Introducing SWOT’s big brother – PESTLE

I don’t know about you but sometimes I get so engrossed in the little bits of nonsense that goes on in a school that I forget to take a breath (or have my lunch, or go to the toilet!) It is like when you have been staring at your screen for so long, and when you look out the window everything is a blur.

Sometimes it is good to remember that there is, actually, a world out there and that it is, unrelentingly, having an impact on what you do in your everyday life and work. So let’s take a moment to look at the big picture and use a PESTLE analysis to help.

PESTLE, used frequently in the business world, is an acronym (or mnemonic) for the external factors that most commonly effect the functioning of an organisation and is, I find, particularly relevant to a school;

The factors are; Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental

I’m sure you already have loads of influences leaping straight into your mind but I’ll list a few that spring towards me just to get you going;

Political – Politics infuriates me, mostly because as I can see it as the distraction that is supposed to be. Don’t want me to talk about the Funding Formula debacle? Throw in a grammar school threat? Don’t want me to realise that your manifesto is so scant to be practically non-existent? Threaten to change the FSM entitlement. Whatever your view, schools need to keep up with the political situation so that their curriculum planning is informed and their budget is accurate! Who are your local representatives? What do they know about education? Get them in to talk (you’ll need them on-side).

Economic – Brexit is still a big unknown. If the cost of living rises will more families be looking to schools to support them? How could you do that? And what is happening to funding? Up, down, fair or unfair? Who knows? Plan for every scenario!

Social – this includes housing (your staff need somewhere affordable to live), transport links and local infrastructure. You might have one big employer in your area, how does it effect you? What would happen if it moved? What are your demographics? Age, ethnicity and income profiles? Are they changing? How?

Technological – what is your broadband speed like? How easy is it for you to access IT support? Are you reliant on an authority or external supplier for advice? How can you stay that step ahead of the students? Who can help protect your data? How at risk are you from data corruption?

Legal – Do you have a relationship with legal support? How do you ensure you are up to date with employment law? What if a member of staff falls over a manhole cover? Compliance, compliance, compliance!

Environmental – Are you in the city or by the sea? Is your local population transient? Do you have industry near you that effects you environment? Are you in an AONB? Are any of your buildings listed? How do you ‘sit’ in your environment and how does it impact your school.

Once you start thinking about a PESTLE it is hugely interesting and made even more so because every one will be different. Give it a go, you’ll be amazed at how vulnerable your school is to external factors but realise that you can prepare for change.

Forewarned is forearmed and all that!

12 comments

    • Hello, thank you for visiting. I love applying business theory to the leadership of education but I know that I can only touch the surface of PESTLE in a short blog. My hope is that it encourages the reader to investigate further as there is masses of information out there.

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