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How To Deliver School Innovation Through Inclusion

Since Covid, everyone is talking about innovation and inclusion, but is your school seeing these as two separate strategic areas and only for the students? Or are you moving forward understanding how these are really two sides of the same coin, and perhaps it should be about the staff too?

You may be looking at innovation in terms of edtech for everyone, or a new curriculum or award, or for developing skills in your students, but have you given some thought as to how to create the best culture for change and innovation within your staff? Do you have high performing agile teams able to to support academic innovations as and when they arrive?

Culture of Innovation

According to McKinsey "crises are adrenaline for innovation" and we seem to have lurched from one crisis to another during the last 3 years. McKinsey's research shows that companies, and therefore similarly independent and international schools, who invest in innovation through a crisis out perform their peers in a recovery. That's something for us to think about, with falling school numbers in many schools, and greater competition for students between rival schools.

A culture of innovation thrives when everyone can bring their authentic selves to the table, are able to collaborate in a psychologically safe environment and have, or develop, the skills needed to implement innovation. This is inclusion meeting innovation: I can bring my authentic self to school, I feel I can suggest and contribute without fear and I know if we don't have the skills in our school to implement our innovation, we will be eager to develop ourselves to make it all happen. I know everyone really understands me and accepts me and knows how to work with me.

Barriers To A Culture Of Innovation

More often than not, poor self awareness and haphazardly constructed teams cause needless break downs in communication and a resistance to change which is much greater than necessary.

Not Really Knowing Your People...

In most businesses, unlike schools, middle and senior leadership teams, and their team members, undertake different supportive assessments throughout their career to develop their self awareness - such as the Myers Briggs or the Belbin Team Roles, and these are used alongside appraisals to guide self development, and ensure they are in the right job at the right time, and in the right team with the right people.

In schools, we focus almost entirely on how our staff achieve according to their targets, the progress of the children and KPIs or their targets rolling out of the SDP or SIP. Should we add a layer onto this now and take the best out of business and bring it into schools?

Belbin Team Roles has been used for years in high performing and agile businesses to ensure staff are doing what is best for them and best for their business - are we missing a trick by not using reliable research based tools such as Belbin in education, and if so, why would we not use research based questionnaires, that have been highly successfully in supporting the development of agile teams for many years?

In our experience, whilst supporting innovation in schools with the Belbin the process supports trust building, a common language, agile team profiles, and a genuine understanding and trust - a real sense of relief for all! Staff begin to feel understood and have open discussions about personal traits they thought no one knew about, but their observers had observed in them - which is always good humoured and a relief to know! Being truly understood, valued and having collaborative conversations about strengths and allowable weaknesses is the very essence of inclusion.

Being able to really know how your people tick and what makes them happy is at of the very heart of well being, and could be why businesses are able to innovate much better than schools are - and perhaps why there is a bigger and bigger gap between the rate of change seen in industry, and the fearful approach to innovation in many schools - catering for the well being and inclusion of all - without yoga maybe?

There are many things businesses could learn from schools, but perhaps schools could learn from business how to nurture the adults in their organisations better, understand them better, and find out how best to include them at what point and in what role.

If you would like to know more about how Full Circle Educational Consultancy Ltd can support your innovation and change management, through a Belbin model ,contact our Lead Consultant and Accredited Belbin Assessor Angela Fairs FRSA, MCCT

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