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Responding to the 100-Day Plan (cheat code)

By Steve Saville and Rebecca Thomas

ERO will be supporting the implementation of the two new 100-Day Plan priorities as part of their review process.

a) Student mobile phones

b) An hour of reading, writing and maths.

The BOT will need to attest to complying with these policies, as part of the Board Assurance Statement.

As we enter this change initiative, information will be collated by ERO to give a picture on how implementation is going, and the impact they are having on learner outcomes. In what ways will schools give evidence for this?

Will it be students' voice? 

Community voice? 

Or,  the latest summative data? 

How will we know the shifts we see are attested to two simultaneous changes?

There is much to think about when giving ERO an insight into how these two change initiatives are going, before we can be certain of the impact they are having. And, are ERO ready to accept both the positive and negative impacts we may report?

The Consequences of Change

“Whenever you remove a fence, always pause long enough to ask why it was there in the first place.” -G.K. Chesterton

A school is a highly interdependent ecosystem where, if you change or disrupt one part of the system, then the consequences are likely to be felt throughout the whole system. Before we embark on these initiatives and measure their impact, the analogy of a Jenga game might be an apt place to begin.

Think of a school as a Jenga tower - the game based on stacking and restacking wooden blocks whilst ensuring that the tower does not collapse. This is a useful image to use as it captures the idea that any change to a school system will cause wobbles, some of which can be quite unpredictable. All of these potential wobbles can derail the initiative and become frustrating obstacles. Each wobble also has the potential to impact the initiative's intention, with both positive and negative connotations.

Think of the initial tower, (before the game commences) as a school, if you don't touch any of the wooden blocks the tower remains standing, nothing changes. Now think of the two incoming initiatives as being one of the individual blocks, by moving this block this movement runs the risk of unsettling the stability of the tower and causing it to wobble. 

Using this analogy, help staff and communities understand that any change in a school will cause it to wobble (a bit) and this has to be realised and carefully considered as part of the planning and implementation process. Moving any block too quickly, clumsily, or from a precarious position, could well bring the whole tower tumbling down.


Removing, or altering, a single element can destabilise the entire structure. For instance, banning mobile phones may seem straightforward, but it could have ripple effects on communication, access to learning resources, student/teacher relationships and even student engagement. Similarly, introducing an extra hour of core subjects could disrupt existing schedules, impact non-academic activities, and potentially exacerbate achievement disparities if not implemented equitably.

The original Kujenga game (played in Ghana) encourages strategic thinking, patience and dexterity. So what strategic advice have schools been given on these two potential 'wobble promoting' giants? Where do we start? What evidence will we collect along the way? How will we know if they are having an impact?

To give a little comfort to you all as you face this challenging change in structure (that has the potential to ripple impacts throughout your ecosystem), we want to offer some support. In the spirit of playfulness, ELV would like to offer an imaginary ‘cheat code’ that could be applied to your game.

Step 1: Identify Potential Consequences

To mitigate the risks, schools should proactively identify potential consequences, both positive and negative, across various domains as they begin implementation.

All of the 'wobbles' need to be thought through and recorded, these could include:

Cultural and Social Wobbles

  • Has the initiative had an impact on students’ sense of belonging and cultural identity? (Are these impacts positive or negative?)

  • Is there a potential to further marginalise underrepresented groups?

  • What impact has it had on whānau engagement and communication?

Pedagogical Wobbles

  • What have the challenges (positive and negative) been in maintaining and sustaining student engagement?

  • What has the potential impact been on non-core subjects and extra curricular activities?

  • Where are the opportunities for culturally responsive instruction?

Logistical Wobbles

  • Resource allocations?

  • PLD?

  • Changes to routines?

Technological Wobbles

  • Equity considerations?

  • Opportunities for leveraging technology in innovative ways?

  • Access to digital resources?

Whilst not an exhaustive list (the best lists would be co-constructed within your school community), you might also considering monitoring the positive and negative impact on other domains such as: staffing, community, equity and of course learning.

Any wobble, be it negative or positive, can add up to a very big impact on one of the many school systems. By being aware of these consequences and 'trade offs' you can predict and plan in order to mitigate the potential problems. If not, these problems could bring the tower down and compromise the success of the initiative or change.

Move too many bricks at once, and the tower will collapse, so the rate of change must not be too dramatic, or quick.

(You could of course refuse to play the Jenga game - but this forfeit may end up carrying a fine lol!)

Step 2: Priority and Action

Having identified these potential wobbles, select those that are obviously needing to be prioritised, and for each develop an action plan to ensure that the positives are protected and the negatives are dealt with.

It is important to consider both positive and negative consequences - but to be honest, it is more important to identify the negatives early on before they can affect the stability of the tower.

This analogy may help you gather the information you will need to share with ERO, BOT, whānau and students - or it may support you to inform your policies as we face the 100-Day plan together.

Take ownership, and be empowered in a way that suits your school and your learners.

Be the light in the dark!

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