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Peter Barnard

on 2 May 2017

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Transcript of Prophecy:

I often use this video
in training
if time allows. It
is an insight into
management change, innovation, and the danger of repeating the past and failing to act. Even when schools know what to do it is still easy to make errors. Schools have to learn the 'how' and 'why' and being self-taught doesn't always do it!
Vertical Tutoring
...avoidable mistakes

Mistake 1
Assume that VT is a change to the school's pastoral system. Schools that think this simply reinvent the system they already have and can too easily make matters worse rather than better.
Mistake 2
Don't bother with proper training. The Leadership Team is clever and we can train our own staff. We can set up a working party and go see how other schools work...
Mistake 3.
Decide tutor group size in an arbitrary or convenient way (say 25 students about OK). Organize groups based on friendship. Attach a tutor to the group. Put tutor time where registration is and kill two birds with one stone.
Mistake 4
Organize a VT Launch Day so it's all fun and everyone is happy. Oh! and make sure none of the senior staff are tutors, and while we're at it why not organise Houses by departments and faculties? This will work well!
Mistake 5
Visit schools without first knowing what it is you're looking for. This is the dangerous idea behind the
self-improving school system
which ensures that system errors are repeated and embedded. By all means visit schools with your students but what you will see is far from all you need to know.
About half the schools that go vertical make mistakes and most don't know what they are! Some even revert back having managed the transition badly (schools then say, '
VT wasn't for us!'
). The mistakes are caused by using the thinking assumptions of the linear same-age system in order to manage something entirely different. Set out here is a small selection of system mistakes. .

If you don't know why these are bad errors, you're already in deep trouble. These areas ignore psychology and best practice, principles, and values. You've reinvented the past and are heading for problems. VT is entirely values driven and psychology secure.
Mistake 6
VT is a change to the learning culture of the school which, when understood as a system, impacts directly on teaching and learning Everything improves over time when managers manage the system rather
than the people.
So, how do you know what "to see?"As soon as a w/p is set up, they need training to prevent huge time wastage and mistakes. In a w/p, the person who stays awake longest usually gets their way. Beware the school leader who denies training to the staff; sign of arrogance, ignorance and insecurity. A w/p will never achieve the learning needed without expert help (ever). Please seek advice!!
NB. Again, a litany of old management ideas and misapplied psychology. The way students meet their new tutors for the first time is critical and all to do with pro-school in-group loyalty. Don't know what that means? Then please use the website to get informed! No games and no fun involved. That comes much later.
Visiting a trained VT school that knows what it's doing is critical but is never enough. It is not a substitute for an in-depth briefing, training, and systems thinking. Best practice is worldwide and it is important to know what works and why. A system has many, many parts and all must work as one.
Heads of House should have their own offices and set out exactly what tutors should do each day in tutor time....perhaps some PSHE?
Heads of House need their own intense preparation given that each is really a Head of a small school. So what do tutors do in tutor time? What do HOH do? How is this all managed? The same as when they were in same- age groups it seems!
No. The statements above are wrong but we need to know why?
These are just a few errors. We haven't even mentioned parents, assessment for learning, communication, roles, academic calendars, policies, practices, procedures, protocols and principles etc. etc. etc,
The VT SYSTEM uses systems thinking to put the school together in a very different but more coherent and personalized way. Management has to change, not just the way we tutor. Managers are there to make sure all learning relationships (interconnectivity) flow and support learning. This will impact on all of the above but schools need to understand why and how.
Finally, take a look at this short video on change
VT is not so simple...

First, consider these questions:
Can a school implement VT without specialist training?

The answer is 'Yes' but it will prove almost impossible to manage VT well and the school will never fulfil the system potential for improvement . This is because the school will take old linear management practices, ideas, and policies with it when these really need to be abandoned & replaced. It is school management and organization that has to change. Simply mixing age-groups without systems training is hugely disruptive.

But surely, we know our staff well and we don't want them to be upset by provocative ideas. Managers feel protective towards their staff but in reality, the management team is protecting itself against change. In my experience, staff, students, governors, and parents take immediately to the ideas of systems thinking and systems leadership. Staff usually feel 'liberated' and say, '
At last, some trust and common sense!'
Too many managers assume they have the skills and knowledge to do the training themselves or prefer to get a local school in to do it. Both are bad ideas about maintaining control. All mistakes emanate from the Leadership Team, not staff.

Why is training so 'challenging?' It may seem that way at first to school managers. To transform from a linear culture of organization to a vertical one takes courage and a leap of faith. It first involves
the linear system, recognizing its failings, and then abandoning that system without regret. This means challenging very deep- ro0ted assumptions, policies, practices, procedures, protocols, and principles. Only when this is done can the school embrace a more innovative and creative learning culture. (This is called "self-organization".)

Why do semantics need to change? If we are to truly understand the school as a system and make it work, we need to embrace research, child psychology, learning culture and more besides. Terms like Value demand, failure demand, information flow, front and back office systems, interconnected loops and the like are conceptually more accurate and helpful. They don't assume and are quickly learned. PAB
Peter Barnard Consulting Ltd.
The LT can
either breathe life
into a school
or be the kiss of death. It depends entirely on a willingness to
Full transcript