Many South African Schools are facing demands to change and even to radically transform themselves. Some of these demands relate to the ‘isms’ such as racism and other identity-related issues. Schools are responding to the demands in different ways, some more successful than others. John Brand and Felicity Steadman have written about the process that they have developed and used helping schools and other organisations formulate change strategies.
It assumes that a school accepts that there is a need for change and that it wishes to develop a change strategy that will enable it to function effectively in and to make a constructive and successful contribution to a changing South Africa. It must also want the strategy to encourage harmony among pupils, alumnae, staff and parents rather than retard it.
It also assumes that a school accepts that the end does not justify the means, but that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “the end is pre-existent in the means” and that “The means represent the ideal in making and the end in process”.
What this process seeks to do, is to gather representatives of all a school’s stakeholders and to encourage them to work together to find interest-based, and mutual gain outcomes to the challenges which the school faces. It is our experience that changes which are arrived at in a respectful, inclusive and collaborative manner are generally meaningful to all stakeholders and are sustainable. In essence, the process helps the parties critically evaluate the school culture and identify problems, agree on relevant facts and data, creatively search for and evaluate solutions and then agree on objectives and practical and cost-effective action plans for the way forward.
For meaningful change to occur, the means to achieve it requires time and effort. Experience shows that quick and superficial processes are more likely to entrench people in adversarial and traditional positions than to facilitate change. They also tend and to generate conflict, rather to moderate it.
The process that the authors recommend requires a school, and representatives of all the relevant stakeholders to invest resources and time into the process. The process does not deliver quick-fix solutions and, to be sustainable, the strategy that it delivers has to be properly funded over a period of time. Therefore, the leadership of the school must be committed to change and to the painstaking process required to achieve effective change. The process is described in detail in their article HERE.