Friday 11 July 2014

iAbacus is 10 years old

iAbacus the unique approach to School Improvement: self evaluation and action planning for everyone is 10 years old.

It's been hard work over the last 10 years* Can I reflect a little?  

Happy Birthday to us...

It's heart-warming to receive congratulations from users of the iAbacus on our 10th birthday! I'd still love to hear from you if you're using one of the real abacuses I made - In Sheffield, Hundred of Hoo and Nottinghamshire perhaps....

Where are you now?

You may be drawing dots on paper - Jenny and staff at All Saints, in South Wigston Leicester?  Or, are you still sticking boiled sweets onto a flipchart - North Lincolnshire SNIMPS Consortium?  I don't really mind but you will are missing the built in criteria of the on-line model - hint hint....

Maybe you progressed on-line with us in 2012.  If so, you're joining hundreds of users across the UK, and as far afield as Zimbabwe, Dubai and China.... and can be bolstered by our recent award for support to Leadership and Management

You users have one or two things in common

I'll bet you, like all our early users, love the visual and kinaesthetic way we get you to make judgements, justify them, analyse what is helping and hindering and then, most importantly plan for progress. As our first head Lisa in Stoke said, "It's deceptively simple".

You'll also share our view that starting from the professional's view of themselves is empowering because it builds the capacity of the workforce - their skills, knowledge and understanding.

I reckon the iAbacus is also becoming an established model for school improvement for you and your staff because you tell us it is collaborative, encourages team-working and interdependence.  

I don't like being negative so I'll be realistic. Many of you come to use because you tell me that Ofsted gets in the way because having teachers respond to an absent inspector's judgement diminishes their professionalism, is invariably dis-enabling, often frustrating and anti-learning.  That's why you chose the iAbacus - as Joe said at the very start, "We now get our revenge in first!" It starts with people and moves on to evidence NOT the other way round.

You also tell us that boring administration systems, that are little more than electronic filing cabinets of examination data, spew out over complex scatter graphs to bewilder your colleagues.  You do get over-awed with too much detail.  Who said," Just because a computer can doesn't mean it should".  I love it when Stuart quotes back at me, "Keep it simple, it will get complicated anyway. Start complicated and you don't stand a chance" 
Yes, Dan and I have spent hours taking out complexity in iAbacus..

At the very start you just used our “overall school” focuses but then you began contacting us with ideas for new templates. We loved that  So, we've rolled out our deceptively simple process, approach and format for Whole School Self-Evaluation to a whole raft of  templates - there are now 40+ available to all users.  Now Subject Leaders are using our expanding our range of focuses for the iAbacus process 

Expect more - keep reading your drop down menu of templates to see what's appearing
I hope you’ll have learnt, at iAbacus, that we care about how we help you.  We value your judgement - the professional perspective - and want to work from where you are. Be reassured, we’ll jealously guard the information you input - beware of systems that allow others to see what you enter....

And now you are writing for us

See our latest from Jasbir Mann related to Pupil Premium here  


Yes, we want iAbacus to an ethical, collaborative and CPD based approach to self improvement. We start with the professional and move onto evidence NOT the other way round.

If they want to find out more ask them to come to  where they’ll find articles, testimonials, videos and crucially the theory and research behind this unique approach to School Improvement or read and download Gerald Haigh's Review here 

So, if you know of someone else who is tired of bureaucratic, top down, boring, electronic filing cabinets of data hungry admin. systems – tell them WHY we do, WHAT  we do and HOW we do it so well.

* The idea came to me in Westfield School Sheffield in June 2004