Deming literature has for some years quoted two examples of Deming in action in schools in the United States. Mount Edgecumbe High School in Alaska has for some years been working on continuous improvement, involving students at every stage, and in 1992 Theresa Hicks, an elementary school teacher from Wilmington, Ohio, outlined her progress towards applying Deming principles for the British Deming Association.
Since then, Deming methods have been used in a number of British schools. Malcolm Greenwood and Helen Gaunt's book gives up-to-date examples from the authors' own experience.
At the time of the book's conception, both were on the staff of Bradford Grammar School. Malcolm Greenwood was head of economics for nearly 30 years. Helen Gaunt was a maths teacher and senior mistress. Their management ideas were formed in 1989 when Mr Greenwood read Deming while devising a new business studies A-Level course. Helen Gaunt was studying for a part-time MBA which brought her into contact with John Oakland, Exxon Chemical professor of total quality management at the University of Bradford. They developed what was, in effect, a mini-MBA course in business studies with lots of pupil participation, and with TQM as a central theme.
Ms Gaunt is now mathematics co-ordinator at Dixons City Technology College in Bradford, where she has the opportunity to use many of her ideas, and Malcolm Greenwood is senior teaching fellow in managerial economics at the University of Bradford Management Centre.
At Dixons CTC, explained Helen Gaunt, "TQM is an underlying philosophy. The procedures are embedded in all areas." She points particularly to the termly targets she has negotiated with members of her department, with a copy on the departmental notice board. "Staff know what is expected of them, and they are capable of achieving what is expected."
A group of Rochdale schools meets to share ideas, and the LEA is a corporate member of the British Deming Association. A good deal of interest in TQM has been attracted from a number of neighbouring authorities.
The British Deming Association is helping 10 schools across the Midlands to work towards introducing the Deming approach.