Scrum tactics at Oriel Academy! Teachers taught technique used by multinational companies to streamline workloads
In industries across the private sector, Scrum and Agile approaches to project management have transformed the efficiency of the workplace.
Amisha Khaira, a teacher at Oriel Academy West London, noticed this on her placement year at PwC, a multinational professional services company in London, and wanted to explore the possibility of bringing Scrum techniques back with her to the education sector upon her return.
The training session was the first one that Scrum Masters and key facilitators Isher Bamrah and Oscar Styf had delivered to a group of teachers.
“Scrum methodology is a streamlined method of planning, performing and reflecting on the daily successes that eventually result in the culmination of a project or an ongoing process of improvement – which is aptly very similar to what we do as educators.
“The education system is constantly being updated and changed. If we find a way to use this methodology to make sense of these changes and do this in a way that is efficient, we would save a huge amount of time and energy in minimising admin, instead directing our energies towards ensuring better outcomes for pupils and their learning” Amisha said.
The purpose of the workshop held at Oriel Academy earlier this month was designed to introduce Scrum methodologies to teachers, who could then pass on the techniques to students, who could utilise this in their own projects.
Another purpose of the workshop, however, was to outline the ways in which teachers can better organise their own workloads: “Adopting scrum methodology will reduce duplication of effort, clarify communication and understanding between teams, increase accountability as responsibilities will be identified by team members and increase collaborations within teams” Amisha said.
Her colleague, Kirsty D’Cruz, who teaches a Reception class at Oriel Academy, said that: “the workshop was really helpful and easy to understand as they used a hands-on approach to get the team members talking to each other.
“Going forward, I am excited to use some of the techniques that we learned, particularly in organising problems that arise in my workload, as I have a better understanding of drawing ideas together to build a bigger picture in a team of reflective practitioners.”
Reflecting on her own experiences, Amisha recalls the ways in which Scrum was a successful technique in her placement year at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“At PwC, I worked on the implementation of a Treasury Management system at a multinational oil and gas company. The approach used there was more of a waterfall approach to managing the project, however I could see the benefit of having clear delivery dates, specifically assigned roles, key milestones agreed in advance and a systematic way of logging progress.
“All of these aspects are very much in parallel with the ways in which school projects can be managed, and after getting in touch with another colleague interested in bringing a project management methodology into schools, we discussed how other successful models of Scrum have worked at college level (see examples from the Netherlands) and how we could trial it here at primary level.”
Isher Bamrah and Oscar Styf, Scrum Masters and facilitators of the methodology, and who delivered the workshop to the Oriel Academy teachers, discussed the significance of not only applying Scrum methods to teaching staff, but also to students, as they hope to capitalise on the correlation between the tech world and the problems that may arise within education.
“Scrum works because it deals with complex problem solving. The one thing that we know about learning is that it is, in itself, a complex problem” Oscar said.
“Something that always helps is making work more transparent. People enjoy work better by breaking things down and making the bigger tasks more achievable; if you start small, you are able to see the progress made a lot more clearly” Isher added.
The workshop saw the facilitators dividing the Oriel team into two, and encouraging the team members to talk about their work days and problems that arose. Discussing problems and how to overcome these problems/obstacles increase the levels of communication between staff, and they were able to devise solutions collaboratively.
The technique of simplifying projects is particularly relevant for academies that are a part of the Aspirations Academies Trust, as the unique ‘No Limits’ curriculum focusses on project-based interdisciplinary learning. Taking influence from Scrum methodology at a primary level will equip students with the vital skills of working in a project-based group, which they will need later in their academic careers.