The quest for quality

Making Quality Education Happen: A How-to Guide for Every Teacher by Richard Hayward

Readers of the Teacher will be familiar with the writing of Dr Richard Hayward. The Teacher/i> has published many short articles on school quality and improvement written by Hayward, a retired teacher and principal. Hayward has been in education for almost 40 years.
In Making Quality Education Happen he shares his valuable experience and insight into improving school quality.

The book is practical and filled with ideas. It is aimed at everyone from newly qualified teachers to school principals. In his introduction Hayward acknowledges that the inequality of the provision of education in the past has left us with many challenges and an education system of varying quality. He compares the walled suburb of Dainfern with the sprawling informal settlements of Diepsloot less than 5km away, vividly contrasting their schools.

He shows that improving school quality isn’t always about money and notes that much of the initiative needs to come from the people in a community. Although I agree with Hayward to a large degree, we cannot ignore the impact of deprivation. Whereas a lot can be done in the school environment, the social consequences of poverty on children’s development must be taken into account.

Hayward’s book is based on the concept of total quality management. By the word “total” he means that every person and every aspect of the school is in a state of continual improvement; that everyone has a part to play in improving the school.

Hayward acknowledges that quality is a difficult concept to clarify in a school setting. For example, teachers at schools in the leafy suburbs of Cape Town would define a quality neighbourhood school differently from their Khayelitsha colleagues. For Hayward quality is based on the core principle that there should be continual improvement of every person and every process in a school.

The quality in the education model developed in Making Quality Education Happen has five pillars that are clear and easy to understand. These pillars are values, leadership, improvement plans, communication and tools and techniques. The pillars are distinct, but each is interlinked in a quality school. Each of the pillars is described separately in later chapters of the book.

Making Quality Education Happen is written in a friendly, accessible manner. Hayward makes frequent reference to real school examples and demonstrates an excellent understanding of school context. In his chapter on communication, for example, he notes that no school has perfect communication and that breakdowns occur.

Communication is more than simply conveying information; it’s also about relationships. Hayward provides many examples of effective means of communication, such as calendars, diaries, meetings, newsletters, SMS messaging and using the physical environment of the school as a source of communication.

Hayward considers the implementation of total quality education in the final chapter. He notes that education has been in a state of change and that many are change-weary. The real challenge in implementation is to get “buy-in” from everyone. People have to be convinced there will be positive benefits and be committed for the “long ride”.

A crucial factor in implementation is commitment from the top. Senior staff have to be committed and need to motivate staff. Other steps in the implementation process include:

  • Training;
  • Developing shared values;
  • Applying quality leadership principles; and
  • Communication and implementing plans.

    Making Quality Education Happen is a valuable resource, packed with practical ideas. The book is a powerful resource for change.

    Mark Potterton is director of the Catholic Institute of Education. The book is a CSI project of Caxton and the CTP Group. It costs R30 a copy. This pays for packaging and posting. The book itself is free. To place an order contact Richard Hayward on 011 888 3262

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