School-Based Management 4: “owned” by the community?


One of the interesting sessions I attended last week concerned the provision of care services.  Seamus Breen kicked off by asking everbody a key question about the type of care they would like when they were old.  It turned out that no-one in the audience wanted to be looked after in a home – we all preferred to choose a type of care which was personalised to our preferences – find out more about self-directed help at in control .

It was while listening to this that  was taken back to something I heard over two years ago from Charles Leadbetter who focused on the notion of public value in public service. He issued the following prompts:

1. Don’t think about people as users or consumers –  instead think of people as participants and investors.
2. Don’t think of the frontline as being in the classroom –  it’s “out there” and we need to operate “out there” – establish guerilla networks for change.
3. Personalization of service – tailored services established through dialogue and respect e.g. Assessment is for Learning; Challenge the traditional building blocks of the system – school year, periods, timetable; trusting the participants; be flexible and adaptive; devolve finance to the users; workforce redesign.
4. People want to self-provide – they don’t want to be dependent upon a service –  however well delivered.
5. Public services need to think more about creativity than delivery
6. In order to provide shape to our service we need to set boundaries –  need to set them up in such a way that they are not stifling – take risks!!
7. Create satisfaction by eliminating dissatisfaction.

It was this last point that enabled me to make the connection as Seamus Breen asked a similar question:

“Would you purchase it yourself?”

I feel there is enormous potential within the school/(community)-based management approach that would enable participants to answer such a questiion in the affirmative. The main change that such a system could introduce is the notion of the school being “owned” by the community. The shift in the perceived ownership of the school would actually match what people want to feel about their local school but where the perception of a centralised power base still keeps them removed from the real running of the school.

Part of this relates to the theme of rural schools – I live across the road from a rural school (see photo) which was closed in 1949 but which ripped the heart of the community even at that time.  If we pick up on the Scottish Government’s intention to see schools as a central part of each community perhaps the time is now right for a radical re-examination  of the school-based management?