Joleen McCool, Improvement Co-ordinator at Fife Council Education & Childrens Service

Over the last 7 years I have been on my own improvement journey not dissimilar to the graphic below.

A little bit about me

I work and live in Fife, and I am a mum to an awesome 10-year-old.

My career has been diverse, I have worked in the voluntary sector in Glasgow, NHS Fife Health Improvement for over 12 years and more recently Fife Education and Children Services.

My work has always been focused on Improvement with a focus on YP, families and local communities. I have been very fortunate to have loved all of my roles and had the opportunity to lead diverse improvement work, from coordinating a local Sexual Health Service for YP, creation of a community kitchen where families could come together to chat and share mealtimes, to tackling the attainment gap.  

My Why? 

I am passionate about equity and tackling social disadvantage.

I remember vividly joining a school nurse undertaking Primary 1 health assessments and being struck by the stark difference of opportunity and wellbeing for the little people presenting. The inequalities for one child to the next was instantly recognisable and a sobering slap in the face on the importance of early intervention to ensure all our young people have equal opportunities.

Joy at Work

I gain job satisfaction from working alongside those at the frontline to deliver better services and improve outcomes for children, young people and local communities. 

The World of Quality Improvement

Despite previously working in Health Improvement, I didn’t enter the world of Quality Improvement until taking up post in Fife Education and CS and undertaking the Scottish Improvement Leaders Programme. This was a game changer, providing a framework to ensure that our limited capacity to dedicate to improvement is purposeful and effective. Lack of time is always a huge barrier to improvement so a framework to maximise our efforts is key.

Whether you Love or loathe data, I instantly understood that without meaningful measurement our efforts are futile and started on a journey to objectively test and understand what leads to the impact we are seeking.  Just for the record, I love run charts!

QI Buddies

I appreciate that it is not all about the ‘method’ therefore I don’t underestimate the importance of good relationships to successful improvement.  Improvement can be tough, isolating and a never-ending iterative cycle of change, and I have come to understand the importance of connecting with like minded people (QI thinkers).  CYPIC colleagues have been a lifeline in that respect.

QI – Endless Potential

Within Fife we have QI programmes across the curriculum to raise attainment in Writing, Reading, Listening & Talking and to reduce children’s distressed behaviours.  We are working hard to maximise QI capacity and expertise from across our Children’s Services Partnership to enhance our faculty of subject matter experts delivering programmes as well as ensuring we have multiagency teams leading improvement work aligned to our key priorities. Testament to these efforts is that we recently delivered a QI programme focused on a ‘Whole Family Support to Improve School Attendance’ with education and voluntary Sector colleagues working collaboratively to ‘Get it Right’ for our children, young people and families.   Next session we are continuing to develop our catalogue of Quality Improvement work as well as looking to support schools across a cluster to raise second level numeracy attainment for P7 and S1 pupils.

Looking to the future!

I feel excited by the enormity of Improvement work happening across our Education and Children Services both locally in Fife and Nationally.

After a hard slog of testing and distilling a wealth of knowledge on ‘what works’ to improve outcomes for children, young people and families we are at the stage of shifting our efforts to effective implementation, spread and scale. 

I don’t underestimate the challenge ahead but see the bright possibilities and I’m excited to get to work.

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