The use of systems thinking for school improvement : reflecting on the implementation of the integrated quality management systems (IQMS) in the Sweetwaters Ward.
This study is an investigation into how systems thinking was used in a school improvement initiative, which involved the implementation of the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) in a ward with twenty-two schools. The Superintendent of Education Management (SEM), as the practitioner, initiated the study in the form of an action research, using the soft systems methodology (SSM). The preference of the SSM was justified for its suitability to explore problem contexts of a pluralist complex nature. The School Development Team (SDT) Chairpersons were the participants that went through the learning process and provided insights from their worldviews and experiences as the leaders tasked with bringing about the requisite transformation and guidance aimed at the professional development of educators, their performance measurement and whole school evaluation. The reflective study interrogates the worldviews, perspectives, attitudes and values of the participants, promotes the use of systems tools and techniques and leads to the development of conceptual models which might constructively enhance school reform. The findings of this study highlight educators’ ability to engage in reflective activities and self-directed explorations, shared experience of educators learning to learn together and continuous professional development. The reflective educators learn to recall, consider and evaluate experiences in relation to a broader educational purpose. The study explores the possibility of using the IQMS systemically in action as leverage to enhance school improvement and bring about positive change in educator accountability.