Seeds of decline often sown in good times
Seeds of decline often sown in good times

Seeds of decline often sown in good times

Schools are often judged by their enrolment numbers. While it is definitely a key indicator it is often a lag indicator, with the seeds of success or decline sown years earlier. Eddee has reviewed the enrolment data for the last 15 years for every school and community in Australia. Our analysis reveals that when it comes to enrolments the only constant is change.

There are significant similarities between school success and the critical business success factors outlined by renowned business author Jim Collins.
In his book “How the Mighty Fall”, Collins identifies five stages of business decline, noting that in the first three stages business sales continue to rise. Swap the sales focus for a school enrolments view and the story is much the same for schools, particularly as families are reluctant to swap schools even as their satisfaction diminishes.

The problem for schools is that by the time their reputation in the community declines it is evident in the enrolment numbers they may find themselves in Stage 4 – “grasping for salvation”. Fortunately, this can be avoided, the following are tips on how to tackle decline at each stage:

  1. The best leaders never presume they’ve reached ultimate understanding of all the factors that brought them success.
  2. When an organisation grows beyond its ability to fill its key seats with the right people, it has set itself up for a fall – make sure you maintain standards even if it takes a little longer when best available is not good enough.
  3. School’s when faced with parent concerns should not assume that such troubles or difficulties are “temporary” or “cyclic” or “not that bad”.
  4. When the school finds itself with a problem, don’t look for a quick solution, understand that the problem has taken time to develop and the solution will also take time to implement.
  5. In hard times, it is necessary to be calm, clear headed and have a focused approach. To reverse decline, be rigorous about what not to do.

It is important to understand that every institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline. But decline, it turns out, is largely self-inflicted, and the path to recovery is largely in our own hands.

Eddee helps schools to understand their current standing in the community and how to improve it. Find out more here.