In October, Jane Lewis and Jez Edwards spoke at a workshop for aspiring Directors of Children’s Services at the National College of School Leadership in Nottingham. Woodward Lewis was asked by the NCSL to give an overview of Positive Deviance – a new engagement and empowerment tool that delivers behaviour change within existing resources.

The aim was to ignite ideas and inspiration on how it can be applied in Children’s Services.

Positive Deviance has been used globally to solve education issues. Four inner state schools in New Jersey, USA are using it to improve student achievement and other intractable issues.  Save the Children is running a PD programme to increase the number of girls attending school in the Afar region of Ethiopia and there has been a marked increase in girl’s enrolment since the programme began.


Woodward Lewis worked with Little Waves Children’s Centre in Gosport,Hampshire to tackle the problem of low children’s attainment in the area.  Little Waves wanted to address this, putting the emphasis on parents as first educators, so Positive Deviance – which places the community at the heart of the process – was a perfect fit with its objectives.

The Centre hosted a pilot positive deviance community coaching exercise, which saw a group of parents come together and learn from each other on how to best deal with their child’s learning and development. Creating change from within the community fits with the Government’s big society agenda, while encouraging and motivating parents through peer groups. The group agreed that messy play, with parents and primary care-givers, was essential to child attainment and they learned from each other to create a practical messy play session.  No experts told them how to do it.  They ran a very successful play session together.  This has given them the confidence to try this themselves at home, and they all want to do more PD work.   All parents have the power and knowledge to turn around their child’s attainment; they just need to be given the confidence and motivation from drawing on internal wisdom. This is extremely quick, efficient and does not require huge monetary investment.

During the conference, Woodward Lewis covered the global examples and Jez Edwards, the community coach for the Little Waves project, a mum recruited from the Little Waves parents, discussed the process in detail. A graphic illustrator was on hand to provide images throughout and below are some of the drawings.
The workshop was a great success, with very positive feedback, and has led to several meetings to discuss taking the Positive Deviance process further within various Children’s Services bodies.
Our thanks go to the NCSL and Deloittes for inviting us.

Graphic recording from NCSL Positive Deviance presentation
source : http://www.woodward-lewis.co.uk/2011/10/woodward-lewis-provides-positive-deviance-insight-to-the-national-college-of-school-leadership-conference/



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