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Strategy planning: 4 tips for SMTs to win over teachers and IT managers

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Each academic year, schools work incredibly hard to balance a number of individual and wider strategic goals. These include meeting pupils needs and raising attainment, as well as preparing for inspection bodies like Ofsted. As senior leaders, the buck often stops with you to manage these objectives. 

A clear strategic plan is essential to achieving these goals, and no doubt you’ve documented these plans each year. But have you always achieved positive buy-in from your teachers and IT managers? 

According to our annual State of Technology in Education report, educators’ confidence in their schools’ strategies is falling. Just over half of school staff believe their school has a clear strategic vision for the year ahead; that’s 17% less than last year. 

So, if you’re consistently putting together a clear strategy but it’s lacking wider school support, here are 4 tips to boost your staff buy-in:

1. Gather input across the school

When it comes to formulating your strategy, wider goals like attainment and are incredibly important to the success of your institution, but do you always consider the front line problems, too? 

According to the report, there’s been a dramatic increase in respondents taking a key role in their school’s strategy. The exception are teachers, with just 7.4% stating they had involvement.

Could this be the case in your school? If so, to ensure your strategy is supported by all staff, gather insights and feedback from all corners of the school. This includes your IT managers and teachers, too. There’s a good chance you’ll find their insight surprising and invaluable on topics you may have considered out of their remit. 

2. Learn your teachers’ pain points

Part of gathering insights from all your staff is listening to your teachers’ challenges. 

According to this year’s State of Technology in Education, over 80% of teachers believe their workload is contributing to high levels of stress, up 19.1% from last year. Senior leaders agree, but only 65.6%—revealing a disconnect between senior leadership and the classroom. 

Including time-saving strategies in your plan, like edtech investment, for example, could certainly boost teacher buy-in. Whatever the main issues are, find out if there’s a communication gap and consider whether it’s realistic to tackle these challenges in your wider plan.

“The cloud-based development of shared learning resources allows teachers to be more collaborative and creative in meeting the needs of a wide range of students.”

Head of Department / Faculty, Local Authority School, Scotland

3. Make use of your technical staff

Are you planning on including more technology in your next school strategy? Then don’t forget to get input from your technical staff, too.

According to the State of Technology in Education 2019/20 report, twice as many senior leaders want to use technology to enhance school collaboration than two years ago, and almost 50% say they want to use tech to boost pupil engagement. But with budgets tight, schools must ensure they are investing in the most future-proof technologies for the job.

If this sounds familiar, your IT manager could be an underused resource. They are best positioned to advise on which tech solves multiple classroom challenges as well as offering insight on the best total cost of ownership value, like a Promethean ActivPanel. With their valuable input, you’re more likely to have ongoing support helping less-technical staff, too.

4. Promote strong leadership

Sometimes under the pressure of budgetary issues, meeting complex school objectives and managing wider academic issues, the day-to-day leadership of staff can lose focus. 

Why is this significant to your school strategy? According to our survey, of those staff that identify a lack of strategy, a failure in leadership is blamed by 40.9%—with teachers and IT being most critical of school leaders. So, if you’re consistently lighting the way for your staff, making them feel both supported and consulted on high-level school plans, it’s more likely they will champion your strategic goals, too.

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