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Comenius 2000 - English

2002. december 3.
Education in Hungary faces significant tasks in the coming years. The place and role of Hungary in the new, continuously enlarging Europe depends on the adequate solution of these tasks. It depends decisively on the quality of education whether we only formally join Europe, or succeed in catching up with the wealthy countries of the continent in respect to the quality of life as well.

PREFACE

Copyright Statement>>

Education in Hungary faces significant tasks in the coming years. The place and role of Hungary in the new, continuously enlarging Europe depends on the adequate solution of these tasks. It depends decisively on the quality of education whether we only formally join Europe, or succeed in catching up with the wealthy countries of the continent in respect to the quality of life as well. There are substantial social differences not only between Hungary and the developed states, but inside our borders, too. Social strata and groups in a constantly adverse or even definitely bad situation can be found practically everywhere. It is the priority task of the minister of education to create and provide the opportunity for each small child and pupil to participate in quality education. To bring opportunities closer is primarily the task of the school education and the secondary vocational education, hence we have created the legal conditions for quality development and improvement first in this field.

In 1999 the Hungarian Parliament amended the Act on School Education in order to improve the quality of education and guarantee its standards. The quality improvement policy of the Ministry of Education is based on three pillars, namely: strengthening the role of the state in the field of financing, supplementing the regulation of content by framework curricula, and developing a national system of assessment / evaluation, inspection / control and quality assurance. As part of the latter, the COMENIUS 2000 Programme for Quality Improvement in School Education has been developed and launched.

Our objective is to complete the modernisation of the content of education and the control of changes implemented in the structure of schooling in a reassuring way. Harmony between teaching and education should be strengthened, school education should be able to satisfy on a high levelthe needs and demands for the acquisition of useful and applicable knowledge. To achieve this, from time to time we have to obtain a picture on the results of the work done, on the general condition of the system of education, on the effectiveness of the processes both within the institutional system and in the broader society.

Assessment and quality improvement are in the interest of all players within school education. It is important both for the state and the maintainers, who decide upon the allocation and utilisation of public funds. It is similarly important for the teachers who can get professional assistance to carry out and continuously improve their daily work. Educational institutions opening up in this way, allow also for the parents to get acquainted with the performance of the kindergartens, schools and hostels, as well as to spell out their demands.

It is the basic precondition for the introduction of the quality improvement programme, elaborated by the Ministry of Education, that there should be a broad-based dialogue on the concept of quality and the instruments to be used for its improvement. We are proceeding along an unwritten path; there is no experience in the field of education that could be applied unchanged. Methods used in the industry or in other countries for quality improvement cannot be adapted directly and no attempt should be made to do so either.

The programme for quality improvement in education is something that arches over several cycles of government, the development of the dialogue among the partners - pupils, parents, teachers, maintainers - is an indispensable precondition of its continuity. The Ministry of Education wishes to encourage and support the development of this dialogue. One of the tools is the present Manual, the content of which will necessarily be enriched with the progress of the programme and by incorporating the experiences gained.

Hungary is the first to embark on the realisation of a broad programme of quality improvement, comprising the education system as a whole. On behalf of my associates and myself I wish to thank you for being our companions in this work. I kindly ask you to continue to be each other's and our partners, to co-operate with us and to support us so that the planned progress in the field of education could be achieved.

Zoltán Pokorni

Minister of Education

THE

COMENIUS 2000

PROGRAMME FOR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT IN SCHOOL EDUCATION

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

Budapest, 1999

INTRODUCTION

The provision of guidance, promotion and support to the quality improvement activities of the public educational institutions and their maintainers occupies a prominent place in the strategy of the Ministry of Education. The COMENIUS 2000 Programme Management Unit (PMU) guarantees the institutional background to this work. The task of the Programme Management Unit is to create the professional background for quality improvement, to develop the models to be recommended to the public educational institutions and their maintainers, to co-ordinate and organise the work of the participants of the programme, to direct the implementation activities as well as to develop and improve the necessary supporting system. The Programme Management Unit also organises training courses, professional forums, conferences and forums for the exchange of experience within the framework of this supporting system.

One of the most important elements in the professional support is the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Manual now in your hands. This book is considered as a useful guide for the public educational institutions and their maintainers as well as for the consultants assisting kindergartens, schools and hostels in their quality improvement work. The Manual describes the COMENIUS 2000 Programme for Quality Improvement in School Education as a whole as well as the institutional and maintainer's models, the system descriptions serving as a basis for quality improvement, and also provides methodological guidance to the practical work.

The success of the quality improvement programme is largely based on the co-operation among the teachers, maintainers, and representatives of the quality profession. This is why we consider the collection and summing up of the experiences gained in the course of programme implementation as an outstanding task of the Programme Management Unit. In the result of this work, this Quality Improvement Manual will continuously be enlarged and enriched.

COMENIUS 2000 PMU

QUALITY IN FOCUS - THE EDUCATION POLICY OF QUALITY IMPROVEMENT

The decade after the change of the political system will enter the history of the Hungarian school education as the age of change. The process of development, which started in the 80s, has acquired a new content in the unfolding democracy from the 1990s. The maintainers of the majority of kindergartens, schools and hostels are the freely elected local governments, the legal conditions for enforcement of the interests of the users (customers) of the institutions have been created, the framework of the regulation of content has been developed, and a system of accredited teacher training established.

The direction and effectiveness of the above changes is questionable; in many fields the experiences gained so far have already marked the direction of the changes needed. At the same time - and going beyond it - the past ten years have left a number of professional issues unsettled. Among them there is the measurement, assessment / evaluation and inspection / control of the professional work carried out in the educational establishments, as well as the issue of assuring and improving quality on a continuous basis.

In the 80s the traditional institutional system, the school inspectorate, performing the external control and assessment of kindergartens and schools, was abolished in school education. Parallel to this, the conscious and regular internal assessment and control were pushed into the background in the significant part of the public educational institutions. Disregarding a few assessments carried out on national level (IEA, Monitor), the regular external assessment / evaluation of the professional work was also terminated.

This condition may justly provoke the dissatisfaction of parents, pupils, maintainers and partner establishments. The teachers, who would like to get professionally well-founded feedback about the efficiency and quality of their work, are also dissatisfied.

School education is a public service, and as such, expectations towards its effectiveness are natural. The state, representing its citizens, rightfully expects an efficient utilisation of the public funds, collected as the taxpayers' money. Education is one of the most significant items of public expenditure; hence resources spent on it can be increased in the long run only if the efficient utilisation of those resources, guaranteeing high quality, can be assured. For this purpose it is indispensable to develop a system, which is capable to regularly indicate the changes in performance.

At the turn of the millennium we must renounce all nostalgia that hopes for an effective inspection / control, assessment and continuous improvement of the professional work by the restoration of the central system of school inspectorate. A new system is required, which is of positive, corroborating and developing character.

Raising quality improvement to the level of the fundamental goals of the Government's education policy is a significant step for the development of the Hungarian education. Quality improvement may become a decisive principle, comprising the entire education policy, and determining numerous other elements of this policy in the coming years. An interpretation of quality, acceptable to various professional approaches, can be formulated only if the implementation of quality improvement is linked to a sufficiently broad and differentiated set of goals and instruments. A further precondition for the implementation of quality improvement is the emergence of a broad-based public dialogue on the concept of quality as well as on the possible tools to be used in the field of quality assurance and quality improvement.

The Ministry of Education wishes to create a helping and stimulating environment - through its education policy of quality improvement -, which helps the public educational institutions to focus their work on the needs and expectations of their partners, within a predictable framework.

The problems of quality assurance can be arranged around the following questions:

  • How can the enforcement of the commonly created regulators, of the rule of law be controlled in the field of school education?

  • How can the effectiveness and efficiency of the professional work be evaluated in education in the way that it assists both the development of the institutions as well as the information of their (local and sector level) management?

  • How can the continuous improvement of the internal work of the school establishments be ensured?

  • How can the competency of the local education management be developed and improved?

On the basis of proper answers given to these questions the desirable goals, spelt out in the Government Programme and summarised below, can be attained:

  • To provide the opportunity of having access to kindergarten care, school education, secondary vocational education and higher education of guaranteed quality, ensuring the chances of advancement, to every child and youth, irrespective of their place of residence and the financial situation of their parents.

  • To make the standard and efficiency of the educational work in kindergartens, schools, establishments of secondary vocational education and higher education visible to the young people, the parents, the maintainers (mainly local communities) and to the central management of education.

  • To improve the quality of the professional work of local governments maintaining schools and kindergartens and to ensure the competency of the local education management.

  • To enhance the flexibility of the structure of education / training and its orientation towards the labour market in the secondary vocational education.

In order to realise these goals, the Ministry of Education develops models of quality management and improvement, adapted to the specific features of the educational field, and aims at the continuous dissemination of these models. As the first pilot model, the Ministry of Education has developed and launched the COMENIUS 2000 Programme for Quality Improvement in School Education with the participation of kindergartens (pre-primary), primary and secondary schools (including schools of secondary vocational education, too) and hostels. The models of the Programme are based on the international and national expertise and experiences of quality management and quality improvement, but also apply a set of requirements and instruments corresponding exclusively to the special, unique and human servicing nature of education and teaching.

Parallel to this work the elaboration of the concept of a multi-tiered system of assessment and control has also begun. The COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education and the system of assessment and control jointly create the possibilities for progressing, moving ahead. The system of assessment and control would become a mere 'inspection-type activity' without the possibility to improve quality, as there would be no breeding ground for launching changes internally. At the same time, internal improvement cannot survive without the feedback of the external results and satisfaction, as it is facing achievements, which offer a possibility to every organisation to improve internal work and to win external appreciation.

Naturally, the quality improvement programme of education cannot be limited exclusively to the area of the school education and the secondary vocational education; it should be extended over the higher education as well. The Hungarian higher education of the future should serve the advancement of the individual as well as of the entire society, and the raise of the international competitiveness of the country. Hungarian universities and colleges can perform this task if they make judicious use of the available human resources, if they honour their eminent teachers and are able to transfer the knowledge accumulated within their walls most effectively to everyone. Consequently, they have to put their professional activities in the service of raising the quality of education / training, and when they plan their education / training offer, they have to base it primarily on the needs of their partners.

The tasks of the labour market and of creating social opportunities, the preservation of national and regional cultural traditions, the demands of a competitive economy, the challenges of the information society have made it necessary to focus attention on the quality of education all over the world. An increasing number of countries consider resources spent on education as an investment, while at the same time they expect the return of these investments to be identifiable. Hungary was among the first who started implementing a comprehensive quality improvement programme, extending over the entire system of education.



INTRODUCTION TO THE THINKING ABOUT

QUALITY IMPROVEMENT

1. What do we think about quality?

2. Who says what quality is?

3. What can be done for quality?

4. About the partner-focused approach

5. Together - on a higher level

6. How to get started with quality improvement?

7. How to work together? About teamwork

8. A new kind of management responsibility

9. How to build on our strengths?

10. How to learn from others and from each other?

11. How does the life of the institution change, once quality improvement has started?



1. What do we think about quality?

Everybody likes if things progress in good order, if he or she feels well in his or her environment. Many people are even ready to do things for this end, while others only express criticism and expectations. No matter which behaviour is chosen, people are involved in the issue of quality.

Everybody has his or her own, often-unpleasant experience about unnecessary waiting time in the doctor's consulting room, or at the post office, or, about work considered unnecessary. The field of education is no exception either.

No parent is happy to hear from his or her child on Thursday afternoon that "we were told today that there would be no classes on Friday". For the parents it means a frantic search for free grandmothers or aunts, and of course, the oppressive sense of "what if no one is free" haunts them. On such occasions, of course, the lunch cannot be cancelled, but there is a possibility for the child to go to school "only for lunch", perhaps from the other end of the city, from the grandparents, or, the money paid in advance is lost. Naturally the school would, in most cases, avert responsibility saying, "we were told at the last minute", or "every class teacher announced it, but the child did not pay attention". It only rarely occurs to the school that the parents should have been informed earlier, or, in a way better suited to the characteristics of the age group of the pupils.

If someone is confronted with such a problem as the suffering side, as the 'customer', usually he or she can easily formulate - beyond dissatisfaction - also proposals for changes. And when there is no answer to the issues raised, the individual may justly feel that his or her problems are not dealt with, that they are unimportant to the organisation providing the service. As experience shows, the same issue is differently assessed if the very same person is involved in the situation as a service provider, as a 'sales assistant'. He or she is inclined to assess the problem as smaller, and the necessity of change as less important.

Those who undertake the modification of such an asymmetrical situation, perform activities of quality improvement and quality management. Change is difficult, as it is not only the need for quality, but also the requirement for safety and security, which determines our behaviour, hence we gladly insist on the established and learned ways of operation, offering a sense of security, even if in fact we are not satisfied with them.

It is easy to consider a problem as non-existent, or to postpone its solution. However, if an organisation wishes to improve the quality of its services - be it healing, the dispatch of letters, education, or any other activity - then these suggestions and recommendations should be taken seriously; in other words, it has to shape its operation corresponding to the demands of its partners. If the organisation is not able or willing to do so, it will have to expect in the short term already that its partners will go and look for the satisfaction of their needs anywhere else.

Education is a service, which is used by everyone; moreover, in a certain period of a person's life it is not only a possibility, but also a legal obligation. Therefore not a single institution of public education can evade the issue of quality. The situation of kindergartens, schools and hostels is a special one also because the adverse demographic changes of the past decade, the maintenance of institutions transferred into the hands of several actors, and the possibility of a free choice of institution jointly have produced a competitive situation, which cannot be disregarded by the public educational institutions when they develop their operation.

What does 'quality' mean? How can it be defined? There are a number of definitions in the literature on quality, which, however, have several common elements. All definitions stress that the service provider has to define quality

  • On the basis of the broadly interpreted demands of the partners,

  • Independently, in line with the operation of the organisation in question,

  • In relation to the organisation of the service and to the commitment of the service providers, and

  • With keeping in mind the requirement of its continuous re-interpretation and improvement.

Another dimension of quality is when it is not only the quality of the given service, which is being investigated, but also what the given organisation should do in order to ensure that its services really meet the needs of the partners. In this case the institution concentrates on the internal procedures of its operation, and reviews the basic issues of its quality management system.

2. Who says what quality is?

The first step in the improvement of quality is to get acquainted with the demands of the partners (interested parties /stakeholders/, customers). For this purpose a survey has to be made assessing who or which groups are the partners of the service-providing organisation in question (kindergarten, school or hostel).

Literature on quality traditionally differentiates between 'internal' and 'external' partners, depending on whether those concerned are to be found inside, or outside the organisation. The application of these categories for school education is clumsy, as the parents, for instance, are not members of a kindergarten, or school, yet they can be considered more as 'internal' than 'external' partners.

Naturally, also in the field of public education the partners should be grouped on the basis of the closeness of their contact with the institution. But a more precise classification - which is more sensitive to the specific features of the sector -, can be obtained if one speaks about direct and indirect partners.

The most important direct partners of the kindergarten, school and hostel are the primary actors of the learning and teaching process - children, pupils, teachers and the supporting staff -, as well as the direct commissioners of the institution, namely the parents and the maintainers, who set up expectations to and/or grant resources for the educational establishment. An institution of school education has further direct partners, for example the next level of education, or the labour market (the next stage in the life of the young person), or the direct or potential commissioner of the educational programme offered by the institution.

The indirect partners of the institutions of school education are those who express and/or mediate social and professional demands and expectations towards the institution through some kind of a regulatory system, such as the Parliament, or the Ministry. Further, indirect partners are the institutions who may assist the establishment in achieving its goals by their co-operation, for instance, civil organisations, social, cultural and economic organisations, churches, sport facilities, etc., or, which spell out expectations concerning the process of learning, teaching and educational activities and/or its results. The latter include, among others, the professional organisations, chambers, or employers' organisations, etc.

The most important partner group of an educational and teaching institution is that of the children, the pupils. Treating them as real partners is rather new in the modern education, though their opinion, satisfaction and the changes of their demands may basically determine the future of the institution. The effects of this directly manifest when for instance, the children, the pupils (and their parents) change for another institution because of possible negative experiences, or of the richer education offer of the other institution (kindergarten, school). The groups of children and pupils also influence education policy indirectly by their satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, as their memories, experiences of success and/or failure play an important role in shaping of the image / perception of kindergartens and schools by the society. All these also influence those who take the education-related decisions on national or local level as well as those who 'only' as parents choose an educational institution for their child.

Small children, pupils primarily seek in education for friends, for a good sense of well-being and for tasks, which are meaningful and can be successfully accomplished. Getting acquainted with their demands and incorporating them into the daily practice of the institution should not be primarily done via the pupils' organisations, school democracy and intermediaries operating formally and with uncertain effectiveness; the aim is much more the translation of pupils' considerations, mapped by various methods, into professional language and their application in the daily teaching and educational work.

Another partner group often communicates the demands and satisfaction of small children and pupils towards the institution, which are the parents. The expectations mediated by them are by definition inaccurate, yet they have to be considered as important signals, since the interests of parents and their children are similar in many fields. For instance, particularly in kindergarten and in the lower classes of primary school, where the pressure of the career choice is not yet very strong, the main demand of parents is that their children should study in a safe, secure and pleasant environment, and should enjoy themselves in the institution. Beyond this the basic expectation of the parents is related to the further career of their children: "what will come of my child if I enrol him/her in this institution?" This is particularly true in a competitive society where a conscious choice of institution is one of the decisive preconditions and means of the opportunities for social mobility and advancement.

In case of a kindergarten and primary school it is only the parents who choose the institution. It is impossible to work with good results and to run a successful institution without knowing their demands and without taking these demands into consideration. These two partner groups - children, pupils and their parents - determine the short-term destiny of the institution by deciding where to enrol their children. Since 1993 legislation in the field of school education has created the opportunity for a direct institutional manifestation of children's, pupils' and parents' expectations (kindergarten and school boards), however, at present their utilisation is formal in most places, due to the lack of proper methods and tools.

Further key partners of the institutions are the teaching and the supporting staff. The institution cannot function without them, disregarding their satisfaction may easily lead to counter selection, to emptying of the organisation and to internal conflicts. The process of teaching and education consists of several phases, in keeping with the characteristics of the age group. It partly means a change of the institution, or change(s) taking place within the institution. At the same time several teachers and other associates look after small children and pupils within the individual phases, therefore their conscious co-operation is indispensable; it can be realised via the knowledge and incorporation of specific demands of those phases. Every staff member has a basic expectation for the possibility of having a meaningful and successful work, and the feedback on the results achieved.

One of the most important commissioners of the institutions owned by local governments is the maintaining local government. Today in Hungary this role is manifested in various ways due to the different level of management competencies of local governments, which varies from approaches limiting themselves to the provision of financial resources up to the formulation of professional and operational expectations. In case of the maintainers of the institutions not owned by the state, the picture is just as differentiated: approaches based on a definite set of expectations and low standards of management and supervising competencies can be found as well.

A lot is revealed about the operation of a kindergarten, school and hostel by the opinion of those institutions and organisations where the pupils continue their career, where they pursue their studies, or start to work. The next grade of schooling, or the labour market can help the improvement of the operation of the institutions not only by expressing its opinion, but also by expressing its specific demands. Decades ago the receiving educational institutions had to send a written feedback about the 'competency' of pupils, thus ultimately the quality of the work of the previous grade of school was evaluated. This obligation no longer exists, yet the conscious collection and processing of such feedback continues to be important. Its aim is a joint work of improvement which would facilitate the transition of pupils from one grade of school to another, help them in progressing along their individual path of study, or finding their way in the labour market and entering work.

The most important indirect partner of the institutions of school education is the state (or the government of the day, embodying the state) mediating social expectations. The state defines its demands regarding quality by legislation, administration and sets of professional requirements (National Basic Curriculum, Kindergarten Education Programme, framework curricula, National Qualification Register, requirements of the examination of basic knowledge and of secondary school final examination, etc.). It is the expectations of the state, which guarantee that the interpretation of quality in school education will contain similar elements.

Clearly no single institution can meet all these expectations without fail. There is a need for the conscious processing and summing up of the demands, which are identified. The kindergarten, school and hostel should not meet individual demands, but on the basis of the demands identified the institution should form its own concept of quality serving as a compass. This is not an easy task as the general and local social expectations have to be harmonised with the specific individual demands. This is difficult not only because of the colourfulness and variety of the partners, but because the demands and expectations of the individual partners also change, though with different speed. However, the successful organisations are successful because they are able to create and maintain a dynamic balance between the demands of their partners. In the course of this process they build upon the traditions and strengths of their own institution, which protect them against the uncritical satisfaction of emerging individual demands and against over-hasty steps.

3. What can be done for quality?

The majority of the institutions of school education consciously, or unconsciously, already do a great deal for quality. Elements of a partner-focused approach and of the concept of quality can be identified to a greater or lesser extent in the daily practice of kindergartens, schools and hostels. Efforts towards quality, towards surveying and harmonising the demands of the partners can be found in a large number of minute details of the institutional work, though in a fragmented and individual way. Kindergartens and schools, writing their programme on their own, elaborating tests and internal procedures of examination for each class and operating a system of assessment are examples of efforts towards quality.



The existence or lack of partner-focused thinking can clearly be observed in the way the school organises its work, for instance, when the timetable is planned. The timetable has to meet the demands of several partners simultaneously:

  • The relevant basic requirements are laid down by legal norms (maximum number of lessons per week and day, the length of lessons, etc.);

  • Pupils and parents expect a relatively even load (the distribution of easier and more difficult lessons requiring more preparation, should be even);

  • The teachers express partly professional and partly individual demands (diversity in subjects, study groups, even or concentrated load, offering an opportunity for self-development among others, or the beginning of working hours early or late);

  • The maintainer expects the organisation of work at school (number of lessons per week, proportion of overwork, substitution, group distribution, proportion of teachers and pupils, etc.) to be economically efficient.

The majority of institutions are aware of these demands; moreover, they acknowledge their justification and rightfulness. Yet it happens only too often that the demands of one or another partner are not asserted: in some places legal regulations are not respected, elsewhere the demands of pupils, parents or of the teachers are lost from sight.

A precise exploration of the demands and satisfaction of the partners is needed to enable the kindergarten, school and hostel to bring its operation closer to their wishes. If the proper tools and methods, adjusted to the specific features of the different partner groups, are missing, such an approximation can only result in incidental and inaccurate results. Different methods may be successful in measuring the stated and implied needs and the related satisfaction of the parents, small children, pupils, or of the maintainers.

It is difficult to measure the demands and the opinion of the children and pupils. Many people think that it is not worth doing so, as only inaccurate and distorted results can be obtained because of the characteristics of the age group, whereas others are of the view that the institutionalised forums, such as school boards, pupils' parliament, calling hours, etc. are the best suited for surveying the pupils' expectations. Not doubting that experiences and results of measurements promoting decisions can be collected at these forums, it is important that the institution should develop more refined tools to measure the children's and pupils' demands and satisfaction. Simple questionnaires, small group discussions can be such tools, or the observation of indirect indicators which indicate whether the pupils participate willingly and actively, or, on the contrary, unwillingly and passively in the compulsory and optional programmes of the school.

In the case of parents, surveys by questionnaire can be used just as well as parents' forums, or asking parents who participate in the work of the school boards. However, the comparability of the results of measurements made at different points in time requires a conscious selection of the timing and frequency of measurement, together with the methods chosen. It may depend on the nature of the institution, its competitive position, on the size of the community / settlement and on a number of other factors. The composition of the sample should also be designed and defined, as probably it is not possible to get acquainted with the opinion of each parent, but it is important to obtain precise results, which should be as close as possible to the result that would be obtained in an imaginary situation where the opinions of all the parents are known. It should also be decided whether it is enough to get acquainted with the demands of those parents whose children already attend the institution, or it is worth obtaining a picture of the expectations of those as well, who will decide one or two years later where to enrol their children. (In the latter case one may speak about proactive behaviour.)

The demands of the staff members, both teachers and supporting staff, are partly known, and are usually laid down objectively. Yet it does not necessarily mean that the institutions and their headmasters have a precise picture about the demands or satisfaction of their associates. Usually three elements of getting acquainted with the expectations of this partner group require improvement:

  • the way of getting acquainted with the degree of satisfaction (how structured, regular and objective it is);

  • getting acquainted with the priorities of expectations determining satisfaction (what influences the satisfaction and to what extent);

  • mapping the implied (latent), not even pronounced expectations (what is it that the colleagues have not even thought of, yet it increases satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, as the case may be).

Measuring the demands and satisfaction of the associates requires primarily the commitment of their headmasters and the assistance of a few colleagues. The relevant methods are abundantly available. Getting acquainted with the internal satisfaction and implementing on this basis the relevant corrective and improvement actions is one of the decisive factors of the future of the institution, hence it is one of the key tasks of the management of the institution.

The demands and expectations of the maintainers are partly known by the institutions of public education, as the maintainers usually lay them down in decrees, or in other regulating documents. At the same time a significant part of maintainers does not have a strategy outlining points of reference for kindergartens, schools and hostels for a longer period of time. In addition the wording of maintainers' demands is often improvised, loaded by daily economic, or political interests. Yet the maintainer often expects an immediate adjustment to these demands, hence accommodating these demands with the expectations of other partners often meets difficulties and leads to conflict. At the same time the institutions have very little information on the maintainer's satisfaction despite the fact that their fate and operation depend decisively on it.

The large number of partners of the public educational institutions does not permit becoming acquainted directly with the demands and satisfaction of all of them. Therefore they should strive to get acquainted with partners' satisfaction not only with the help of methods based on direct questioning, but they should also use the so-called indirect indicators as well, which can be obtained from other sources of information. Such a source may be the popularity of the institution, the number of visitors to its various events, changes in the number of parents' complaints, or changes in the indicators of further education, or employment.

Measuring and analysing the satisfaction of the partners offer an opportunity for the headmaster of the institution to:

  • position the institution and to elaborate a long-term, well-founded strategy,

  • apply for support from the maintainer in order to implement his/her ideas for improvement based on facts and figures,

  • spend the available resources on the definition of the directions corresponding to the expectations of the partners.

4. About the partner-focused approach

Partnership in focus is a basic value of quality improvement. One of the most serious obstacles in the way of striving to put partners in focus is the recent past of the education. In the period before the change of the political system the education policy did not regard the interested parties in education as partners just as the citizen looking for goods in the shops was not a partner. Though today everybody agrees in the principle that the expectations of partners should be considered seriously, a more profound change in the approach and way of thinking of the institutions is likely to be a slow process.

However, the initiatives of the past years may also give rise to hope. Several institutions have started developing an operation with partners in the focus. This can be explained by the increasingly strong competitive situation, by the appearance of more differentiated partner expectations, but also by the more vigorously expressed intention of the institutions to search for possibilities of being different from others in favourable ways. As a result the influence of the partners of the educational institutions on the activities carried out in kindergartens, schools and hostels will probably continue to grow in the future.

Summing up, it can be stated that partnership in focus is an approach, which promotes the development of the mutual commitment between the educational institution and its partners. Such an approach encourages the institution to get acquainted with the demands of its partners, to mould them into a professional mission, to get information continuously on the realisation of this mission, and to make the necessary corrective actions based on the partners' feedback.

When partnership in focus is discussed, in addition to the change of approach, minor, 'routine' corrections and changes are also important so that the associates participating in quality improvement activities and their partners can feel the favourable consequences. If insufficient emphasis is put on this aspect, the partner-focused approach can be developed only with great difficulty, or the efforts towards it may peter out. The following advice can be given to avoid this:

1. To put the partners in the focus of the operation is important primarily to the educational institutions. There is no such thing as andomniscient' central management, so one can rely most on partners' feedback in the course of the daily work. National requirements offer a framework for activities in kindergartens and schools, but they should be supplemented on the basis of local demands and expectations. One can take the initiative, demand, evaluate, reward and improve on the basis of a solid mission built on partners' demands.

2. The partners have different levels of competence in respect to professional issues. This may even be an advantage, as the strength of the thoughts of those telling their opinion from the 'outside' may derive precisely from not being inhibited by the profession and from having an external overview, while professional opinion ensures that the changes have solid foundations.

3. Partners should not be regarded as people only demanding and expressing expectations. A respected pupil and parent actually become committed to the institution, identifies himself / herself with the jointly formulated goals and so one can rely on his/her support in the future work.

4. The partner-focused operation means a continuous inquiry into the expectations of the various partner groups, moulding and elevating them to become professional goals, which are realised, but it does not mean the immediate and uncritical acceptance of individual demands.

5. Functioning with partners in the focus of attention does not necessarily mean additional work, but it does mean a different approach and conscious operation. Such an approach also means new tasks in the life of the institution, while at the same time it allows for a more rational and effective organisation of the work and the elimination of unnecessary activities.

5. Together - on a higher level

The conscious handling (management) of quality is an instrument for the successful operation of the institutions. For this purpose they should open towards their partners and should consciously strive to get acquainted with and to meet their demands. To a large extent, though not exclusively, this is a task of the headmaster of the institution. It is not worth speaking about quality improvement without the commitment of the headmaster, yet, no matter how extensive the commitment of the headmaster is, the goals set can only be realised with the understanding and helpful support of the entire 'team' of associates, based on clear-cut aims.

If the operation of the kindergarten, school and hostel is studied, innumerable examples of quality approach and quality work can be found. Every honest and well-prepared teacher is able to point out the elements of his/her practice, which indicate his/her efforts towards quality.

In the practice of quality improvement as an approach and technique primarily a single novelty can be identified, namely: this improvement activity should not be done separately by individual teachers, but as an organisation, jointly. No matter how outstanding the output of a single teacher may be, it is insufficient to transform an entire institution. On the other hand, the poor output of a single teacher is able to destroy the work of several months of an entire teaching and supporting staff.

It is a common experience that even partners of eminent institutions, primarily the pupils and parents have an extremely unstable and even varied opinion about the institution. As the satisfaction, or dissatisfaction of partners is based on their individual experiences, no matter how high quality the work of the individual teachers is, the assessment of the institution as a whole is judged by the sum total of the partners' opinions. And no educational institution can leave it to chance.

Education and teaching in kindergarten and school should primarily be built on the close and constant co-operation of the entire teaching staff and not on the outstanding individual performances. Co-operation must be based on self-knowledge, common goals and shared values and, at least partially, on co-ordinated methods. Traditional institutional practice offers little basis for the development of such a goal-oriented co-operation. This can be the task of the quality improvement and quality management activities to be carried out within the institutions.

Some of the elements can already be found in the daily practice, therefore they can be mobilised as resources during the activities improving quality:

  • the majority of institutions have drawn up their teaching and educational programme themselves, and the learning process accompanied by creativity can serve as a starting point for further development / improvement;

  • many institutions participate in professional innovation (school experiments, PHARE and World Bank programmes, self-developing schools, alternative pedagogies, etc.) which aim at the transformation of the entire operation of the institution;

  • even institutions, which have not embarked on special development, are increasingly forced to reconsider their mission and circle of partners.

In comparison to the above initiatives the improvement and management of quality means something new and more in many respects. In the course of quality improvement the partners of the institution and their expectations become unambiguously identifiable. Based on this foundation, institutions embarking on quality management transform their activities so that changes will be felt in the structure of the entire operation of the institution. With the changes initiated they do not target improvement in general, but they embark on the best possible satisfaction of the demands of the identified circle of partners. Changes - unusually - are not exclusively focused on teaching of subjects, though the impact of change will be felt there too. Changes initiated are also of a different nature in the sense that the necessary improvements will be continuously implemented by the institution, which differs to a large extent from the earlier practice of innovation.

Thus the improvement and management of quality is the conscious summing up of the improvement activities already identifiable in the practice of the institutions of public education, which are supplemented with new elements. In the initial phase this task would primarily test the capabilities of the management. According to the experiments with quality improvement done so far in the institutions of public education the success or failure of the participating establishments has been decisively influenced by the commitment of the headmasters to development and improvement. Wherever the headmaster personally identified himself with the idea of working continuously on improvement and resolutely supported the work of the colleagues participating in improvement activities, success was not missing. Wherever this was not the case, mostly only partial success could be accomplished, or the process started was abandoned.

At the same time there is a contradiction among the situation, tasks and possibilities of the headmasters of the public educational institutions, with the exception of some schools run by foundations or privately. Though during the past years the independent system of management training (for the headmasters of the institutions) was established, and there is a broad offer of conferences pertaining to the field, and the distribution of resources earmarked for in-service training has been transferred to the competency of the headmasters, yet a number of problems makes the work of those embarking on quality improvement difficult. The resources supporting this activity are limited; employers' rights can be enforced in practice with difficulty (for instance, dismissal is extremely difficult and costly even if the professional unsuitability is proved). Therefore it is particularly important to review the role, work and task of the headmasters of the institutions in the field of quality improvement, when preparations are made for quality improvement and quality management.

6. How to get started with quality improvement?

The launch of a conscious quality improvement activity cannot be a decision made on the spur of the moment. The preparatory work made by the headmaster of the institution plays a dominant role in the success or failure of the quality improvement programme. Preparations require two kinds of work from the headmaster:

  • carrying out a self-examination and

  • preparing the teaching and supporting staff professionally for the task.

Self-examination by the headmaster, related to the launch of quality improvement within the institution, and preparing the teaching and supporting staff for this task, have to touch upon several areas. It is indispensable to deal with these issues frankly because quality improvement is not a 'panacea', effective by itself, its usefulness and identifiable results go precisely so far as the ability of the headmaster and the teaching and supporting staff will permit it.

What does the institution wish to achieve by launching quality improvement?

The headmaster of an institution can set usually four aims, when quality improvement is launched. The first one is to achieve excellence, corresponding to the mission of the institution, a favourable difference from the environment. The second one is that in the result of quality improvement, the operation of the institution should become more balanced, predictable and user-friendly. The third one is to create an operation, which is suited for the continuous handling and correction of every important professional and operational difficulty without the intervention of the headmaster and without major shocks. Finally, the development of a positive, problem-solving culture can also be set as an aim in the institution.

What are the professional and operational problems, which cannot be solved by the institution or its headmaster by traditional means? What are the major lessons learnt from the earlier institutional undertakings serving renewal?

In the course of the operation of every institution problems emerge which the teaching staff attempts to correct from time to time, but those initiatives keep on failing. However, in other cases one can observe quick and successful answers given to the problems. The secret of success is often the fact that the associates were able to overcome daily practical routine and applied a new (novelty) approach in the interest of finding a solution. During the preparatory activities for the quality improvement work the headmaster of the institution has to point out these problems within the framework of his dialogue with the teaching staff, the causes of former failures and success have to be made visible, too.

What is the role of the headmaster in the handling of the emerging problems and conflicts?

Unforeseeable conflicts inevitably emerge during the process of quality improvement. As a result of the partner-focused approach, the school opens up, the strengths as well as the areas for improvement of the institutions and those of the individual staff members become visible. This situation has to be utilised for handling of the conflicts by the headmaster, so that he can justify the approach indispensable in quality improvement: though the process is oriented towards looking for mistakes, the goal is to correct the faults and not to blame anyone. The headmaster has to represent unambiguously the value that the improvement of the processes is in the common interest of the institution; hence everyone has to participate in this activity.

Who are going to be the allies of the headmaster in this enterprise within the staff? What kind of internal resources can he rely on when launching the quality improvement activities?

Activities related to quality improvement can be successful only if the necessary internal resources are guaranteed, if the teaching staff, or at least a well-defined portion of it, is able and can work as a team for this aim. If the analysis done by the headmaster identifies that the teaching staff works with meagre capacity at every point, or has no shared values, and torn by disputes, then starting with quality improvement should be reconsidered. In this case at first the settling of the internal problems (establishment of shared values, team-building training, minor organisational changes, etc.) may be advisable, but it is also possible that the problems can be traced back precisely to the lack of organisation, the primary cause of conflicts and problems is an uncoordinated wish to change and to do something, which can be channelled and utilised by launching the activities related to quality improvement.



What kind of external help and resources can be expected?

From among the external resources it is the support from the partners, the professional fundaments for the quality improvement activity and the allocation of the necessary resources, which are of primary importance. If an institution starts operating according to a partner-focused approach, it can almost always count on the support of its partners. The creation of the professional and financial background for quality improvement is more difficult. The COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education wishes to offer assistance in the field of creating the professional as well as the financial background for the institutions joining the Programme.

The training background can be ensured within the framework of the in-service teacher training: teachers working in these institutions can participate in accredited extension courses. The conscious schooling of the colleagues interested in quality can create proper conditions for the activities related to quality improvement.

Another element of the professional background, namely the possibility of involving external experts, is also available. In the framework of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme the Ministry of Education publishes the list of the qualified experts and service providers who are entitled to provide consultancy support to the programme. Finally, proper level professional literature, decisive from the point of view of the establishment of the quality improvement programme is also available, part of which has already adapted the most important issues and findings of quality in education.

The third decisive group of external resources comprises the state and maintainers' funds, which allow for the purchase of the necessary training and consultancy work. These funds are supplemented by applications for grants, of which those of the county public benefit foundations for public education already offer resources to encourage the institutions to begin with the quality improvement activities.

Finally, the possibilities of professional dialogue and exchange of experience should also be classified under external resources. One of the means is to visit institutions of public education (or to listen to their experiences), which began quality improvement activities earlier. As the experience shows, nothing offers more authentic information than the colleagues of other institutions undertaking to talk about 'their own experiences'. The forums and self-organisations of quality within education are also becoming increasingly mature. Linking interested colleagues to the 'professional mainstream' of the cause of quality can mean a significant gain.

7. How to work together? About the team-work

Quality improvement can be realised only jointly, it is not the work of isolated individuals, but the common activity of the organisation. The most important task of the headmaster is to involve the staff members in answering the common issues of the institution, in the solution of problems. In order to do this successfully, new working methods and a well functioning teamwork have to be developed and introduced within the institution.

Teamwork should not be confused with the tasks performed in-groups of a limited number of members. Teamwork is understood as an opportunity of organisational and personality development which, if it becomes the generally used method in the kindergarten, school and hostel, presents the participants with the ability and experience to work jointly, and with the atmosphere of striving to achieve consensus. Work becomes more effective with its help, and jointly, by adding up the knowledge of the individuals, better solutions are to be found. This is expressed by the 1+1>2 principle, which also means that two people alone can work with less effectiveness than in co-operation with each other. During the work done jointly learning from each other is possible and becomes natural. The organisation - and the individual as well - obtains a tool, which is well applicable to the solution of its problems and tasks.

The implementation of the tasks is more successful and effective if those who work on them feel them to be their own, and they are committed to the success of what they do. Everybody feels more responsible for solutions when they have participated in elaborating them. Teamwork lays down the fundaments of this commitment and joint responsibility; hence this form of activity offers an important possibility to the headmaster for motivation.

Teamwork is also suited for gathering experiences by the participants about the nature of co-operation; for instance it is recognised that it is not important to emerge victorious from a situation, but what is important is to find and create the possibility of consensus. Subsequently, this kind of thinking can significantly contribute to the improvement of the human relations among the staff-members.

Teamwork improves communication in every field of the institutional relations. As facts and data have to be collected for the solution of problems, a report has to be given about the progress and the achievements have to be made known and disseminated, the information flow improves within the organisation, and the informal channels become formal ones.

Teamwork also helps in using and managing the time in a more effective and efficient way. The joint solution of the tasks accustoms people to respect time frames: now there is that much time allocated and the given task has to be solved within that period. Naturally everybody is aware of the fact that if there were more time left, presumably the given task would be solved better, but they also know that by delay they could easily miss an opportunity, for instance, the deadline of submitting an application. Mistakes resulting from speed can be corrected later, but a missed opportunity never can be brought back.

Not every task can be solved within the framework of the teamwork, but the possible solutions for most of the tasks can be explored more easily and extensively by using this instrument.

The development of the assessment methods and procedures of an institution or the preparation of an educational material can be successful if it is based on the opinion, experiences and advice of others. Naturally, this does not mean that the given document has to be worded jointly, but it does mean that the team would set out points of consideration for the colleague who is writing the draft text, then they would evaluate it jointly, and correct the already existing written material, if necessary. Thus the considerations of economising with time as well as the utilisation of advantages of joint work can be asserted.

8. A new kind of management responsibility

Today the headmasters of the institutions are forced to choose between 'urgent' and 'important' tasks, often to the detriment of the aspect of importance. In the world of constantly dealing with emergencies and of rush there is never enough time left for the analysis and the solution of the real key problems.

In organisations where delegating tasks (empowerment) and operation based on confidence have not yet emerged, it may be a problem that the headmasters do not participate in the work of development teams. What will be the ultimate outcome of the joint work? How can the 'initiative from the bottom' be managed, which in this case is more than the usual heap of ideas, after all it is based on hard work of several months and on asking the partners. What happens if the cost of the professional, process control related proposals couldn't be covered by the budget of the institution?

Some of the questions emerging express rightful anxiety, and a headmaster, well prepared and well read in literature on quality has to give simple, practical and reassuring answers to them before work on quality improvement starts.

Managerial adulthood, in every modern organisation, starts with the realisation that the headmaster is unable to perform every important task alone, and that the working hours are not unlimited: a conscientious daily administration itself would abundantly fill the 8-10 hours (per day) which can be devoted to it. Meeting the administrative expectations may be a good feeling, and it may silence the conscience of the professional guidance for a short while, but in the longer run it leads only to rolling the problems.

Supporting quality improvement requires a new kind of management approach in all these fields. A headmaster with a new kind of management approach, should not ask himself or herself only: "what have I done today in the interest of the control and improvement of a particular professional and operational area?" but also "when did I enquire last about the work of teams working on quality improvement?" and "have I given the necessary management support to the colleagues?"

If there is a quality management system in operation, then success is no longer the self-sacrificing responsibility of the headmaster only. One should also take into consideration the constant change and development in the expectations of the environment and of the partners, therefore the task cannot be considered as a single one. The institution will probably be able to survive without extraordinary organisational shocks only if it develops a positive variant of the adaptability, namely the ability of continuous improvement.

Quality improvement represents a break with the traditional role of the management and the related narrow scope for action in more than one respect. The way the colleagues joining this activity look at the things at institutional level, their problem-solving techniques and those of professional improvement represent a background from which the headmaster can draw assistance at any time. Experience shows that quality improvement means a lot, particularly in the field of supporting the work of the younger colleagues. The dividing lines among age groups, existing in the teaching staff, happen to be the fault lines of work and pedagogical culture as well. Without transmitting the accumulated pedagogical experience and institutional tradition, passing on the earlier achievements cannot be guaranteed. Elaboration of the own quality concept of the institution and quality improvement mean joint work, which is capable of dissolving divisions within the staff due to age and other reasons.

Opening up towards partners transforms the institutional medium also between the headmasters and the associates. Now professional debates have a point, a focus of reference. This point of reference is an increasingly full correspondence to facts one has learned about, which is a goal of making individual performance more measurable and comprehensible, it remodels the professional dialogue to be more practical.

9. How to build on our strengths?

Quality improvement, as it was mentioned earlier, is an enterprise in which several elements are known and are partly implemented in practice in the institutions of public education. Consequently there may exist numerous institutional achievements on which one can confidently build upon when launching quality improvement. It does not represent a novelty primarily in a technical sense (though in many cases in that sense as well), but it is distinguished from the traditional organisational development and innovation by the fact that it is carefully considered, organised and carried out consciously.

The most important achievement a quality improvement activity can be based on is the educational and pedagogical programme of the institution. This can be a decisive starting point, particularly in the institutions where the programme was not simply adapted to the local conditions but, at least partially, there had been some promotional activity. In the case of such an institution quality improvement is the most natural part of the creation of the programme, which serves the maintenance, continuous improvement and realisation of the programme.

Another strength to start from is if the institution works with a programme, or is carrying out a development experiment, which is based on a well-tested pedagogy focusing on the user. In such institutions no one has to be persuaded about the usefulness and importance of the work focusing on children and pupils. A kindergarten and primary school, implementing one of the programmes of personality development, are by definition, open to quality. The requirements of focusing on partners and of continuous improvement are understandable also to the institutions of secondary vocational education, which have been working together with precisely identified and demanding employers, or which have joined the programmes supported by the World Bank and PHARE.

If the kindergarten, school or hostel has already completed a profound self-assessment, it can confidently build on its lessons, too. The members of the staff usually consider self-assessment as useful, important and remarkable. At the same time it is only rarely that problems raised by self-assessment are solved in the framework of the traditional operation of the institution. Thus despite all its usefulness, evaluation and self-assessment are insufficient; real change can only be achieved by continuous improvement.

In institutions where the development of an education or pedagogical programme does not represent a starting point to further development and no institutional self-assessment was done before, a simple but effective instrument has to be found for the work prior to quality improvement. The method chosen has to be a simple activity and to be rapidly performed, which immediately offers the experience of the joint work and strengthens the self-knowledge of the institution and its sensitivity towards problems.

10. How to learn from others and from each other?

Development and learning are processes inseparable from each other. During our life we are constantly learning, either from our own mistakes, or from those of the others. This is the case in the field of industry, services and education as well. With the passing of time the pedagogical trends also change. Demands and accumulated experience jointly produce the basis for change. The various pedagogical trends have often promoted the development of new teaching methods, or, it may have been a new teaching method, which has brought along the development of a new trend. The new methods were subsequently studied, assessed by others as well and were adapted to their own system. They have been continuously learning from others as well as from themselves. Learning from one another has a great tradition in the Hungarian public education. In the 'experimental' curricula of the 80s, the 'innovative' practice of the 90s, the curriculum development in secondary vocational education supported by the World Bank, and the methods of elaborating pedagogical programmes have mainly spread by the transfer of the best practices among the institutions. Learning from each other is one of the most important areas of quality improvement, having a constantly developing methodology, where the existing practice and contacts of Hungarian schools, kindergartens and hostels represent a great advantage. One may say that learning from each other is a proof that quality improvement is not an entirely new task 'to be learned', but in reality it is an activity to be further promoted and pursued more consciously on the basis of the existing practice of the institutions.

A similar development can be observed in the economic sector as well. Most of the developments are based on the already existing knowledge and experiences. It has become necessary to speed up the process of learning from other organisations in order to introduce a more brisk pace to development. Several methods have been developed to promote it in the economic sphere, which can be applied successfully by the institutions of public education, too.

It should be stressed that from now on we are talking about the learning process of the organisations and not of the individuals. This needs to be emphasised on because with the improvement in the quality of services offered by the institutions, the quality of work and its productivity also change in direct proportion, but the improvement of the individual work is not enough for the improvement of the quality of the institutions, it is essential to improve its activities and processes, too.

Let us learn from our own achievements and faults and those of our competitors!

It is important to everybody to get feedback about his or her performance, as this is the only way of exploring mistakes, errors and bad practices. An organisation placing quality improvement into the focus of its activities has to elaborate its own system of measurement, control and assessment / evaluation, which allows for finding on this basis the causes of mistakes, for analysis, and for the determination of the areas to be improved. The principle of learning from one's own mistakes is that the goal is not to find a 'scapegoat', but to prevent its re-occurrence.

The disadvantage of this type of learning process is that the organisations evaluate their achievements with the help of their own expectations and not those of their partners, and if the aim is set low then they can easily commit the mistake of over-satisfaction. Hence it is important to supplement the measurement of the achievements with comparing our own results to those of our competitors. Such a comparison is inevitable with the appearance of competitors and with competition becoming stronger in every area of life.

The process of comparison offers an opportunity to get acquainted more exactly with the achievements of the organisation, but its disadvantage is that by comparing results it only encourages organisations to evaluate, and it does not necessarily promote the investigation of the causes of differences in results, which can be followed by the utilisation of the experiences of other organisations and by implementing corrective actions.

If an organisation wants to learn from the comparison with the results of the competitors in the interest of quality improvement, it should compare its own processes and methods to those of the competitors. In the interest of achieving this aim the most diverse methods have been developed in the economic sector, starting from the marketing analysis up to the industrial espionage.

Significant progress in the field of learning from each other can be promoted primarily by conferences, forums for exchange of experience and information and through joint developments where the comparison of internal processes is assisted by indicators elaborated in the interest of learning from competitors.

Let us learn together!

Some organisations of outstanding performance in certain fields, the 'market leaders', face difficulties in learning from their competitors, because it may happen that they are unable to find an organisation in the given sector which is more successful than they are, be it in the economic, or service sphere. However, continuous improvement is a key issue for them as well, since the demands of their partners keep on changing, and their competitors, partly learning from them, also continuously develop.

There is an opportunity for improvement in the case of such organisations as well, if they get acquainted with, and follow with attention the practice of the organisations running similar processes in other sectors. This kind of learning from each other has unfolded in the method of learning and development known as benchmarking. The method has originated in the US, and has gradually spread in many countries of the world.

Benchmarking is a process of learning, in the course of which the best practice(s) used in other organisations can be identified in a given field, or process, and its adaptation and further development serve the improvement of the operation of the receiving organisation. Thus it is a planned and systematic process of learning, which can be done irrespective of the sector or field of activity. In other words, "benchmarking is a practice when we are modest enough to acknowledge: there is someone who is better than we are, and we are wise enough to learn how to catch up with him, and we can become capable even of overcoming him".

The principle of such learning is that the organisations learn not only from another organisation, but from each other as well, sharing their results. They start learning jointly, they get acquainted with and evaluate each other's practice, and they launch a systematic work of analysis and development to overcome differences. Finally, every organisation utilises the experiences obtained in its own way.

It is of key importance in the field of quality improvement in public education that the institutions should transfer the 'practice of learning from each other' instinctively used so far into a process of genuinely benchmarking type. For that purpose the designing of the process of learning from each other is indispensable, together with the application and development / improvement of methods on a continuous basis in which the headmasters can have a rather important role to play.

In addition to those mentioned above, learning initiatives, based on the experience of the competitors and on the study of their success, elaborated for the field of public education, have appeared in many parts of the world. An example of it is the Koalaty Kid programme, launched in the US, or the set of criteria, elaborated for education, of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, again founded in the US, or the Swedish Quality Award for Education.

It is a common feature of these programmes that the success and the eminence of the internal processes of the organisations are measured and evaluated by points of consideration determined in advance but identical within the same programmes. All the programmes are based on self-assessment. Another common feature is that the organisations joining the programmes do not stop at assessment and at the comparison of the achievements, but go ahead, after having shared and taken over experiences, in the direction of continuous improvement.

11. How does the life of the institution change, once quality improvement has started?

Any development / improvement activity can lead to success only if the managers of the change are able to plan in advance what they can expect at various stages of the process; in which areas difficulties or success can be expected. The quality improvement work should be planned with particular care in the organisations, which have survived several reorganisations and serious changes due to some external or internal reasons.

Launching quality improvement and quality management is not necessarily a 'development' producing spectacular and immediate changes, or tangible results. It is a work of minute details, which may bring about apparently small change and acknowledged results in issues important to our partners, which, however, can be clearly sensed by them.

It is a specific feature of the quality improvement activities that they will open the possibility for the direct and indirect partners to influence the operation of the institution by expressing their demands, expectations and satisfaction. It derives from such openness that the planning of the results - at least in the first phase - is possible only to a limited extent. There will be results even in fields where it could not be foreseen, or, on the contrary, in areas where the problems seemed to remain unsolved. This is natural as the direction of the development is determined by the newly explored demands of the partners.

In the result of the change in approach, continuously new dimensions emerge in the work of the organisation, hence headmasters and their associates undertaking quality management have to be prepared for permanent openness, for keeping released creativity in bounds. This is why it is important to stress on 'respecting minor changes' right from the beginning; and one should rather be cautious about 'redeeming' ideas, which are always released from the bottle whenever common thinking is launched. A sense of security is important to the organisation, so that it controls the change(s), and small things may seem to be the most important ones often even to its partners, things which could be changed easily if 'at last someone had paid attention'. The first visible signs of quality improvement are the following:

1. Intra-institutional communication improves; 'the internal language' of a good institution develops. Talks 'based on life', when, for instance, teachers discuss their experiences in teaching and education on the basis of their impressions during, or at the end of the academic year, are replaced by discussions based on facts visible by all, exploring causal relationships, during which they can look for solutions to the professional issues by objective means.

2. The appearance of transparent principles of management, the sharing of tasks and responsibilities, and the development of the procedure of decision-making are important signs of change. The headmaster recognises that it serves the improvement of the operation of the institution if he/she does not monopolise information, but consciously shares his/her dilemmas with colleagues and involves them in decision-making and in designing the changes.

3. The most important partners of the institution, the small children, pupils and parents unambiguously respond to changes. They shape their opinion more willingly, with better care and with more initiative: they express not only criticism, but also recommendations with the objective to promote improvement.

4. As a result of the continuous dialogue the relationship with the educational institutions of the next grade also improves, the possibility of co-operation is born, its framework emerges.

5. The local concept of quality is crystallised in the course of constant dialogue with the partners: the institution is enabled to express the essence of its activity, the elements of its difference compared to other institutions. At this stage it is highly recommended to make the result tangible, that is, a brief mission statement should be formulated.

6. The formal system of measuring partners' demands and satisfaction is incorporated into the work of the institution in the interest of increasing the effectiveness of the dialogue and contacts with the partners.

7. An internal demand for self-assessment develops. Self-assessment gives feedback about the internal and external sense of well-being that is about the satisfaction of partners, thus offering an opportunity to set the aims of quality improvement tangibly and realistically. A clarification of internal objectives helps prepare a well-founded quality improvement activity, as a result of which the development / improvement is not simply 'advancing to escape', but it is adjusted to the concept of quality and to a common consensus. The relationship between the institution and the maintainer improves, the chances of access to the development funds by the kindergarten, school or hostel improve, as it can apply for support to unambiguously worded aims, and it is able to present the efficiency of the utilisation of the resources received.



THE COMENIUS 2000

QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION

1. The aim of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme

1.1 Strategic objectives of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education on institutional level

1.2 Strategic objectives of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education on the maintainer's and on sector levels

2. Principles of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education

3. The vision of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education

4. The structure of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education

4.1 Models of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education at institutional level

4.2 Models of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education at maintainer's level



1. The aim of the COMENIUS 2000 quality improvement programme

Different tools, procedures and methods are applied in educational systems of different structure in the interest of assuring the quality, standards and efficiency of education and teaching. In Hungary the quality of education has become a highly important issue, because the system of public education has been transformed, therefore the tools, procedures and institutions, which traditionally used to guarantee the quality and standards of education, cannot be operated under the new, changed conditions. Since 1990 the Hungarian public education consists mostly of kindergartens, schools and hostels, maintained mainly by local governments and enjoying broad professional autonomy. The functioning of a free choice of school, mostly in towns and cities, and the demographic influences together can expose the institutions, at times eminent ones, to the economising considerations of their maintainers. It is primarily the users, pupils, parents, maintainers, etc., who give feedback about the operation of the schools, and express their demands and expectations.

Secondary education has become general, and secondary education giving secondary school leaving certificate is gradually becoming a mass phenomenon. The demands of children, pupils and parents are becoming increasingly varied. The kindergartens, schools and hostels have to operate in a competitive environment, responding to changing expectations. At the same time, there are no tools, procedures and methods at the disposal of the institutions, by which the quality of their service could be reliably measured, assessed and developed. Nor do they possess instruments by which they could make the results of their activities public towards their partners that are towards the users' groups. Due to the narrow range of generally accepted performance indicators guaranteeing the possibility of comparison, the picture formed about the institutions is inevitably incomplete, often distorted, or one-sided. This is well exemplified by the annual publication of the 'ranking lists' of secondary schools, based so far on a single indicator, namely, the proportion of pupils successfully entering higher education.

Today the possibilities of the institutions are strongly restricted by the limitations of the local budget. There is a growing demand for local normative, or task financing; a professional evaluation of innovative applications of kindergartens and schools has become general. Local educational regulators (such as number of children in the groups, proportion of teachers/pupils, etc.) have been elaborated in many places, documents determining institutional scope for action have become more rigorous and regulated. There is a diminishing space for professionally unfounded 'attempts at sudden prominence', trying to acquire advantages. Kindergartens, schools and hostels have to strive increasingly to solve real pedagogical problems if they wish to retain, or enhance their competitiveness.

In the process of renewal, making education a local public service is of key importance. In addition to meeting the central requirements, the institutions primarily have to meet the demands of the local partners, such as children, pupils, parents, employers, the next grade of education, higher education, etc. In the interest of the successful work the significance of the satisfaction of the internal users of kindergartens, schools and hostels, of teachers and supporting staff is being upgraded as well.

In this situation the quality of education and teaching appears as a possibility of being favourably different from other kindergartens, or schools. The development of the local concept of quality offers a possibility for the uniqueness of the teaching and educational work of the institution, of wording its specific values and for the continuous renewal of its dialogue with partners. Thinking about quality, and the related development / improvement activity, can enrich the work of the institutions by new methods, caring already for quality and being demanding, and it can call attention to the importance of conscious development based on careful consideration and dialogue.

However, the work done in the interest of quality with the highest professional qualifications remains out of contact with the real life if it is not adjusted to the expectations of its local environment. The expectations of partners having an interest in education are best summarised by a locally developed interpretation of quality. The kindergarten, school, or hostel elaborates the locally legitimate concept of quality, after having got acquainted with the expectations of partners, such as the maintainer, the teachers, children and parents, etc. This means that every institution possesses a unique concept of quality, corresponding to its own environment, mission and conditions and naturally fitting to the legal and financing norms, and to the system of general social expectations expressed by regulations of content. It is this local creative work, which makes quality a real, living and legitimate concept for the institutions of education and teaching.

An institution participating in quality improvement can effectively utilise feedback on its activities, success and efficiency in the renewal of its work, because it assesses daily work, and nurtures continuous contact with the partners whose opinion is decisive in judging its work. This active set of contacts and co-operation also makes it eventually possible for the management and associates of the institution to present their achievements and values more successfully to their partners. An institution concentrating on internal quality discovers that the success of the work is closely related to the professional standard of the operation and management of the organisation, the commitment and satisfaction of colleagues. Therefore it strives to be able to respond swiftly and effectively to the constantly changing demands as an open organisation ready to learn.

The COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education, by spreading quality management models for the institutions and their maintainers, wishes to help the institutions of the Hungarian public education to become competitive organisations, which successfully respond to the challenges and to the changing demands of their environment.

1.1 Strategic objectives of the COMENIUS 2000 quality improvement programme for school education on institutional level

Development of 'partner-focused operation': recognition of the importance of the continuous dialogue and conciliation with partners, and its incorporation into the daily work of the institutions

The education in the kindergarten can be successful if it is based on the daily contact between the kindergarten and the parents. School results of pupils are also closely related to the content and effectiveness of the co-operation with the family and other organisations dealing with young people. The success of the career of young people is based on how far the institution is capable of equipping them with knowledge and competency that will make them capable of meeting the present and future demands of the society and the market economy, and to adapt themselves to them continuously. Today education should not concentrate exclusively on transferring the 'achievements' of science; it also has to develop the ability of pupils to acquire and utilise knowledge, they have to be prepared for controlling their own destiny. An institution of public education can respond to this difficult challenge only if it carries on a continuous dialogue with its environment and partners, as it can obtain the necessary information and help from them. At the same time it can make the learning process easier for pupils by paying attention to partners, by the recognition and solution of minor daily problems just as much as it can make the teaching and educational work of teachers also easier.

Development of the ability of process control

The development of the ability to control the processes is indispensable to the conscious organisation of work in kindergartens, schools and hostels. The exploration and regulation of the processes of the institutions place emphasis on the recognition of the effectiveness of joint responsibility and joint action, on demonstrating the success of organised work. The majority of the Hungarian teachers often struggle individually to cope with the problems of education and teaching, without acknowledgement and community support, whereas much more could be achieved jointly. The work of teachers and supporting staff of institutions is based on one another during the implementation of the daily tasks of teaching and education. Process control offers new possibilities for making the daily activities of the institutions more effective and successful.

Development of the ability to develop the organisation consciously

The kindergartens, schools and hostels can adequately respond to the constant change of the external and internal environment, to the changing demands of the partners, if they develop their ability to develop the organisation consciously. In this way they can make the operation of the organisation and the co-operation, based on human relations, more effective, guaranteeing a balanced and encouraging atmosphere among the teaching staff and in the entire institution.

Development of the ability of continuous improvement

The development of the ability to develop continuously the institutional activities offers help in recognising good practice(s), the key(s) for success in daily work, and it offers a possibility for the colleagues to 'share' these 'secrets', and by learning together, to achieve better results.

The control of the processes of the institutional work, the organisational development and the continuous improvement of the activities offer for a change in approach and a new approach to the institutions implementing their total quality management system. With the help of the TQM system they can transform their activities in such a way as they serve the implementation and the achievement of the local quality being important both to them and to their partners.

Providing the opportunity for learning from each other

The aim of the Programme is to support the dissemination of the experiences, the best quality improvement and quality management practices of kindergartens, schools and hostels both on national and local levels. For this purpose the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education puts great emphasis on the multiplication effect. A network of role model (basis) institutions -kindergartens and schools -, qualified on the ground of institutional self-assessment and external evaluation, can be developed, the teachers, or groups of teachers of which may become capable of presenting the practice of quality improvement and management, and, following a rigorous pre-qualification and training, of pursuing consulting, or advisory activities.

1.2 Strategic objectives of the COMENIUS 2000 quality improvement programme for school education on the maintainer's and the sector levels

The quality improvement practice of the institutions of public education can be truly successful if the maintainers and the national organs of sector management also participate in this work. Therefore it is among the aims of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education on one hand to disseminate models promoting the quality improvement of the maintainers' education management, and on the other hand to develop the own quality improvement practice of the Ministry of Education, governing the sector.

Development and improvement of the maintainer's communication in the field of education management in order to help the formulation of the mission of the local systems of public education

Public education is a local public service, the management of which is inconceivable without a dialogue and efficient co-operation with the parties interested in education. The programme wishes to extend professional assistance to the maintainers in the formulation and implementation of the mission and in setting the aims of the system of public education run by them.

Development and application of the maintainers' quality management systems

The development and application of the maintainers' quality management systems can establish predictable conditions and a co-operating environment for the realisation of their tasks undertaken for the institutions of public education. Models of the maintainers' quality management offer assistance to managers of education to regulate as well as to develop and improve the methods for local planning of education and for the management of the every day co-operation of the maintainer with the institutions (such as control, assessment/evaluation, information flow, etc.) and for the search for the joint solutions to educational problems which cannot be treated at institutional level (such as ensuring the mobility and continuity of learning, the protection of individual routes of learning).

Continuous improvement of the maintainers' activities, development and spread of models of quality-oriented financing of education, based on the local concepts of quality achieved by consensus

The practice of continuous improvement can incorporate the simple but effective method of quality improvement into the daily practice of maintainers' education management, together with an approach paying attention to the causes of success and setting it out as a requirement. A financing system based on the performance of tasks and on the local concepts of quality accepted by consensus can create a predictable environment, communicating precise expectations to the institutional work.

The development of the quality improvement practice of the Ministry of Education, governing the sector

It is the task of the Ministry of Education to improve the operation of the education management on national level. It should create an environment, which is predictable, both from legal and financing angles, and provides support to the activities of the institutions and of their maintainers. In the course of the development / elaboration of these regulating norms it should make sure that learning about the changing demands of the parties concerned at definite intervals will be spelt out as an obligation. In the result of this the sector management activities will be in line with the expectations of the society.

For this purpose the Ministry of Education creates and operates the national system of assessment, inspection / control and quality improvement, provides the professional and institutional background required for this activity, and, in the interest of improving the operation of its own organisation, implements its own quality management system. The Ministry of Education will establish a quality award scheme for the acknowledgement of the excellent quality improvement practices of the institutions and maintainers.

The quality improvement models for the institutions and the maintainers were developed on the basis of the aims of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education. In the next phase of the quality improvement work of the Ministry of Education, activities related to the spreading of the set of requirements of the models and the supporting activities, facilitating their implementation, will have a prominent role.

2. Principles of the COMENIUS 2000 quality improvement programme for school education

During the implementation of the quality improvement programme the Ministry of Education considers the continuous dialogue and the search for broad consensus as the most important values, together with the openness towards the opinion of partners interested in education.

The management of the Ministry of Education, launching the Programme, is aware of the fact that spreading the practice of quality improvement can be realised by a step-by-step approach, with the help of a long-term promoting and supporting programme, with a set of professionally well founded instruments, with applications for grants, with a pool of experts of broad professional background and expertise and a political consensus, arching over the government cycles. For this purpose the Programme wishes to build on the results of the existing national practice, on the international professional experience, and takes the expectations of the European Union also into consideration.

Voluntary participation and a tolerant approach, considering the differences of the institutions, the different institutional cultures and the demand for catching up are basic conditions for spreading quality improvement and it is also the guiding principle in the implementation of the Programme.

As the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education wishes to achieve its aims by utilising public funds, it has to set an example of the efficient utilisation of these resources, and also of a continuous assessment of the achievements of its own objectives. In order to promote this, the Programme builds upon the supportive participation and recommendations of the partners interested in quality improvement, and, through the pre-qualification of the providers of consultancy services joining the Programme, it guarantees a well-founded background of professional services for the institutions and their maintainers.

3. The vision of the COMENIUS 2000 quality improvement programme FOR school education

When planning a quality improvement programme, we should know what kind of a new quality we wish to create in the practice of school education, and what kind of quality management and quality improvement approaches and practices would suit it the best. For this purpose the Ministry of Education has summarised - in order to help the partners willing to join the Programme - the most important characteristics of the operation on institutional, maintainers' and sector levels to be measured and achieved in the perspective of the coming 10-15 years.

Institutional level

1. The institution will organise its work by identifying the partners (parties involved: pupils, parents, employers, maintainer, etc.), by surveying their demands, by implementation in-practice the PDCA-logic (Plan, Do, Check - monitoring and assessment, Act - implementation of the necessary corrective actions), in other words, it will incorporate the basic cycle of quality management into its daily work. The institution will set its aims on the basis of the demands of the partners, control the processes within the framework of the quality management system and improve its activities on the basis of the regularly performed self-assessment, external evaluations and through surveying and studying the partners' satisfaction.

2. Through the conscious and continuous development of the organisational culture - which is the basic mission of the management of the institutions -, the kindergarten, school and hostel will make themselves capable to implement the above tasks.

Maintainer's level

1. The maintainer will perform its tasks of education planning on the basis of the regular dialogue with partners. It will support and co-ordinate the co-operation of the institutions and the other interested parties / partners in education.

2. Being professionally well equipped, the maintainer will regularly control and evaluate the work of the institutions.

3. The maintainer will have as its prominent task the protection of the individual routes of learning:

  • assures the enforcement of the principles of 'ensuring educational mobility' and the 'possibility to continue and build further', among the educational institutions by following the possible routes of learning and the co-ordination of the institutional levels,

  • designs / plans the educational offer and formulates the local requirements on the basis of surveying the needs and satisfaction of the interested parties,

  • participates in the co-operation of maintainers, needed for the protection of individual routes of learning.

4. The maintainer will operate a quality-oriented system of financing, based on consensus and considering the local interpretations of quality, in the interest of creating a predictable, supportive environment.

5. The maintainer will operate an effective information system, which guarantees the provision of the necessary information to the parties involved, furthermore, it will arrange for the exchange and the accessibility of the information generated at various levels.

Sector level

1. An expedient operational framework of the public education system will be shaped on the basis of the regular measurement and appraisal of the demands and satisfaction of those involved in making the system operational: it defines legal norms and norms of financing, looks after the task of regulating the content.

2. It makes sure that the legal norms and the requirements of content are respected, controlled and evaluated.

3. It develops an environment supporting and encouraging the spread of the culture of quality, by creating adequate guiding principles, models, services, incentives, strategy for communication, etc.

4. It develops and runs a system of quality-oriented financing, which relies on the already existing elements (funds for modernisation, a system of in-service teacher training, support given to the purchase of the relevant literature, income supplement granted for outstanding work, etc.), and enriches it with further new elements.

5. It creates and operates an efficient information system on public education.

4. The structure of the COMENIUS 2000 quality improvement programme FOR school education

The COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education, following the principle of the step-by-step implementation, consists of two fields - institutional and maintainer's - with three models in each field built upon one another. The fact that the models are built on one each other provides the opportunity for the gradual (step by step) progress with the quality improvement programme both by the institutions and their maintainers (see Figure 1).

THE STRUCTURE OF THE COMENIUS 2000 QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION

No organisation functions perfectly. The difference is that while one organisation tries to forget about it, the other one strives to correct the mistakes and, like a pearl shell, makes virtue out of fault. This is why we have taken the shell as the symbol modelling the COMENIUS 2000 Programme for Quality Improvement in School Education.

"It is amazing that a simple living being like the shell is capable of such a miracle as the pearl. When people are irritated by something, they get angry, grumble and beat about. The shell does something entirely different. If an alien body gets inside and begins to irritate it, the shell emits a substance, which reduces the unpleasant friction. It covers the body causing the wound, and the material discharged miraculously solidifies and is transformed into a beautiful pearl. Shells that are not irritated by an alien body have no problem. No problem - no pearl."

(M. Dale Baughman)

On institutional level - disregarding some special cases - the implementation of all the three models is possible and recommended. However, there may be institutions where, because of the special management system it may be necessary to implement the models differently from the general way. If there are institutions performing a joint task under common management (for instance, association, or system of member organisations, e.g. kindergarten), then, in principle, this situation does not influence the implementation, several institutions under a uniform management may develop their common, uniform system. However, even then it can be envisaged that the organisational characteristics of the individual merged institutions of the same type can have significant differences along with the common leadership. In this case it is worth considering by the management how broad space should be allocated to the specific characteristics of the individual institutions.

When institutions having different tasks (for instance, a school and a hostel) have been put under joint management, this fact should be taken into consideration during the implementation of the models, in other words, it is advisable to establish independent systems, or sub-systems from the point of view of quality improvement.

On maintainer's level the application of the first model is recommended for all organisations-maintainers, so that they become able to meet their legally stipulated obligation of development and planning at a proper level and efficiency. The second and third models are recommended primarily for those maintainers who have a large network of institutions; hence the protection of the routes of learning is their prominent task. At the same time, there are details to be considered in the second and third models also by those maintainers whose institutional network does not cover the entire route of learning. To these maintainers - due to legal obligations (such as the assessment and financing of the institutions) - the establishment of such professional or full-fledged financing associations is to be recommended which can facilitate the meeting of the legal requirements in a professional way.

Table 1 - FIELDS AND MODELS OF THE COMENIUS 2000 QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION



LEVEL

INSTITUTIONAL FIELD

MAINTAINER'S FIELD



LEVEL

INSTI-

TUTIONAL MODEL I

PARTNER-FOCUSED OPERATION:

(Getting into the mood of quality management)

  • Self-assessment

  • Identification of partners

  • Assessment of needs and demands

  • Definition of aims (in priority order)

  • Action plan (informal implementation)

DIALOGUE AND BUILDING CONSENSUS:



  • Generating consensus on the basis of the assessment of local needs and the dialogue with partners

  • Development of consensus-based education planning

MAIN-TAINER'S

MODEL I

INSTI-TUTIONAL

MODEL II

IMPLEMENTATION OF TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT:



  • Process control

  • Development of organisational culture

  • Development of the ability of continuous improvement

TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT AND CO-OPERATION

  • Operation of maintainer's quality management model

  • Support to and co-ordination of the co-operation among the maintainers, the institutions and other interested parties

  • Building up the organisational culture

MAIN-TAINER'S MODEL II

INSTI-TUTIONAL MODEL III

SPREADING QUALITY IMPROVEMENT, MULTIPLICATION:

  • A kindergarten, school, hostel, operating a total quality management system is capable of helping quality improvement activities in other institutions

  • Teachers or groups of teachers of an institution having a total quality management system are able -after a strict pre- qualification and training- to work as consultants in other institutions

DEVELOPMENT OF A STIMULATING ENVIRONMENT



  • Quality-oriented financing

  • Development of organisational culture

  • Development of co-operation among maintainers

MAIN-TAINER'S MODEL III

4.1 institutional Models of the COMENIUS 2000 quality improvement programme FOR school education

The institutional field of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education contains three models built upon one another (see Figure 2 in the Annex).

4.1.1. INSTITUTIONAL MODEL I - "PARTNER-FOCUSED OPERATION"

The aim of the Institutional Model I is that the institutions of public education should continue the work they begun when the educational and pedagogical programmes were prepared. As a result they should increasingly become suited for offering educational and teaching services corresponding to the social and local needs and demands. The present recommendation contains the initial steps, on the basis of which the Institutional Model II will extend the scope of the operation of the quality management system. The aim of the Institutional Model I is to develop an organisational culture required for the partner-focused operation. During this activity the implementing institution should keep in view the realisation of the following aims:

1. The headmasters and the associates should become aware of the fact that the activity of the institution is a service, which has many interested parties (partners). The institution can perform its activity in an effective and efficient way if the demands and expectations of its partners are put in the focus of attention. Thus efforts should be made to get information about the opinion of the partners concerning the services provided by the institution.

2. The continuous and conscious development and improvement of the institutional operation is a task requiring a strong commitment on behalf of the management towards quality improvement as an indispensable precondition for its successful implementation. However, no matter how committed the headmaster may be, he / she alone is unable to improve the operation of the institution. For that he needs the support and the active participation of every colleague. Therefore it should be guaranteed for them that in addition to doing the daily routine, they could participate in shaping the processes determining the operation of the institution. For this purpose involvement, thinking together and teamwork is required.

3. The institutions of public education work as organisations where tasks are divided and activities are subordinated to the achievement of the jointly accepted institutional aims. To put it differently: it is the task of the headmaster of the institution to think over where is the borderline between the teacher's autonomy and the institutional responsibility, where the joint actions should begin. To draw this line is a delicate task, which cannot be achieved by power, only by a quest for consensus and by involving the associates.

4. The immediate achievement of the best operation can be realised only rarely and it is a very difficult task. In practice it is rather the step-by-step implementation of continuous improvement, which works. The institution should continuously develop and improve its own operation. In the process of this continuous improvement it is the conscious and consistent implementation of the PDCA-SDCA1 cycle (see Figure 3 in the Annex), which offers a real help to the institution.

The Institutional Model I does not as yet require the institutions to apply the PDCA-SDCA cycle. At the same time it is recommended to every institution, aiming at the implementation of the Institutional Model II, to apply this approach already in this model, because the consistent implementation of this way of thinking is the pre-condition forcontinuous improvement. Following the intervention (corrective action/s/), during the process of standardisation, which is the planning step of the new phase, the institution will convert the already tested good practices into the uniformly accepted daily practice of the organisation. Thus the institution can begin the next cycle equipped with better methods, meaning that it is the improvement of the 'standardised' operation, which takes place in the new cycle.

5. The logical process of the Institutional Model I - "Partner- focused operation" - is shown in Figure 4 (see below). The model can be divided into four phases:

PLAN DO CHECK ACT

The planning phase begins with the assessment of the situation of the institution based on an open self-assessment. This is followed by the identification of partners playing a role in the life of the institution and by appraising their expectations and satisfaction. After the analysis of the data, during the definition of the aim(s), the institution becomes capable of setting targets, which fully correspond to the expectations of the partners and enhance satisfaction. Elaborating action plans does the planning of the implementation of the aims set.

With the elaboration of the action plans and the implementation of their contents the institution responds in practice to the expectations of the parties involved.

The results of the implementation of the action plans have to be analysed so that the institution can clearly see how far it has progressed in the achievement of its aims.

If the result of the analysis shows that no change, in keeping with the expectations, has taken place, for instance, dissatisfaction did not decrease, or satisfaction did not grow, the institution has to consider what should be done differently right from the beginning, the planning phase.

THE LOGICAL FLOW CHART OF THE COMENIUS 2000 INSTITUTIONAL MODEL I "PARTNER- FOCUSED OPERATION"

Figure 4 embraces the entire PDCA cycle. At the same time, the Institutional Model I puts the main emphasis on the planning phase (Plan). In steps 7 and 8 the institution identifies the requirements independently and can freely choose the methods for the fulfilment of these requirements.



4.1.2. INSTITUTIONAL MODEL II - "IMPLEMENTATION OF TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT"

The aim of the Institutional Model II is to enable institutions of public education - after the development and implementation of the first level - to handle problems for which the Institutional Model I does not yet offer a solution. For this purpose the institutions wishing to introduce the model have to make significant progress in three areas.

The ability to control processes

The institution should develop and introduce a documented quality management system, which covers all the processes capable to influence the educational and teaching activities of the institution. During this activity the institution

  • should become able to identify its processes,

  • should acquire the ability to design the processes consciously,

  • should control its processes on the basis of the partners' expectations to an extent required for the realisation of the institutional goals,

  • should implement the results of process control into the daily operation of the institution,

  • should develop the system for measurement and assessment of its processes,

  • should regularly evaluate the internal operation of the institution,

  • should apply the principle of the PDCA-SDCA cycle in the course of process improvement.

The ability to develop the organisational culture

The management of the institution should consciously develop its organisational culture by involving staff members. During this activity the management should pay particular attention to the realisation of the following:

  • the associates are involved in the process of development,

  • a system appraising personal achievements is developed and operational,

  • a supporting system of personal development is in place,

  • the management of human resources is consciously planned,

  • tasks are delegated (empowerment),

  • intra-institutional communication is developed in support to co-operation,

  • people satisfaction is regularly measured,

  • a system of motivation is developed in the institution,

  • the organisational culture is continuously developed.

The ability of continuous improvement

The management and staff of the institution should be able to apply the PDCA-SDCA cycle continuously in every area of the institutional operation. For this purpose methods should be introduced which promote:

  • the joint learning of the organisation,

  • the openness of the organisation and

  • the process of learning from each other (from other institutions).

During the implementation of the Institutional Model II it depends on the decision of the implementing institution when and which of the three abilities to be developed is emphasised, as all three are the dimensions of one and the same system of quality management.

4.1.3. INSTITUTIONAL MODEL III - "MULTIPLICATION OF QUALITY IMPROVEMENT"

The goal of the Institutional Model III is to enable the teachers and teachers' communities of the institutions of public education to pass on their skills and experiences acquired in the field of quality improvement and to provide support to the quality improvement work of other institutions. The quality improvement programme differentiates between two levels of activities of multiplication.

1. A kindergarten, school or hostel, operating a total quality management system, is able to assist the quality improvement activities of other institutions as a role model (reference) institution.

2. Individual associates, or groups of associates of an institution, having a total quality management system in operation, are able - after a rigorous pre-qualification and training - to work as consultants or advisors in other institutions.

In order to implement the Institutional Model III, the institution:

  • should elaborate in-service training programmes in the field of quality improvement,

  • should make the institution open for the exchange of professional experiences,

  • should elaborate and publish case descriptions and case studies,

  • should document the methods which have proved to be successful and make them accessible for other institutions,

  • should enable the staff (or a defined circle of them) of the institution to perform the role of a coach, consultant or advisor,

  • should provide the human resources required for this supporting activity.

4.2. MAINTAINER'S MODELS OF THE COMENIUS 2000 PROGRAMME FOR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT IN SCHOOL EDUCATION

The maintainer's level of the COMENIUS 2000 Programme for Quality Improvement in School Education contains three models built on one another (see Figure 5 in the Annex).

4.2.1. MAINTAINER'S MODEL I - "DIALOGUE AND BUILDING CONSENSUS"

The aim of the model is to enable the maintainer to plan on the basis of local demands. It should recognise that its activity is a public service, which has many interested parties (partners). The maintainer has to put its partners, including the external as well as the internal ones, into the focus of its activity. In order to do so it must get acquainted with their demands and assessment of the services offered. Based on dialogue, the maintainer should create consensus with its partners in respect to the educational service(s) it offers as part of its competency.

Based on the consensus created, the maintainer, together with its partners, should develop the tools and methods of long- and medium-term planning of the educational service, to be used continuously.

4.2.2. MAINTAINER'S MODEL II - "TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT AND CO-OPERATION"

After complying with the first level, the maintainer's organisation, or organisational unit (such as the department of education of the local government) should develop the total quality management system needed for the performance of the tasks of education management. On this basis the maintainer should become capable to elaborate a local set of requirements based on local demands and education choice.

The ability of process control

The maintainer's organisation of education management should develop and implement a documented quality management system, covering all those processes, which can influence its activities in the field of education management. The quality management system should cover the support to the co-operation among the local players of public education. In the course of this activity the educational organisation of the maintainer, co-operating with the parties involved:

  • should become able to identify its processes, with special regard to the teaching and educational processes, to co-ordinating and supporting the co-operation among the institutions where necessary,

  • should acquire the ability to design the processes consciously, should control its processes on the basis of the expectations of its partners, to the extent required for the realisation of the maintainer's aims,

  • the results of process control should be implemented into the daily operation of the organisation, or of the organisational unit, and into the processes of co-operation within the local system of public education,

  • should develop the system for measurement and assessment of its processes,

  • should regularly evaluate the internal operation of the organisation, or organisational unit, as well as the co-operative processes of the local system of public education,

  • should apply the principle of the PDCA-SDCA cycle in the course of process improvement.

Setting local requirements

The maintainer should mediate the demands revealed to the institutions under its management. For this purpose it should define and apply its set of local requirements after having checked them with the interested parties. The set of requirements should be properly presented to the institutions. Meeting the local requirements should be introduced into the procedure of the assessment / evaluation of institutions. It should regularly (adjusted to the curricular cycle of the institution's programme) survey the local requirements, just as much as the choice of education offered, on the basis of the changing demands and satisfaction of the parties concerned, and if necessary, modify them. When setting local requirements, it should pay attention to the maintainer's tasks of co-ordination related to the protection of routes of learning.





The ability of continuous improvement

In its daily operation the organisation (organisational unit) should become capable to apply continuously and in every field of the organisational operation the PDCA-SDCA cycle (see Figure 3 in the Annex). For this purpose the organisation should use the methods, which can promote:

  • the joint learning of the organisation,

  • the openness of the organisation, and

  • the process of learning from each other.

In the process of the implementation of the Maintainer's Model II - "Total quality management and co-operation" - it depends on the decision of the maintainer involved when and which of the competencies to be developed are emphasised, as all of them represent a dimension of one and the same quality management system.

4.2.3 MAINTAINER'S MODEL III - "DEVELOPMENT OF A STIMULATING ENVIRONMENT"

The ability to develop the organisational culture

The management of the maintainer's organisation (organisational unit) should consciously develop its organisational culture with the involvement of the staff. During this activity it should particularly pay attention to the following:

  • involvement of colleagues in the processes of improvement,

  • development and operation of a system appraising individual performances / achievements,

  • development of a system supporting personal development,

  • conscious planning of human resources,

  • delegation of tasks / empowerment,

  • development of intra-organisational communication, in support to co-operation,

  • regular measurement of staff satisfaction,

  • development of the system of motivation in the organisation (organisational unit),

  • continuous development of organisational culture.

The ability to operate a quality-oriented system of financing

The quality of the operation of the public educational institutions should be put into the focus of the system of financing by the maintainer. Its principles should be defined on the basis of consensus, with the agreement of the parties concerned. For this purpose such an information system should be developed which makes transparent the procedures of the assessment and the related quality-oriented financing, based on the performance of tasks corresponding to the local concepts of quality accepted by consensus.

INSTITUTIONAL MODEL I - "PARTNER-FOCUSED OPERATION" OF THE COMENIUS 2000 QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION

- Model description -



1. Open self-assessment

2. Identification of the interested parties

3. Survey of the demands and satisfaction of the interested parties

4. Analysis of the demands

5. Definition and modification of the aims and priorities

6. Preparation of action plans

7. Implementation of action plans

8. Evaluation of the implementation of action plans

9. Preparation and implementation of a plan of corrective actions

10. Controlled self-assessment

INSTITUTIONAL MODEL I - "PARTNER-FOCUSED OPERATION" OF THE COMENIUS 2000 QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION



- Model description -

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MODEL DESCRIPTION

The present recommendation is compulsory for all the institutions, which join the implementation of the Institutional Model I of the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education and receive state subsidy for this purpose. At the same time, the model, in many cases, regarding primarily the methods gives freedom to the implementing institutions, indicated in the text (by italics). Thus the implementing institutions during their work may use additional methods and instruments to those recommended, provided that they possess the necessary skills and expertise for their professional application. The Ministry of Education will prepare methodological guidance materials to ease the use of the recommended methods, which will be made accessible for every institution as part of the Quality Improvement Manual.

1. OPEN SELF-ASSESSMENT (ASSESSMENT OF THE PRESENT STATE OF THE INSTITUTION)

The institution should carry out an open self-assessment when launching the programme, the methods of which may be freely determined by the institution. Its goal is to open a free dialogue inside the institution on the situation of the institution and on its assessment. The entire staff of the institution should participate in the open self-assessment. It should extend over a survey of the internal as well as the external image of the institution.

The internal image of the institution should include the image held on the

  • expectations,

  • vision and

  • strengths and areas for improvement identified

by the 'internal customers', which are the employees of the institution.

The external image of the institution should include the image developed (or supposed2) by the employees of the institution on the

  • interested parties (partners) of the institution,

  • satisfaction of partners concerning the work of the institutions and

  • expectations set by the partners towards the institution.

The institution should prepare a written summary of the results of the open self-assessment, which should cover the system of connections between the educational and teaching programme and the results of the open self-assessment. This summary should be presented to the employees of the institution. The open self-assessment may be carried out by a method freely chosen by the institution. The methodological guidance materials offer help in the use of the methods recommended by the Ministry of Education for open self-assessment (SWOT analysis, EFQM model based self-assessment, personal interviews with headmasters, survey by questionnaire).

2. IDENTIFICATION OF THE INTERESTED PARTIES

2.1. The institution should identify its interested parties (partners). Based on the closeness of the relationship with partners, the institution should differentiate between direct and indirect partners as follows:

The direct partners are:

  • Primary actors of the learning-teaching and educational process (children, pupils, teachers and supporting staff).

  • Direct commissioners of the learning-teaching and educational process who set expectations and/or give resources to the institution (such as parents, maintainer).

  • The next stage of the career, or learning progress of the pupil (in the case of further education it is the next level of school3 or programme; in the case of employment this is the labour market, in the case of hostels it is the institution of teaching and education).

  • If there are some other direct users having a decisive role in respect to the institution, they should also be identified by the institution (such as, for instance, the direct or potential commissioner of a teaching programme offered by the institution).

The indirect partners are:

  • All those commissioners who express and/or mediate social and professional demands through some regulatory system towards the institution (such as for instance, the various law-making organisations, including the Ministry of Education).

  • Partners who can help the institution achieve its aims by their co-operation (such as for instance, the hostels, civil organisations, social organisations, cultural organisations, economic organisations, respected private individuals, churches, sport institutions, etc.). In the case of hostels in addition to the already mentioned partners, those educational institutions, which participate in the teaching and education of the pupils involved, also belong to this group.

  • Those organisations and communities, which set expectations to the process and/or results of the process of learning-teaching and educational activity (such as for instance, the professional organisations, chambers, civil organisations, churches, employers' organisations, etc.).

2.2. The institution participating in the Programme should put in writing the partners identified and their representatives who are able to mediate to the institution and represent the partners' expectations in the course of their activities. (Such representatives may be for instance, members of the school board, delegated by parents, leaders of the pupils' self-government representing the pupils, members of the educational committee of the local government, etc.)

2.3. The institution should set the period of time after which the process of identifying partners and their representatives should be repeated. The institution should carry out the repeated identification in keeping with the set time span, and should update its documents spelt out in the previous item by its results.

3. SURVEY OF THE DEMANDS AND SATISFACTION OF THE INTERESTED PARTIES

3.1. The institution should develop its method to learn the needs and demands of the partners, with the help of the methodological guidelines as minimum requirements.

The method developed should be open and objective.

The following should not be missing:

  • study of satisfaction,

  • study of dissatisfaction,

  • identification of demands,

and the determination of the priority order of the issues listed in the above three points.

3.2. In line with the aspects given in the methodological guidelines, the institution should develop its process of sampling, define the size and the composition (sample group) of the sample to be applied when the demands of the partners are surveyed so that it represents4 the partners of the institution. The institution should plan and fix the method and frequency of surveying the demands. The survey of the demands should be performed annually in respect to the sample group of the children and pupils, or that of the parents. (It is recommended to do such an annual survey in case of each direct partner.)

3.3. The institution should develop its procedure of measurement, to be able to meet the criteria of possible repeatability and reproducibility as well as of comparability.

3.4. The institution should describe the process of identifying the partners' demands.

3.5. The institution should put in writing the results of the survey of the demands, should make it public and accessible to the partners.

The identification of partners and the survey of their demands may be done by a method freely chosen by the institution. The methodological guidance materials offer help in the use of the methods recommended by the Ministry of Education for this activity (survey by questionnaire, personal interviews, survey by focus group).





4. ANALYSIS OF THE DEMANDS

4.1. The institution should make a comparative analysis of the results coming from the open self-assessment as well as the study of the demands and satisfaction of partners, with special regard to its harmony with the educational and pedagogical programme of the institution. The analysis should cover the following:

  • The comparative analysis of partners' demands (priority order of the individual partner's demands, identities and differences).

The institution should prepare a written summary of the results coming from the comparative analysis.

  • A comparative analysis of the partners' demands and the external self-image of the organisation (what have we seen correctly, or wrongly, what was the difference in the assessment of priorities).

If the institution has surveyed the partners' demands and satisfaction several times, the analysis should be extended over the changes as well (study of trend).

4.2. Based on the analysis done, the institution should draw conclusions to be used as starting points for the definition and modification of the aim. During this activity the institution should not loose sight of social expectations regarding public education, of characteristics of the future orientation of the sector, of the characteristics of the child/pupil-focused operation of the institution. When the conclusions are being drawn, the institution should pay attention to respond - instead of the individual demands and expectations - to the well-founded ones, appearing in several places.

4.3. It is the task of the management of the institution to involve the professional community (colleagues) in carrying out the analysis.

The analysis of the partners' demands may be done by a method freely chosen by the institution. The methodological guidance materials offer help in the use of the methods recommended by the Ministry of Education for this activity (comparative analyses, study of trend, data processing techniques).





5. Definition and modification of the aims and priorities

5.1. The institution defines its aims to be achieved on the basis of the results of the analysis and the conclusions drawn. If it has set aims earlier, for example, through an educational or pedagogical programme, by self-assessment, etc., then the evaluation of the realisation of these aims, if necessary, their modification, or the setting of new aims, should be carried out.

A priority order should be arranged among the aims, with special regard to the following areas:

  • demands of children, pupils and parents,

  • development of internal human resources,

  • national and local regulation(s),

  • maintainer's demands,

  • protection of routes of learning,

  • the order of priorities set should be modified on the basis of the available resources (financial, human, infrastructure, etc.). During this the achievable results should be considered so that the experience of success should be given to the participants within the bounds of the possibilities, so that it can produce the greatest achievable benefit, that is success, within the shortest possible time in view of the investment. For this purpose the demands of the associates should also be included among the aims to an extent determined by the institution.

5.2. The institution should precisely define its aims (if possible, in quantified form so that their attainment becomes measurable).

5.3. The institution should differentiate among short-term, medium- and long-term aims.

5.4. It is the task of the management of the institution to activate and involve the colleagues and to develop teamwork in the course of defining the aims.

5.5. The institution should regularly communicate (publish) its aims set to the partners (local press, notice-board, etc.).

Setting the aims and priorities may be done by a method freely chosen by the institution. The methodological guidance materials offer help in the use of the methods recommended by the Ministry of Education for this activity (principles of teamwork, case studies on decision making, moderator's roles, case studies on cost-effectiveness, tree diagram, KJ-S diagram).

6. Preparation of action plans

The institution should prepare a written action plan including the series of required actions to achieve the aim set, the required resources and time input, the responsible persons and the expected results as well as the method(s) of measurement and assessment /evaluation.

Preparation of the action plan may be done by a method freely chosen by the institution. The methodological guidance materials offer help in the use of the methods recommended by the Ministry of Education for this activity (making the aims measurable, content recommendations for the action plans, managerial tasks in the implementation of action plans).

7. Implementation of action plans

The institution should implement its action plan. In this respect the Institutional Model I "Partner-focused operation" does not outline any obligatory requirements, it only offers methodological recommendations.

The realisation of the action plans may be done by a method freely chosen by the institution. The methodological guidance materials offer help in the use of the methods recommended by the Ministry of Education for this activity (systematic problem-solving methodologies, case studies on problem-solving, case studies on solutions to management problems, description of the Institutional Model II: "Implementation of total quality management").

8. Evaluation of the IMPLEMENTation of action plans

The institution should regularly review and evaluate the achievement of the aims set. In this respect the Institutional Model I - "Partner-focused operation" - does not stipulate any compulsory requirements.

9. Preparation and implementation of a plan of corrective actions

The institution should regularly review and evaluate the realisation of its aims. In this respect the Institutional Model I - "Partner-focused operation" - does not stipulate any compulsory requirement. Nevertheless, it is recommended to the institution to incorporate its successful developments into the processes of its daily operation, it should learn from the implementation process (principle of the PDCA-SDCA cycle), and should restart the cycle of the aim setting. It should also consider the results of its annually repeated surveys of the demand and satisfaction, and all this should be fed back to the analytical phase.

The method of preparation and implementation of a plan of corrective actions may be freely chosen by the institution. The methodological guidance materials offer help in the use of the methods recommended by the Ministry of Education for this activity (how to use our achievements when setting new goals, what to do with our recurrent problems? description of the Institutional Model II: "Implementation of total quality management", methods of standardisation - case studies, the practical implementation of the PDCA-SDCA model - theory and a collection of case studies).

10. Controlled self-assessment

The institution should define and lay down in the written procedure for controlled self-assessment the

  • areas of self-assessment (it should cover all the processes of the institution, its organisational culture and the achievements of the institution),

  • frequency of the self-assessment process,

  • methods to be used in the self-assessment process (for evaluation, etc.).

10.1. Areas of self-assessment

  • Self-assessment should be extended over the characteristic features and conditions of the institution, particularly to the

  • role of the management in the development of the organisational culture,

  • definition and implementation of the strategy of the institution,

  • control of the existing processes,

  • comprehensive nature of the regulatory system,

  • method of considering the resources available,

  • method of considering the demands of the partners (children, pupils, parents, teachers, maintainer, etc.).

  • Self-assessment should cover the achievements accomplished by the institution, with special regard to the

  • extent of the involvement of the colleagues,

  • results of continuous improvement,

  • degree of satisfaction of the partners (children, pupils, parents, teachers, maintainers, etc.),

  • degree of the implementation of the regulatory system, effectiveness of the application,

  • results of the development of the organisational culture,

  • achievement and realisation of the aims set,

  • efficiency of the utilisation of resources.

10.2. Frequency of self-assessment

It is recommended to perform a self-assessment process comprising all fields of the operation of the institution every two years after the model has been built and implemented (first cycle), but it is compulsory to do so every four years.

10.3. Method of self-assessment

When selecting the method(s) of self-assessment, the institution has to see that the controlled self-assessment allows for the fullest possible demonstration of the activities of the institution, its achieved results and the relevant methods. In other words, self-assessment will reach its goal if the institution is able to identify its strengths and areas for improvement on the basis of objective evidence and facts, and as a result it can identify the areas where corrective actions and improvement are required.

The method of self-assessment

  • should correspond to the demands (specific features, if any) of the institution,

  • should be able to identify the strengths, the processes, the activities and the areas for improvement,

  • should be an objective one.

The institution may freely choose the method of self-assessment. The methodological guidance materials offer help in the use of the methods recommended by the Ministry of Education for this activity (set of requirements / criteria of quality awards / prizes, methodology of survey by questionnaire, proactive development, description of the Institutional Model II: "Implementation of total quality management").

In the knowledge of the results of the controlled self-assessment, every institution may decide whether to continue the further implementation of the current model, or to start with the development and implementation of the Institutional Model II: "Implementation of total quality management".

If the institution, before starting carrying out the controlled self-assessment, is of the view that it wishes to implement the Institutional Model II, the controlled self-assessment should be performed as described in the relevant chapter of the model description of the Institutional Model II.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

for the presentation of the COMENIUS 2000 Programme for Quality

Improvement in School Education and for the description of the

Institutional Model I - "Partner-focused operation"

Benchmarking:

Benchmarking is a management tool, which makes it possible for organisations and institutions to compare their performance to the results of other organisations and institutions realistically, by considering the given conditions, and subsequently to develop a strategy of quality improvement and programmes of continuous improvement.

Cause and effect, Ishikawa, or fishbone diagram:

Causal analysis is one of the most frequently employed tools of problem analysis or solution. It is done in teamwork, in the course of which the technique of brainstorming is also applied. The use of this method helps digging to the roots of the problems and mapping the possible causes.

Continuous improvement (PDCA-SDCA cycle):

Its basic model is the PDCA-cycle, introduced by W.A. Shewart, used by W.E. Deming and further developed by many others. According to it any activity can be broken down to four steps: P (plan) - planning; D (do) - implementation; C (check) - assessment and control; A (act) - implementation of corrective actions. Within thecycle the planned and desired result can be achieved on the basis of measuring, controlling and analysing (C) the difference between the planned (P) and the realised (D) activities as well as of the implementation of the adequate corrective actions(A). If the cycle is restarted, the experiences gained in the former cycle serve as starting points, patterns and norm (S - standard). This guarantees that the organisation, group, individual does not commit the same mistake again, thus the next cycle can be realised on a higher level of quality.

Organisational development:

This is a consciously controlled management activity based on plans, oriented towards the development of the internal relations and culture of the organisation, towards the further development of its strengths, thus enhancing the effectiveness of organisational co-operation.

Focus group:

A sociological process, taken from the practice of marketing, during which a 6-12 member group is formed out of the members of the target group, who would discuss the given topic in informal talks under the guidance of a moderator. Survey by focus group, as contrasted to survey by questionnaire, does not offer representatively in the sociological sense of the term, neither is it aimed at it. Its main merit is that it is capable of exploring the opinion of the group in greater detail and depth than the survey by questionnaire, and it also offers an opportunity to collate different opinions.

Involvement, participation:

Involving associates into the operation of the organisation, as a result of which they actively participate in the life of the institution, in preparing decisions, in the solution of problems explored and in continuous improvement.

Learning organisation:

The learning organisation is capable of exploring, analysing, improving and preventing mistakes. It not only reacts to the changes of the environment, but it precipitates change. Learning organisations develop the practice of sharing with others the tested methods of joint learning and discovery so that others do not have to reinvent already known and realised things; moreover, they create an organisational culture in which the conditions are favourable for a partner focused operation and the development / improvement of quality. A characteristic feature of a learning organisation is the continuously improving performance.

Local concept of quality:

The local concept of quality is elaborated by the kindergarten, school or hostel, after having got acquainted with the demands of the partners - children, pupils, parents, teachers and supporting staff members, the maintainer, the state (representing social expectations), etc. Consequently every institution has a unique concept of quality, corresponding to its own environment, mission and conditions, which naturally fits into the system of the general social expectations expressed by the legal and financial norms and the regulation of content. This local creative work makes quality a real, live and legitimate concept for the educational and teaching institutions. The local concept of quality has to appear in the educational and pedagogical programme of the institution as well.

Organisational culture:

This is a system of assumptions, values and convictions accepted and jointly interpreted by the leaders and the staff of the institution. It is the sum total of the behaviour patterns, ethical principles and values, which are transmitted, realised in practice, communicated and supported by the members of the institution.

The headmasters play a prominent role in its development and maintenance: their behaviour communicates the basic values as a model. It has a decisive role in the achievement of quality.

Partner-focused operation:

is an institutional operation, which focuses on satisfying the demands of the partners (those involved). Its characteristic feature is that it is able to respond swiftly to the rapidly changing partner needs and it puts its resources into the service of satisfying these needs. For this purpose the partners are identified, their demands, expectations and satisfaction are regularly measured.

Partners (interested parties):

are organisations and persons, which express expectations towards the operation of the institution and its results.

Principle of ensuring educational mobility and continuity:

Educational mobility and continuity are the basic values of the democratic educational systems, guaranteeing the openness of the institutional system and the school structure. The principle of ensuring educational mobility and continuity means that children are able to continue their studies in other institutions smoothly, with the least possible difficulty. Thus the assertion of this principle is intended to guarantee the utilisation and further building of the knowledge and skills acquired by the pupils earlier. The extent of ensuring educational mobility and continuity is defined by legal regulation (Act on School Education, documents of content regulation, etc.), local maintainer's regulation, and the willingness of the institutions to co-operate.

Proactive (initiating) management:

is a management approach, which puts the emphasis on continuous improvement on the basis of the demands and opinion of those involved. Proactive management does not treat crisis situations, which have already emerged, but aims at avoiding crisis situations by the treatment of problems consciously brought to the surface. Proactive management does not bypass problems and does not suppress conflicts, but strives to treat them properly in time.

Process:

Resources and activities which are in interrelationship with each other transform inputs into outputs, while adding values to these inputs.

Process control:

is an activity to reduce the variability of the process with the view of meeting the requirements reliably. To achieve it the exploration and elimination of the causes of variability are needed. Process control promotes the improvement of the operation and the involvement of the colleagues through successful practice, the standardisation of the tested methods, the identification of the steps, players and responsible persons (owners) of the process.

Quality:

The totality of the characteristics of an entity (product or service) that bear on its ability to satisfy as full as possible the stated and implied needs of the customers. (EN ISO 8402:1996)

Quality improvement:

Enhancement of the successfulness and efficiency of the intra-institutional operations, activities and processes in the interest of an ever fuller satisfaction of the demands of the institution and of the partners, and of promoting partners' satisfaction.

Quality management:

All elements of the tasks of institution management, which are oriented towards the development of the local concept of quality, towards defining the aims and tasks in the interest of quality improvement, and towards their realisation.

Quality-oriented financing of education:

Financing which supports activities and services serving the improvement of the quality of education and teaching. There are such elements in current financing too, such as in-service teacher training, the possibility of differentiated remuneration, supporting teachers' special libraries, funds for modernisation accessible by application for grants, systems of application for grants of local governments, etc. The aim of quality-oriented financing is to promote the efficient use of the supporting resources available on the level of the state and of maintainers.

Routes of learning:

The progress of children and pupils in the system of school education is called route. The 'route of learning' is composed of the curricula offered and the professional profiles (specialisation, special programmes, possibilities of professional training, etc.) of the various institutions of education and teaching.

Study of trend:

is a comparative analysis, which is based on the collection of data, and it is done by the same method and at pre-defined intervals, pertaining to the same subject.

Teamwork:

The expression 'group work' is already occupied in the pedagogical parlance. Therefore the expression 'teamwork' is used to cover the joint, group activities of the headmaster and the staff of an institution.

Tree diagram:

A method suited for the exploration of the possible causes of a problem and of the components of causes. It is named after its shape, where the subject or topic studied is the trunk of the tree, and the components are the ever-smaller branches.

IMPLEMENTATION SCHEDULE OF AND SUPPORT PROVIDED WITHIN THE COMENIUS 2000 QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION



Programme

Application

Implementa-tion phases

Conditions of entry

Support

provided

Institutional Model I

Partner focused operation

Announcement of application:

31 January, 2000.

Deadline of submission:

1 March, 2000.

Launch:

April 2000.

Average duration of building the model*: 9-15 months

Programme supported by the Ministry of Education**:

successful application



Voluntary programme:

no conditions

Quality Improvement Manual (programme description and methodological guidance materials)

Training (within the framework of the in-service teacher training)

Advisor (in the supported programme)

Availability of consultation (outside the supported programme)

Availability of external assessment

Income supplement to teachers participating in the Programme

Institutional Model II:

Implemen-

tation of total quality management

Announcement of application:

31 January, 2000.

Deadline of submission:

1 March, 2000.

Launch:

April 2000.

Average duration of building the model*: 18-24 months

Programme supported by the Ministry of Education**:

successful application

Quality Improvement Manual (programme description and methodological guidance materials)



Training (within the framework of the in-service teacher training)

Advisor (in the supported programme)

Availability of external assessment

Income supplement to teachers participating in the Programme

Institutional Model III:

Multiplication of quality improvement

-

-

In case of becoming a basis institution: successful elaboration of the institutional model I or II in one's own institution and successful external assessment***

Pre-qualifying exam and compulsory training in the performance of advisory and consultancy activities

For consultancy and advisory activities:

Training (preparing for advisory, consultancy activities - costs to be paid)

After successful pre-qualification and training payment for advisory or consultancy work in case of successful participation in competitions announced by the Ministry of Education

* The duration of elaborating the individual models may be more or less different due to the institutional conditions, and the different tools and methods used.

** The Ministry of Education wishes to make the commencement of the building of the Institutional Model I possible even in the case of those institutions, which have applied for THE participation in the supported programme but failed, or, which join the COMENIUS 2000 Quality Improvement Programme for School Education later. The Ministry of Education will extend the support to the implementation of the model to these institutions as well.

*** If an institution successfully develops the Institutional Model I or II, and this is confirmed by external evaluation as well, it has the opportunity of applying for becoming a role-model (reference) institution. Such institutions would serve as role models; consequently they can demonstrate their practice to other institutions. At the same time, meeting these requirements does not empower them to do consultancy or advisory work on their own in other institutions. This opportunity is available only to those teachers, or groups of teachers, who participate in the training, organised by the Ministry of Education, after having been successfully pre-qualified.



Annex

INSTITUTIONAL MODEL II - TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT



1 The PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle continues in the SDCA (Standardise, Do - implement, Check - assess and control, Act - perform the necessary corrective actions). Standardisation aims at making the already tested, good practice a permanent one, while the further steps of the cycle aim at further development / improvement.

2 In case of the open self-assessment, as a first step of the model the demands and the satisfaction of the partners should be described on the basis of the already existing knowledge. A survey of these demands and satisfaction was made when the educational and teaching programmes were prepared in the majority of institutions. A later step of the model aims at getting acquainted with the present demands and satisfaction of partners. A comparison of the results of the exploratory work, done in two steps, with different methods, offers an opportunity for the analysis of the changes in demands and satisfaction.

3 Transition and the set of requirements of entry and exit of the various levels should be basically defined by central regulation, which may be supplemented by, and made more refined by local regulation.

4 Representatively does not necessarily mean statistical proportions, it may mean methodologies based on differences in opinions, too.

 

 

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