is not in your seat, nor is she drinking from your special mug.'
'Yes, I know this initiative does not affect the EYFS staff but they must sit through this really long staff meeting anyway so they have an overview of what is going on in the rest of the school. Such overviews are vital. We cannot give overviews like this in a quick, 5-minute-catch-up chat later in the week. No, the EYFS staff could not be using their time more effectively. Look, if we all have to be here till 6 o'clock, then they bloody have to be here too.'
'Good, yes, Miss 'Overly-Keen' NQT, now is the best time to get started - I agree - if we all just stayed up working until midnight every night for a week... what? You already do stay up working till midnight?!'
'Don't worry, Mrs 'I Don't Geddit' May, one of us will spend 10 minutes tomorrow lunch time going through the finer points of counting to ten with you.'
'Please don't break down in tears, Mrs 'Put Upon' Edwards. I know we have been here a long time and this will involve all of us putting in some extra effort - but, yes, you are expected to actually do some work to justify that UPS salary you were given 15 years ago.'
'Yes, Mrs 'Sicknote' Enfield will also be required to do this, when she returns to work... last we heard her man-flu was well on the way out. The doctor has prescribed some Sudafed and we expect to see her back at some point later this week. What?! One of her kids has now got it?!.... So, we'll expect to see her back at some point later this month. Unless she does her back again...'
'Yes, Mrs 'One-Too-Many-Questions' Smith, as we have said repeatedly tonight, we are indeed doing this for the children. If we impress Ofsted, then that will benefit the children indirectly. '
'No, now is not a good time to bring up arrangements for Christmas, Little Miss 'Super-Organised' Jones. It is half past six after all...'