Managing Resistance to Change

How do you deal with staff who aren't buying in?

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"Without change there is no innovation, creativity or incentive for improvement"

We all know the words from William Pollard above are true, but how many of us really relish change? How many of our staff in schools seek out opportunities to change and how many dig their heels in and require more than a little persuasion?

Education is awash with new developments, documents and technological advancements. Certainly here in Wales the pace of change has been rapid and seems to be constantly accelerating. Are our teachers keeping pace?

As the demands placed upon teachers and school leaders become ever greater the additional burden of managing change weighs heavy on the shoulders of any Senior Leadership Team. Headteachers are increasingly being provided with training from Change Management professionals. The language of business in the form of targets, outcomes and systems is ever more present in our schools, but is it actually having an impact?

Over the last few months, we have had the pleasure of working with a large number of schools, leaders and teachers across the UK and something that we have heard again and again, is that staff feel they either don't need to, or won't change.

Imagine the scenario for a moment. Weeks are spent surveying senior leaders to identify staff needs, staff complete online questionnaires, pupil books are scrutinised and a entire tranche of support is co-created alongside the teachers, consisting of digital and hard copy bespoke research-informed resources designed to specifically address the needs of the staff to drive improvement. Most staff are delighted, and get cracking with trialling things directly with pupils, but there are always a significant few who resist. Why?

This scenario is something nearly every leader will experience in some shape or form. A situation where they've been forensic in their approach to supporting change, feel they've created absolutely the right support for staff, have agreed clear and manageable targets and yet some still say it's not enough. So why does this happen?

It happens because work is not just work. Work is about how someone defines themselves, it's about how they feel about themselves, their skills and their accomplishments. It's also about relationships with colleagues, how other people view you and how that makes each of us feel.

To be successful, organisational change needs to take into account how a change in working method or practice also means a change to the social aspect of the job for each individual involved. To manage resistance to change this social aspect needs to be taken into account and actively dealt with. This is the key to getting everyone on board.

We provide specialist bespoke support to schools and education leaders to manage the changes that are part of everyday life in school. If you would like to know more about how we can help you and your staff, contact us at and we'll be happy to set up a free initial consultation.

A Little More About Us

Who are we? - We are Finola & Jane, Literacy & Numeracy specialists, with 35+ years of teaching, training & leadership experience between us.

What's our experience? - We have both worked for Welsh Government supporting schools & senior leaders across Wales. We have held senior leadership posts, delivered support to strategic education advisers, both hold school governor posts and have published curriculum support guidance with Oxford University Publishing...but if you need to know more visit our website for testimonials from schools we've worked with.

Why should you book our support? - Put simply, because we believe in impact. We do exactly what our name suggests. Our workshop keeps things simple and ensures school actions really work. Our focus is always on delivering measurable impact for pupils