An ‘open door policy’ is a communication strategy where a principal and other leaders encourage staff and students to come to the leadership team’s offices at any time to discuss issues (sometimes personal ones), ask questions, get or give feedback, report problems or share ideas. An open door policy is designed to increase collaboration between a leadership team and the staff/student body and to promote mutual respect and trust.
It enables an academy to speed up progress towards agreed academy goals and the policy works even more effectively if an issue is spotted and a possible solution is suggested. This emphasises the team approach, contributes hugely to academy improvement and enhances empowerment and staff/student voice. Staff morale improves where there is an effective open door policy, particularly when ideas, which are suggested by them, become policy.
We are proud of our open door policy here and I have a couple of recent examples of how it works to best effect below:
- Two students in year 11 approached me to ask if we could consider providing them with a space at lunchtime so they could work and shelter from the elements.
Decision: We are providing them with a room to coincide with mock examinations but the onus is on them not to abuse the privilege.
- A teacher suggested we provide simple positive feedback to teachers following learning visits to classrooms.
Decision: Postcards have been designed by the teaching and learning team and are already being used. They will be more evident as the year progresses.
An academy which is open to staff and student voice and which embraces ideas from these stakeholders is one where there is trust, humility, service and respect. Leaders who seek the views of others recognise the merits of sharing and supporting each other. The more these views are taken on board, the more they are generated and this has to be good for academy improvement.
Ms J Heath