Business Theory in Education

SWOT now?

SWOT Analysis

Congratulations! You’ve done your SWOT analysis. But SWOT now? You’ve chosen a not-too-broad section of your school. (Trying to look at a whole organisation in one go is often too massive a task). You’ve researched, discussed, gathered opinion, consulted and analysed.

You have your SWOT. Now what?

There are lots of websites telling you what a SWOT is and how to produce it, but not so much on what to do with it when you have it, probably because the variables are endless. But there isn’t much point in going to all that effort to produce a framework for your research if it is just going to sit in your file as proof that you must be a leader…you’ve done a SWOT analysis!

It is sometimes counter-productive to share the SWOT table itself with the uninitiated but it needs to be converted into competitive advantage for your school and (after all, the reason we’re all here) be of benefit to your students.

So, let’s look at some possible examples;

Your SWOT analysis looked at SEND provision in your school. You have listed the fact that you have a long-standing SENCO as a Strength. He/She is well regarded in your area and achieves visible results both academically and pastorally. So with your team now think about;

  1. Do you effectively communicate that Strength on your website, newsletters and prospectus? Do your “customers” know it is a Strength?
  2. How do you use your SENCO to impact all students or just the ones eligible for support? Could they improve outcomes for a wider body of learners.
  3. Is your SENCO involved in training your other staff?
  4. Have you also listed your SENCO as an Opportunity? Could you offer their expertise to support staff in other schools?
  5. Are you over-reliant on your SENCO so have you also listed it as a Threat? What plans do you have in place should they leave or retire?

These questions can now be converted into tangible actions; Communicate your success in SEND to your community, find ways of disseminating their practice outside the department, make local schools aware that you are open to collaboration, and also plan for staff succession.

Your SWOT has succeeded in its purpose to deliver school improvement.

Your next SWOT analysis looked at your site and building stock. It is clear that, due to the age of your school, you have some small Weaknesses that, while not currently effecting your ability to deliver the curriculum, will need to be addressed to ensure long term sustainability and anticipated growth.

  1. Use what you have found to draw up a five year premises plan.
  2. Talk to other schools and experts in your community to gather advice and experience.
  3. Sort out your “wants” from your “needs”.
  4. Prioritise the “needs” (I know that sounds rather obvious but you must be focused and ruthless.)
  5. Show stakeholders your plan and consider Opportunities for fundraising, grants and bids for capital.

Again, your SWOT analysis started you on a path of specific action to achieve resolution of a future problem, also leading to benefits for your staff and students.

The usefulness of a SWOT analysis cannot be underestimated, but it is what you do with it when you have finished it that is the real test of its capacity to improve your school.

2 thoughts on “SWOT now?”

  1. I’ve been through this process a number of times for a range of organisations in the public and private sector with varying degrees of success. Your final sentence makes the most valuable point. Unless some action comes out of the exercise then that’s just what it is, exercise, and not the real thing.

    It’s worth setting the rules of engagement when a team starts the SWOT analysis and at the end link some SMART targets to the SWOT and give actions to specific members of your team. The analysis will then have some real value.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. You are right. I think some (not all) schools tend to look at these tools and apply them to their organisation because they think they should not because they are looking for a specific outcome.

      They try and look at the whole organisation and then struggle to give it any meaning or secure any change.

      I’m very keen on using business tools in the school improvement process as I think they can all be suitably and usefully adapted.


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