A stakeholder: a
person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business.
“stakeholder” is not always hugely loved by educators. We know we are “there
for the kids” but this shouldn’t mean that we always do what they say. If
we did, then school life would be very different to what we have now.
Equally, we appreciate that we need to listen to parents but teachers tend to
feel that we need the authority to make decisions given our training and
educational experience, and perhaps to counter the growing pseudo-eduexpertise
we are seeing in some parents.
It feels like
there has been an exponential increase in the number of organisations bending
over backwards to listen to those they serve. Last week I went to a
hospital which had lovely shiny buttons they wanted me to press to show how
highly I rated the quality of their service. Then at the weekend I found
an almost identical set of buttons in a Scandinavian furniture superstore near
me. Even the Department for Education is getting in on the act. At
the bottom of their website it reads: “Is this page useful?” with a YES/NO
answer followed by, “Is there anything wrong with this page?”
Most schools have
conducted some form of stakeholder analysis for years. Usually this takes
the form of a major annual or biennial pupil and parent questionnaire;
sometimes we have surveyed the staff too. Again, these have given some
interesting and important information about their views but should certainly
not be seen as the only measure of a school’s success.
The Labour Party
has announced this week that they will abolish Ofsted in its current form. So
that is one key regulatory stakeholder that would be silenced. But despite the
“Ofsted call” often being the headteacher’s nightmare, I think many heads and
educationalists do recognise deep down that there should be some form of
external, unambiguous and objective stakeholder for schools; albeit with
Many simple tools
for mapping/plotting your stakeholders exist. These can be a good start
for senior leadership teams or local governing bodies in embracing the views of
a wider range of stakeholders. A matrix can then start to show how the
views and interests of different stakeholders might differ. There are
plenty of such models out there. My personal favourite was devised by
Eden and Ackermann. It helps identify the power and interest of
stakeholders as well as simply who they might be.
Whilst such stakeholder identification, consultation and engagement can be time consuming, I have found that it draws us closer to those we serve and helps us ensure that we really are serving those we should as best as we can.
CEO, LIFE Education Trust
Eden, C. and Ackermann, F. (1998)
Making Strategy: The Journey of Strategic Management , London: Sage
Publications, pgs 343 – 347.