Guest post: How can schools make restructuring staff more effective?

Denise Inwood, Former Assistant Head Teacher and Managing Director of BlueSky, creators of BlueSky Education, shares some tips on how schools can restructure staff in an effective way….

A variety of reasons and pressures can lead you to think about restructuring your staff.

For example, curriculum changes, changes to pay and conditions – including additional responsibilities, and taking forward opportunities – like expansion or consolidation. There may also be financial pressures, leading you to consider more efficient and effective use of resources. However, staff restructuring should not be a result of individual concerns or re-grading of staff to keep costs down.

So what are the key points that should be considered in order to make the most of your team?

Key points to consider

A restructure is simply defined as a management-led change that results in reorganisation of an existing structure. It can be for one team, or on a much larger scale. It can lead to redeployment of staff to other roles, changes to the grading of posts or positions becoming redundant.

Whichever it is, the key question is, ‘Is the proposed structure change driven by student need? Is it the best for students?’ Whilst the quick answer to this is nearly always ‘yes’, it is certainly worth some deeper reflection. Will teaching provision and outcomes for students improve?

Other questions to ask include:

  • Can you use this opportunity to re-think some traditional educational roles? Could roles such as heads of house and year be kept with amended job description and remits, or can you develop some creative ideas, e.g. technicians supporting learning in the classroom, or all staff being tutors, enabling two form tutors, and so on.
  • Does the restructure align with future changes to the education requirements? No one wants to restructure regularly, so does the proposed structure have a long life-span?
  • Does the proposed structure provide opportunities for your talent pool? We all have future leaders in our school, who we want to retain. Are you providing opportunities for their promotion, now and into the future? Will it put the right people in the right place?
  • Who are the likely winners and losers in the structure? Have you thought the implications through? Are staff likely to welcome the change in time and how will it affect morale?

You must also consider the processes that will enable the change. Driven by the need for improvement, restructuring should be based upon fairness and transparency, provide staff with an opportunity to air their views and give alternative suggestions, allowing for appropriate consultation at the earliest opportunity.

Essential elements of an effective restructure

  1. Any restructure should align with the school’s vision, strategy and direction over the next few years. For example, if your curriculum structure is changing, then a restructure should support that strategy and enhance the outcomes.
  2. Make it as simple as possible. There are four considerations here.
  • Design the new structure for your strategy before you design the people and roles
  • Avoid making any leadership roles too complex
  • Consider if you already have the staff to fit the new structure
  • Think about the processes for the change – are they simple, transparent and fair?
  1. Keep the attention on the school’s core activities which are teaching and learning, as it can be easy to focus on areas not central to this. The new structure must add as much value as possible. Try to focus on what people are doing now and obtain a detailed examination of staff tasks to help you ensure that those that add value are not lost in the restructure.
  1. Ensure new roles are feasible, do not overload roles by making the workload too high. This can become the case if the restructure is to reduce cost with fewer staff doing the same work. If point three is done well, then make sure all roles are well balanced and are neither too heavy nor too light.
  1. Think of work-life balance, which is mostly achieved by paying heed to points three and four above. Also remember, ‘to ensure leaders are appropriately loaded, it’s critical to understand and adjust, as required, the number of staff they directly manage or supervise, the staffs’ ability to perform work without supervision, and the amount of ‘own work’ they have to do on top of their staff management.’ (Bevington Group). If leaders coach and mentor underperforming staff, it can increase their workload and impact on their effectiveness.
  1. Think through implementation. The danger in a new structure is that staff may not know who is responsible for what – be clear about this from the beginning. Identify all activities, tasks, and decisions to be accomplished for effective operation, who should be involved, and what each person’s responsibility in the activity should be.
  1. Be flexible – it is often the case that, in the first few months of implementation, you will need some resource contingency as change beds-in. Plan for this ‘wriggle room’.

Concluding leadership considerations

Many staff find change hard. In addition to going over things already covered, there is another area to consider, which is ensuring that the right people are in the right place after the restructure. How well do you know your staff? Do you know their skills, attributes and values that underpin their performance? Can they lead, coach, mentor, manage and adapt to change, develop their roles? Therefore, can they meet the roles that you have for them?

What are the CPD needs generated by the restructure? How do we make staff feel as valued and as positive as we can during the change? Even the smallest restructure needs you to consider these points. From this, you can plan your CPD strategy to enable the change process, and get the right people ready to take their right place in the structure.


Denise Inwood is a former Assistant Head Teacher and Managing Director of BlueSky, creators of BlueSky Education, the leading online performance management, professional learning and self-evaluation solution for schools. Upi can follow on Twitter @BlueSkyMatters


Some good advice put together here by Denise – any questions or anything you would either challenge or add? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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