Leverage for impact: increasing productivity in schools

How can you maximise the impact of your actions to make your school a more productive place? Simon Leicester, director of finance and business and school governor, sheds some light on leveraging for impact

How do you improve staff productivity? In a school setting it’s, arguably, about increasing the impact made using some form of leverage; ‘increasing the impact made’ is a phrase rich with possibilities. Impact will be greater when the effort is more focused, the concentration more intense and the ambition more audacious.
Where effort and concentration help avoid costly mistakes, applying leverage for impact can be useful in generating additional benefits. A simple example in a school setting is fundraising. Quickly reaching sympathetic prospective donors with a compelling message, while avoiding countless ‘blind alleys’, will deliver financial impact and applying leverage will increase these. That leverage might be enlisting the help of affluent donors to fundraise amongst their peers; in this instance the trust is instant, unlike school-donor relationships where you are building from scratch, which can dramatically enhance your outcomes.
What’s another form of leverage for impact? If you can create a virtuous cycle (self-repeating) and have one point in the cycle on which you can apply leverage, the impact will be improved. One opportunity might be to host after-hours training courses for both school staff and external trainees. With careful planning, the training could be free or subsidised for school staff, allowing them to upskill and create more efficient processes – by working smarter not harder – and free up staff time to achieve greater impact elsewhere in the school.
Some other forms of leverage to consider:

  • change the incentives
  • align the goals (school vision right through to individual targets)
  • co-ordinate the efforts (direction and timing)
  • improve systems integration
  • use creative brainstorming techniques
  • encourage a more positive attitude to change amongst the staff (more dialogue with the opinion-leaders and more training to make adjustments).
Note: The content here is the author’s view alone and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the views of his academy school or the other academy school where he contributes as a governor.
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