Working to meet the standards laid down by Investors in People (IIP) is an effective way of raising standards and improving staff morale, argues former head Roger Smith.

Walk through any town or city and you will see the Investors in People (IIP) logo mounted on plaques outside a huge range of employers’ premises. It means that they have achieved a nationally recognised standard of good practice for the training and development of their staff. All schools should be aspiring to sport this logo. IIP uses a planned approach to setting and communicating targets and objectives and developing people and is based on three main principles:

  • Planning – to develop strategies to improve performance.
  • Doing – to take action to improve performance.
  • Reviewing – to monitor and evaluate the impact of the actions that have been taken.

It is easy to relate these principles to all our schools and heads will recognise that even if they haven’t considered it before, working towards and achieving Investors in People can help raise standards, as well as improve the morale of both teachers and support staff.

Important and relevant

There is widespread report for IIP across many educational institutions. The DfES has recommended it as an important tool for school improvement for nearly 17 years and according to the department, 6,867 primary schools have used the IIP standards as part of their school improvement agenda and are now boasting the IIP badge.

By using the IIP standards we could all achieve:

  • a more structured approach to staff development by linking school targets with the strengths of specific staff
  • greater effectiveness in meeting training and professional development – matching them to school targets and objectives and sharing good practice
  • greater motivation of teachers and support staff
  • more effective use of people as resources.

This is a formidable list of possible achievements and more information can be found in the IIP publication, Measure your Improvements – Investors in People in Schools and Colleges.

There should almost certainly be a natural fit between the ethos of your school and what you have to do in terms of pupil achievement, targets and staff development and what the IIP standards can help you achieve. But even if you remain unconvinced, consider the fact that the IIP standards bring together all the school’s stakeholders including, teachers, support staff, governors and parents. They address the whole of your school community and at the same time recognise that teaching, learning and staff development are at the heart of what we are trying to do.

The IIP standard can provide a framework that will help you develop by:

  • defining a clearly understood strategy for improving performance
  • planning how to achieve the necessary targets and objectives
  • providing appropriate professional development opportunities related to what the school needs to achieve
  • defining and developing what both teachers and non-teachers need to do to develop and use their skills
  • recognising and valuing the contribution each member of staff makes to the success of the school
  • involving staff in decision making and encouraging them to take ownership and responsibility.

What’s in it for me?

IIP can be a useful tool to tackle the ongoing problem of teacher recruitment and retention. By creating better communication channels all staff, both teaching and non-teaching,will have a clearer understanding of their role within the school and how they can contribute to its successes. This will lead to an increase in motivation and morale, which in turn should lead to better retention.

People are a school’s greatest asset and the IIP standard offers a framework to improve the way you work with them. The 10 individual standards you will be assessed against are:

  1. Your overall strategy [such as your SEF or SIDP].
  2. Your learning and development strategy [eg your teaching and learning policy].
  3. Your people management strategy.
  4. Leadership and management strategy.
  5. Management effectiveness.
  6. How staff are rewarded and their achievements recognised [a motivated staff will work much more effectively].
  7. The involvement and empowerment of staff [eg how are decisions taken and whether staff lead from the middle].
  8. The actual learning and development [you will know a lot about how good this is from your test results].
  9. Performance management.
  10. Continuous improvement.

The standards can be met in most schools. IIP is there to improve the way you work, while recognising that you will want to meet the standards in your own way.

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