It is especially important when working with schools to take into account that schools are part of a bigger system. Senge et al (2000) highlight that schools that improve are those that approach change from a systems perspective.
In keeping with this, school improvement projects that have the most impact are those that take the system into account and work within the broader structures of the education and individual school systems.
Deming (1994, 50) described a system as a “network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system.” It is therefore important that the interdependencies and components that make up the whole are understood and framed within a bigger systems approach.
It is not within the scope of the Learning Schools Initiative to address and work with change within the broader education system. However, aspects of the Learning Schools Initiative model can make a positive contribution at a systemic level. While schools can experience isolated pockets of excellence (e.g. a brilliant teacher), ideally so as to produce long term sustained results, the whole school needs to be geared for excellence.
Schools also need to be fertile ground in which key projects and programmes that support the improvement of teaching and learning together with general teacher and learner development and other identified areas for improvement can take root and thrive.
The most effective of programmes cannot succeed over the long term in a poorly organised low performing school.