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W. T. White High School’s Environmental Analysis Essay

Sources of information for scanning the macro-environment of the school

Any social or scientific research implies fulfilling substantial work on data collection. In many cases, an investigator has to combine different methods of data collection and use different data sources to get a many-sided picture of the studied phenomenon. Considering that a school’s external environment consists of several broad sectors, such as economical, social, technological, political and other, it is reasonable to collect information from the sources of different kinds.

Particularly, the following information sources can be used:

Elements of the external environment studied with the help of observation

An investigator may attend events and visit institutions that influence the schools’ life and detect existing trends. The task of a person involved in observation is to record, interpret and use the results of their observation (Jupp & Sapsford, 2006, p. 58).

Experience of specialists studied through interviews and questionnaires (p. 93)

An investigator may develop a range of questions based on the theme of study and ask them to the representatives of the institutions that refer to the school’s external environment. As a result, the role of the information source is fulfilled by professionals who are aware of the changes taking place in different sectors of the environment.

Printed and electronic sources (p. 124)

Using books, articles and websites, a researcher can get familiarized with the results of other people’s interpretation and analysis of the primary data collected by them. These sources are especially useful in cases when fulfilling observation, or an interview is impossible.

Documents (p.138)

This range includes institutional and government publications (Goyal & Goyal, 2011, p. 39). When the changes that take place in different sectors are noticed by the representatives of the government or the local powers, it becomes necessary to pass the new laws and issue new regulatory documents to develop these changes or, backwards, restrict them.

Recommendations for decision-makers in assessing and adjusting an organization’s direction to a changing environment

According to Lynn, change takes place at five different levels:

  1. cultural environment,
  2. institutional,
  3. managerial,
  4. technical,
  5. political assessment (cited in Longo, Cristofoli, 2007, p. 5).

A school’s environment exists in the state of continuous change, which makes school authorities and representatives detect and interpret changes, and make the corresponding decisions. The following recommendations refer to change management in a school:

  1. The existing change is crucial, but not the only component to take into account when making a decision. Having noticed the necessity for a change, a decision-maker should develop the purpose and the essence of this change. Thus, a change should be fulfilled in accordance with the organization’s missions, strategy and aims.
  2. Use diverse and reliable information to make a decision for change. It is important to embrace the data of different kinds and from different sources in order to consider all the important details and make an effective decision.
  3. Considering that a school is a public institution, it is necessary to take the interests of different stakeholders into account (p. 8). While some of the stakeholders are the direct consumers of the organization’s services, the others benefit from their public value. Analogically, apart from students, the direct consumers of the school’s service, the whole society indirectly benefits from it.
  4. Pay attention to the internal environment (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004). One of the factors that may impact the success of a change is the internal resistance to change. It is necessary to introduce the change, its essence and aims to the individuals involved in the organization’s life.
  5. A change should not be an isolated action; effective change management requires continuity and strategic thinking. A decision-maker should analyze the circumstances and consequences of changes in order to make their change management consistent and effective.

Scan of the school’s internal and external environments


The concept of SWOT analysis can be effectively used in environmental scanning: while an investigation of the internal environment helps find an organization’s strengths and weaknesses, a scan of the external environment provides the background for understanding its opportunities and predict the possible threats. Having used such research methods as observation, interview and study of secondary information sources, I have fulfilled the environmental scan for W. T. White High School.

Internal Environment

To scan the school’s internal environment, it is necessary to

  1. outline the elements included in this notion,
  2. define the criteria of assessment,
  3. choose the optimal methods of scanning.

The internal environment includes a wide range of elements; the key components are:

  1. physical resources,
  2. technology,
  3. quality of teaching,
  4. organization of the learning process,
  5. emotional environment.

The criteria of assessment of the internal environment are based on the function of a school as an institution: it should provide students with powerful opportunities for broad, up to date education, broad knowledge, personal growth, development of skills, readiness to the successful adult life and professional success (Hanson, 2010). Therefore, the condition of the abovementioned elements should satisfy this aim.

The scan of the internal environment of a school may be fulfilled with the help of observations and interviews. This scan implied the use of both methods due to the broad range of the objects of study.

The following issues were studied:

  1. Physical environment. The design and the state of the W. T. White High School’s physical environment can be assessed as good. The environment is safe and comfortable for students’ learning and spending their free time. Much space is the additional strength of the school, as it provides the opportunity to organize the learning process and carry out various events without discomfort and difficulties.
  2. Technology. After interviewing the Head of IT and having made the observation, I have concluded that the School technology system is outdated, which is the institution’s significant weakness. The new hardware and software should be purchased, and technology should be more actively incorporated into the learning process.
  3. Teaching process. Evaluating teachers’ performance is a complicated task that requires a thorough many-sided study. To fulfil the preliminary scan, I attended lessons and interviewed students. The study showed that the teaching process is conducted on a high level but requires introducing innovations.
  4. Learning process. This aspect also includes a wide range of components that require attentive study. Within the borders of the scan, I saw that the students’ performance is high, and the students are highly motivated in class. Besides, there are good opportunities for the students’ personal growth and skill development due to a number of interesting extracurricular activities.
  5. To study the emotional environment at school, I interviewed the school psychologists and seven students from different classrooms. The preliminary study showed that most students characterize the school environment as friendly and comfortable.

Thus, the school’s internal environment contains a range of significant strengths that should be developed and certain weaknesses that require School authorities’ decisions. The most burning issue to solve is the upgrade of the school technology, which will also influence the organization and quality of the teaching and learning processes.

External Environment

Based on the theoretical background provided in (Goyal & Goyal, 2011, p. 8), the school’s external environment includes:

  1. economic factors,
  2. social and cultural factors,
  3. political and administrative factors,
  4. legal factors,
  5. other factors, such as demography, international environment and oth.,
  6. educational environment.

The last component includes the national and foreign educational institutions, as well as a wide range of organizations serving the educational process.

Each of these factors is very broad and should be studied both separately and linked with the other factors. Within the scan of the W. T. White High School’s external environment, I have fulfilled the preliminary study of the educational environment, economic, social and cultural factors, and demographic issues. For these aims, I used printed and electronic sources.

The population growth in Dallas is predicted to intensify, which will create additional needs in high school education. This should be interpreted not as a threat, but rather as an opportunity, as the service of the school will be in demand, which always serves for a school’s benefit. However, the requirements for high school education are constantly growing, especially in the technological dimension.

If the school does not implement a technology project, this external factor may threat the level of its education and the evaluation of its educational level. As for the economic environment, there is enough evidence for stating that competition for the working places will continue to grow, which also increases the requirements for education. Considering economic, social and technological changes, a school should also adapt innovations in order to cope with the threat of staying behind the general progress.

Interview with a School Representative

The W. T. White High School Principal, Name Surname, is responsible for strategic planning at school. I interviewed the Principal about the use of environmental scanning in her planning activities.

Q: Where do you get the information about the school’s external environment?

A: I actively communicate with the other principals of the schools of our district and beyond it. We exchange the information, and I must say, I often learn something valuable—something that I should take into account when making decisions about the school’s operation.

Q: What about the printed and electronic sources? Do you find something valuable in them?

A: Yes, first of all, as a School Principal, I have to get familiarized with numerous regulatory documents. Besides, I read local newspapers and magazines to understand the environment that surrounds our school. These external events and trends sooner or later echo in the life of the school and our students.

Q: What factors do you pay attention the most? Economical? Technological? Social? OR some other?

A: In my opinion, it is extremely important to understand the cultural and social environment in our city. Our students are the young people from the families that exist within this environment, and understanding it helps me and the teachers understand the students and teach them more effectively.

Q: As a person responsible for strategic planning at school, do you use the results of your environmental scanning in strategic planning?

A: Yes, I do. Or, at least I try to do. The most difficult thing about it is to notice the trend at the proper time. For example, our Head of IT insists on the necessity of upgrading the School IT system. This information was very valuable for me, as I have got used to the traditional organization of the teaching process and stay satisfied with its results. However, the Head’s arguments made me admit the necessity for change. IT is the future of our society, and it is the background for the professional success of our students – these ideas made me include the technological issues into my strategic school plan.


Goyal, A. & Goyal, M. (2011). Environment for Managers. New Delhi: V. K. Enterprises.

Hanson, R. (2010). . Overcoming Bias. Web.

Jupp, V. & Sapsford, R. (2006). Data Collection and Analysis. London: SAGE, 2006.

Jones, J., Aguirre, D. A., & Calderone, M. (2004). . Strategy+Business. Web.

Longo, F. & Cristofoli, D. (2007). Strategic Change Management in the Public Sector: An EFMD European Case Book. Chichester, West Sussex, England; Hoboken, N. J.: John Wiley & Sons.

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