Building the Capacity for Leading and Learning

David Hopkins and David Jackson
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School Capacity . . .
“. . . can be defined as the collective competency of the school as an entity to bring about effective change . . . It is now clear that for school improvement, leadership needs to focus on two dimensions – the teaching and learning focus on the one hand and capacity on the other.” (NCSL, 2001)

School culture and climate are concepts which lie at the heart of school-improvement – but remain comparatively static concepts as opposed to the forces that act in dynamic interplay with the climate of the school – as dynamic as the world around them.
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School Improvement . . .

“. . . A systematic, sustained effort aimed at change in learning conditions and other related internal conditions . . . with the ultimate aim of accomplishing educational goals more effectively.” (Van Velzen et al, 1985, p. 48) “. . . Is a strategy for achieving positive educational change that focuses on student achievement by modifying classroom practice whilst simultaneously adapting the management arrangements within the school to support teaching and learning.” (Hopkins, 2001) ‘Know what’ has moved to ‘know how’. The shift to school ownership of change inevitably leads to a requirement for greater understanding about how to create ‘capacity’. (Hopkins and Jackson 2003, p.87)
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Capacity – an exploration
Staff’s preparedness to deal with change. (Meyer, 1992)  + The learning organisation. (Senge, 1990) ---------------------------------------------------------- = A learning community. (a way of viewing capacity) (Mitchell and Sackney, 2000) In focusing on capacity, a school will be able to sustain continuous improvement efforts or to manage change effectively.

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School Capacity - A
The collective competency of the school as an entity to bring about effective change. Key components:  Knowledge, skills and dispositions of individual staff members.  Staff working collaboratively to set goals as a professional learning community engaged in inquiry and problem-solving.  Programme coherence as in a clear learning programme.  Technical resources to facilitate and support. (Newman, King and Young, 2000)
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School Capacity - B
Staff members = human capital Fullan (2000) identifies two key organisational features: Professional development of individuals having an impact on the organisation.

The concept of ‘professional learning communities’, providing the ‘social capital’ aspect of capacity, i.e. individual skills can only be realised if the relationships within the schools are continually developing. The component of organisational capacity – programme coherence, i.e. the most effective schools are those that are able to integrate, align and coordinate innovations into their own focused programmes.
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School Capacity - C
“’The maximum or optimum amount of production’ and in so doing relates to issues of efficiency –  ‘the optimal amount of production that can be obtained from a given set of resources and organisational arrangements.’” (Corcoran and Goertz, 1995, p. 27)
  

Optimal performance = efficiency Outcomes = effectiveness
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School Capacity - D

In order to improve outcomes, schools need to increase ‘leverage’ – the ability (or capacity) of teachers to enhance student learning. In order to expand leverage a school needs to be able to increase its intellectual capital (what teachers know and can do) which it does especially by developing its ability (or capacity) to create and to transfer knowledge.
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A + B + C + D = 4 unifying factors
1. 3.

The importance of the people. Alignment and synergies to elicit optimum team performance and output. Organisational arrangements which support personal and interpersonal capacity development. ‘Higher order domain’ – shared values, social cohesion, trust, well-being, moral purpose, involvement,Bldng the Capcty for Lding and Lrning care, valuing. 9

5.

7.

4 = climate & culture (the interpersonal and the organisational components of schools) =  Basis for

Professional learning community Leadership capacity
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5 elements making up Capacity
    

Foundation conditions The personal The interpersonal The organisational External opportunities

composed of the synergies, interconnections and the emotional and spiritual glue.
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1. Foundation conditions Forming an infrastructural stability 3. The personal Knowledge, skills, active and reflective construction of knowledge. 5. The interpersonal Working together on shared purposes 4. The organisational Concerned with building, developing and redesigning structures that create and maintain sustainable organisational processes. 5. External opportunities The change forces and reform directives so often paralysing, destabilising or debilitating.
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Capacity

A static concept (the potential energy)

The school’s potential to give form to strategic possibilities.

An active process (the kinetic energy)

The process of capacity-building – strategies that allow the school to harness the abilities, skills and knowledge acquired during one process of change to facilitate subsequent changes.
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For professional learning community growth and external support, schools require both internal and external networking
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The Role of Networks in Supporting School Improvement and Building Capacity
Networks are purposeful social entities characterised by a commitment to quality, rigour, and a focus on outcomes. They are also an effective means of supporting innovation in times of change. In education, networks promote the dissemination of good practice, enhance the professional development of teachers, support capacity building in school, mediate between centralised and decentralised structures and assist in the process of re-structuring and re-culturing educational organisations and systems. (Hopkins, 2001, ch. 10)
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A Network enables stakeholders to make connections and to synergise activities around common priorities.

Governments adopt the system not only as a strategy to assist in the implementation of its reform agenda, but also as a capacitybuilding innovation in its own right.
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Isolation

Isolation may have been appropriate during times of stability, but during times of change there is a need to ‘tighten the loose coupling’, to increase collaboration and to establish more fluid and responsive structures.

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Implications for Leadership – Distributed Leadership and Capacity Building

D.L. resides in the potential available to be released within an organisation. In essence, it is the intellectual capital of the organisation residing within its members. The role of the leader is to harness, focus, liberate, empower and align that leadership towards common purposes and, by so doing, build and release capacity.
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Distributed Leadership
Its increase in capacity is about creating the spaces, the contexts and the opportunities for expansion, enhancement and growth.  Leadership has to be given wilfully by those who are to be led – we allow ourselves to be led, just as we allow ourselves to be coached.
 

= reciprocal relationship

empowerment
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Synergy

– allowing fluidity and flexibility between people. – moving distributed function in a common direction.
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Alignment

Organisational implications
Entwined power relationships and role responsibilities – the right to lead has to be earned, granted by the followers.  The more hierarchical the management structure, the more the liberation of leadership capacity is likely to be stifled. School as an organisation must adapt and reshape its practices in order to generate natural contexts for people to take responsibility in working with and through others i.e. the development of internal networks.

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The Function of Distributed Leadership in Practice
It involves collective meaning-making in the light of emerging knowledge and understandings from inquiry. It is where leadership and organisational growth collide; where knowledge creation and the implementation of change connect, because ‘such leadership also creates action that grows out of these new and shared understandings. This transformative dimension is the core of leadership – and, by definition, it is distributed’. (Lambert, 1998, p. o)

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Groups of teachers, working collaborative inquiry or planning activity, led by someone whose leadership is not entwined with role status, provide opportunities for the expression and growth of leadership capacity. It also provides lateral learning impetus required to break down organisational barriers and to foster cultural norms hospitable to internal networks. Knowledge creation and knowledge-sharing are processes at the heart of leadership or collaborative enquiry.
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The Role of the Designated Leader
Everyone has both the potential and the entitlement to contribute towards leadership. The designated leader’s role is to facilitate this entitlement – to create the organisational conditions, the climate and the support for all members to be able to contribute their latent leadership – to release both the kinetic and the potential energy of leadership.  In organisations seeking to learn together, school leaders give away power, distribute leadership and support others to be successful.

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Conclusion

In moving towards distributed leadership models, the leader is the critical change agent – the guardian and facilitator of transitions. Transition management is the new focus for transformation. Distributive leadership and collaboration is a social capital built on trust. Trust relationships allow open engagement and knowledge-sharing. Such leaders will unite the school around shared values and higher-order purposes. Such re-design should normalise collaborative learning in which leadership can be widely available and unrelated to role status.
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