When Silo Working Is Healthy

The senior leadership team (SLT) of any organisation want their team to work as a team and collaborate.

They work hard at bringing diverse personalities together and hope that they gel. In a school environment, an effective team feeds the health of the school. They want to create a unified vision with everyone working towards a common goal.

One of the key levers to making things work is the integration and cooperation between departments and key stages.

What SLTs don’t like are steel-reinforced concrete silos where people pull down the portcullis and then close the shutters; self-imposed silo working is seen as bad for the organisation and the individual.

But that’s not always true. Sometimes, everyone needs to retreat into their own cave and just do what they need to do to stay sane. Silo working can be healthy so long as people don’t stay in their shells for too long.

Teachers need a breather from others and that means retreating. They can emerge from some splendid seclusion refreshed and better for it.

Demonising silo working isn’t helping because we are making people feel like they should be spending every spare minute in the staffroom or socialising.

And so what if KS1 and KS2 are working independently to each other and not meeting up every five minutes – they are the experts in their own key stages so let them work in their silos. They can still be connected so long as the path length between them isn’t too long.

Rather then sapping morale, stunting productivity and creating organisational dysfunction, silo working can achieve the opposite.

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