M. Macintyre1, W. Garner2, S. Murphy2, A. Macintyre1, A. Preece1, G. Moradi2, P. Evans3

1University of Warwick (UNITED KINGDOM)
2Coventry University (UNITED KINGDOM)
The purpose of this work is to explore the implementation of process improvement techniques in secondary education. Success from the application of these typical industrial techniques has been demonstrated in a number of service type areas, but limited research is available within the secondary educational system.
The main objective was to assess which of the tools and techniques commonly associated with lean and six sigma management techniques were already in practice at schools. Following on from this further assessment was undertaken to understand if there was scope for further/new developments.
Two case study schools were selected to undertake a comparative study. The schools were selected because they were of a similar size and serving a similar community (although Tile Hill is an all-girls school) and both schools were awarded a Grade2 in a recent Ofsted inspection. In a pre-meeting the Heads of each school agreed the area of focus for the analysis. A high level process mapping technique, SIPOC (Supplier, Input, process Output, Customer) was used to engage discussion between staff and map the current processes. Semi structured interviews were also used to provide further detailed understanding behind the maps. Secondary quantitative data from both schools was collected to provide some objective data against the perceptions of staff.
The SIPOC analysis focused on the grade prediction work stream and notably there was little standardisation between schools or indeed within schools, of the method employed to predict students grades. It was evident in both schools that the predictions were not always accurate and not all predictions were made in a timely fashion by staff. There was some evidence of an ad hoc approach to utilisation of process management techniques and for one of the participating schools there was clear use of visual management techniques for both managing and tracking data. Visual management was also used for directly adding value to the learning experience for both pastoral and academic service.
Areas identified that currently do not follow lean practice included; non-standardised processes, repeated mistakes, interruptions, batching of work, workplace organisation, customer specific outputs, knowledge management and visual management. Opportunities for implementation of process improvement techniques such as lean and/or six sigma were identified and successful implementation would give great benefit to the schools, not only freeing up resources within the schools but also directly assisting the teacher’s role in supporting the pupils.