Reflections of an AQS Activator

By Poonam Choksi,
Operations Manager, Adhyayan

While sipping a cup of my evening tea with a colleague, he asked me the number of training sessions I had completed so far for the Adhyayan Quality Standard Programme. I started my counts which seemed to be on my fingertips, but found very difficult to track and realised that I have lost the count! I had to check my calendar to get the number right which is 27 training sessions in last one year. I was pleased to discover that and began reflecting upon my journey as a trainer and the teams I worked alongside during this period.

The schools that signed up for the Adhyayan Quality Standard (AQS) programme in the last year already had good leadership in place and thus the interest to transform the school for better was very high amongst the stakeholders. This was evidently witnessed in the enthusiasm and responsiveness of their teams which were formed for the self-review. The first training I conducted alongside Spokey Wheeler, our international director comprised of a very receptive group of people representing a school that strongly promotes the culture of honesty and transparency. It was good to witness the comfort level all the stakeholders were sharing with each other in undertaking stimulating yet challenging discussions about their school’s performance. The ease at which they spoke about the evidence they collected was commendable and I still have a striking memory of a parent raising the concern about the transport system that needed urgent attention.

For the review purpose, the school is asked to form a team that comprises of representatives from different stakeholder groups i.e. administrators, teachers, non-teaching staff, students, alumni, parents and management. Although, this varied group do have the opportunity to work alongside each other, this programme brings them all together under one roof for a common purpose and outcome i.e. to undertake an honest review of the school which is inclusive in nature and where every stakeholder have a voice! The power of group work is observed on the training day where a student interviews the administrator to discuss the role and responsibility of the staff in the school. A parent who takes a learning walk around the school to collect evidences shares his joy to witness the care and attention he sees towards the children by the support staff. An alumnus who walks into the classroom for observations comments about the welcoming and vibrant environment. Every participant stakeholder have different observations to make and when they all come together to make those difficult judgements about the school’s performance, it is commendable to see how different perspectives help the team to make more accurate judgements. A group work always leads to most effective outcomes for individuals and to the wider teams. I am very appreciative of the school leaders who are encouraging participation from all stakeholder groups for the evaluation programme and looking forward to be a part of many more vibrant groups.