Do you have a clear understanding of the founding principles of good administrative practice?
Without wishing to sound unkind – I doubt it. Most teachers don’t and I include myself in that.
Teacher training doesn’t cover it (along with so many other things that would actually be useful to teachers in a classroom) and neither does school-based professional development. I know very few office based staff in a school that have even heard of the principles of good administration.
Yet, a school community need to know what good and bad administrative practice looks like and how we can do a better job.
These core ‘compass’ principles have been described as deceptively simple, so simple in fact that they are not widely known or executed in schools which is puzzling.
Good administration by public bodies means:
- Getting it right
- Being customer focused
- Being open and accountable
- Acting fairly and proportionately
- Putting things right
- Seeking continuous improvement
1. Getting it right
- Following the law and taking the rights of those concerned into account
- Following the organisation’s policy and guidance
- Taking proper account of established good practice
- Providing effective services, using appropriately trained and competent staff
- Taking reasonable, timely decisions, based on all relevant considerations
2. Being customer focused
- Ensuring people can access services easily, including those needing reasonable adjustments
- Informing service users what they can expect and what the organisation expects of them
- Keeping to commitments, including any published service standards
- Dealing with people helpfully, promptly and sensitively, taking account of their individual circumstances
- Responding to service users’ needs flexibly and, where appropriate, coordinating a response with other service providers
- Recognising and respecting the diversity of service users and adopting an inclusive approach
3. Being open and accountable
- Being open and clear about policies and procedures and ensuring information, and any advice provided, is clear, accurate and complete
- Stating the criteria for decision making and giving reasons for decisions
- Handling information properly and appropriately
- Keeping proper and appropriate records
- Taking responsibility for actions
4. Acting fairly and proportionately
- Being impartial and treating people with respect and courtesy
- Treating people without unlawful discrimination or prejudice, and ensuring no conflict of interests
- Dealing with people and issues objectively and consistently
- Ensuring decisions and actions are proportionate, appropriate and fair
5. Putting things right
- Acknowledging mistakes and apologising where appropriate
- Putting mistakes right quickly and effectively
- Providing clear and timely information on how and when to appeal or complain
- Operating an effective complaints procedure, which includes offering a fair and appropriate remedy when a complaint is upheld
6. Seeking continuous improvement
- Reviewing policies and procedures regularly to ensure they are effective
- Asking for feedback and using it to improve services and performance
- Ensuring the organisation learns lessons from complaints and uses them to improve services and performance
These core principles all relate to school life and although we don’t have ‘customers’ (unless you see that in a different light working in an independent setting that is) they support the evaluation of how we do things and are instrumental in improving the teaching-learning process.