Seven Dimensions of School Operations

Through extensive research, we have identified the Seven Dimensions of School Operations that most strongly influence the quality of a school’s offerings and services. The seven dimensions of work are interconnected and interdependent, and are essential to any healthy education and learning system.

Three dimensions that focus on the work done to optimise student achievement and inspire a love of learning cohere in what we have dubbed the ‘Golden Triangle’. This concerns the meaning of the contribution made in each level of work, the context of the work, and the changes in it that are a key feature of continuous improvement.

The seven dimensions focus on all aspects of a school’s services, including curriculum design, shaping and delivery of assessment, reporting and record-keeping. They translate the school’s values into action in a culture that secures the well-being of learners and staff and a commitment to improvement as a norm in all school activities, and ensures alignment with the school’s Mission, effecting excellence in the performance of school operations.

The Seven Dimensions Explained


The meaning of “the job to be done” in the contexts in which it adds value. For example, cultural (for example see Collaboration below) or legal (see Compliance below) or ‘Capital’ constraints may make it easy or very difficult to ‘get the job done’. For example, a focus on learner progress and achievement is often lost when political or financial interests of vested interests are threatened by changes to how a job is done. The contexts referred to in the Indigo Schools’ Framework include the work done at different levels of work by people in their roles.


What must be done to ‘get the job done’? This refers to what must be done, by when, within constraints that exist and how progress towards objectives and outcomes will be tracked and measured. Tracking progress and achievements is usually connected to a timeline with achievements measured in terms of the quantity and quality of the outcomes delivered against the cost of the resources used in the process.


How can the ‘job to be done’ be done even better? Continuous improvement and disruptive change that displaces how a job had previously been done is a new normal. When a new way that makes how things have previously been done redundant, the ‘disruptive change’ transforms current best practice. In the stages of school-development the ‘fragmented’ approach is improved by establishing a systematic (often school-wide) approach to curriculum delivery and assessment supported by improvements to all of the issues associated with the other operational dimensions.

When a school has ‘formalised’ its teaching and learning programmes the challenge it next confronts is to address learners’ needs, interests and potential in personalised (or customised) learning programmes. Inquiry-based learning is a means most often used to develop the skills that are needed to learn independently. When students engage in an inquiry they are focused on the exploration of topics of personal interest that broaden and deepen their mastery of an inquiry cycle and stretch them to test their potential, guided and coached by their teachers. 

A focus on the individual needs, interests and potential of learners, the ‘focused approach’, adds a dimension to the role of the teacher by emphasising the management of the teaching and learning programme along with the coaching and mentoring of learners as they assume responsibility for mastery of a dynamic cycle. The Dynamic Cycle is essential to independent problem-solving in almost any learning context.


Securing the ‘Capital’ to get the job done. The capital needed to get the job done in any situation takes many forms. For example, apart from financial capital, ‘leadership capital’ in any situation is made clear in the willingness and capacity to take responsibility for overcoming a challenge. A budget and flow of cash may be the fuel needed to drive work, but in most situations getting the job done safely and well requires social, cultural, intellectual, and infrastructural capital like facilities and equipment. 


Creating conditions (including a climate) conducive to getting the job done with great satisfaction. Culture is a slippery concept difficult to define. Within Indigo Schools’ projects, the culture that prevails in any situation is when the values of the school are made visible through action.

In both Collaboration and Compliance there is an internal (to the organisation or team) and external dimension to creating a successful culture along the spectrum of problem-solving complexity that ranges across the five levels of work.


Building and maintaining the ‘tribes’ and ‘teams’ that thrive in getting the job done consistently well. 


Upholding the values aligned with the School’s Mission and observing the rules applied to getting the job done safely and well. (Q5)

A quick audit can be undertaken to determine whether a school is ready to transition between the phases of school development. Each dimension must be operating at at least a four-star level, with observable outcomes within each dimension the priority, not inputs.

Further information about how the Seven Dimensions are applied within the Indigo Schools Framework can be found in the Primer on our Resources Page, or please email if you’d like to learn how the Dimensions can be successfully applied by work teams within your school.

Interested in transforming your school? Let’s start a conversation.

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