Sir Dan Moynihan avoids getting into direct comparisons between schools and hospitals, and by following his lead I’ve marked his interview with far more ticks than crosses
I like the clarity of his vision (although, for me, it lacks warmth). His strong focus on leadership and management - and the need for longevity in leaders - one senses is lived in these schools, and not - as it is too much in the NHS - just talked about.
I also like the attention on the performance and quality of individual teachers - a good lesson for the NHS, where we worry most about staff numbers.
- Read more from HSJ’s series of interviews about delivering lasting change within the NHS
- Lessons from a school master
- How Sir Dan Moynihan’s stance on bad behaviour could work in the NHS
I want to know more about the time, coaching and expertise invested in helping people to improve. The case for performance pay, however, is not made - Sir Dan’s schools appear to have achieved fantastic results without it.
‘“Harris in a box” - a set of common corporate policies - is a great concept. “NHS in a box” would be a great borrow’
Sir Dan hits the nail on the head when he says “one of the things to get right is the balance between central control and local control”. The failure to do this has been the hallmark of NHS system reform and of life inside many providers, too. Hospital chain makers, take note.
On this theme, “Harris in a box” - a set of common corporate policies - is a great concept. “NHS in a box” would be a great borrow. (Carry On Agenda for Change!) Well paid clinicians and managers don’t want freedom over everything but over the decisions that matter most in their area of work.
What’s missing? Staff engagement and well-being, and the link with quality care, would be prominent in an interview with an NHS counterpart. I want to know what a hugely diverse staff (and their representatives) think about working lives and quality.
An NHS counterpart would also discuss the importance of partnership working within organisations, and between organisations and sectors. So much change - in accident and emergency or seven day working, for example - is impossible without it.
And there would be a different take on opposition to change. I’ve no doubt that the Harris Federation gets a walloping from opponents to its changes.
But it can also count on heavy duty, sustained political support. Compare and contrast with health bosses, endlessly undermined by politicians fearful of the electoral consequences of their own wishes.
Overall, Sir Dan’s example reinforces my view that, if we want real change and improvement, vision, leadership, management and staff engagement all trump structural change.
Jon Restell is chief executive of Managers in Partnership.
Lessons from a school master
- Currently reading
Marks out of 10 for Sir Dan Moynihan