The Visitatie; a new structure for an old school
2016 – The Visitatie is a school for Secondary Education in Mariakerke, Belgium. Since 2012 the school participates in the project Innovative Labour Organisation of Flandres Synergy (FS). About this case an article is written in the FS Members Magazine: ‘Een nieuwe structuur voor een oude school. (A new structure for an old school)’. Below this article is summarized.
The school introduces a new organizational structure based on the principles of the Innovative Labour Organisation. 6 Interdisciplinary teams of teachers, supportive – and accompanying personnel (8 to 15 people) will coach a group of students as long as possible. Two of these teams are responsible for the first degree program of two years and four for the various vocational training programs of the four next years (letters, numbers, retail, office). They also carry out expertise roles (evaluation or care, for example.) and line roles (such as planning or budget). There are three more teams: a supporting – a pedagogical – and a management team. There is an organisation-wide meeting with a rotating representation of the teams. Previously, there were disciplinary teams of teachers and teams of support staff and working groups for the intersecting issues.
Before the renovation things did not went well at the school. There were many exclusions, many behavioral problems among the students and for many teachers the workload was too high. With the arrival of a new director, there was a new wind blowing. The school started to participate in the Flandres Synergy project in order to find a new approach.
The first step was the formulation of a vision. A group of volunteers from the staff was formed. The order to formulate a vision was not easy; they needed about two years. But now there is a vision that is supported by the entire staff.
The second step was the construction of a new team structure. The first new concept with teams based on degrees (1st, 2nd and 3rd degree of two years each) was tested in the 2014-2015 school year. It was evaluated as not eligible. Various control tasks were not delegated and a number of working groups remained in place. That caused rather more than less work.
A second structure was introduced in the school year 2015-2016. Now all control and expertise tasks are delegated and there are no working teams anymore.
The involvement of teachers in school policy has increased enormously. The bond between colleagues has been strengthened, and this also applies to the bond of teachers and coaches with the students. There are almost no more exclusions and much less C levels (that is a failed year for the student).
Formulating a shared vision is a difficult and time consuming, but necessary first step. It has proved difficult to motivate people to take the responsibility for additional roles. This requires time and many workshops.
Case Visitatie. ‘Een nieuwe structuur voor een oude school’. In: Flandres Synergy’s Member Magazine – Number 7 – September 2016. The article is attached.