School business manager: Developing the role
School business manager: Developing the role

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School business manager: Developing the role

2 How can you predict the future?

2.1 Looking forward

Because it is easy to explain things looking backwards, we think we can then predict them forwards. It doesn't work, as many economists know to their cost. The world keeps changing. It is one of the paradoxes of success that the things and the ways which got you where you are, are seldom the things to keep you there. If you think that they are, and that you know the way to the future because it is a continuation of where you've come from, you may well end up in Davy's Bar, with nothing left but a chance to drown your sorrows and reminisce about times past.

Charles Handy, 1994

What tools can we use to help us provide an education that prepares our students for their future?

Davies and Ellison have identified ten key re-engineering trends for schools, which are summarised below.

Click on 'view document' below to download an animation

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Many of these trends are beginning to show through already. Of course, these can be added to by each school as it sees fit. The contents of Every Child Matters, Extended Schools and workforce reform, for example, are found in the above-mentioned trends. Any one of these key trends can be analysed using a range of tools.

Any meaningful analysis, however, must be part of a process – it cannot be done quickly or easily or as a ‘one-off’. In my own school, a ‘strategy group’ of members of the leadership team was set up to ‘think the unthinkable’. Davies and Ellison (1999) suggest setting up a ‘futures group’. Look at the document in which the two authors list a simple matrix to guide you by clicking on ‘view document’ below.

Click on 'view document' below to read Futures Group Matrix

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Another useful tool in understanding the natural life cycle of an organisation is the Sigmoid curve, as described by Handy (1995). Read the explanation in the document below.

Click on 'view document' below to read The Sigmoid Curve

Now turn to Activity 2 to look more closely at Davies and Ellison's suggestions.

Activity 2

Preferably with colleagues, take any one of the trends identified by Davies and Ellison (or one of your own) and complete the matrix found at the end of the document called Futures Group Matrix (Click on ‘view document’ below).

Click here to access Futures Group Matrix

  • If possible, discuss your findings with senior colleagues.

  • What implications do you see?


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