As my more regular readers will know, I am drawn to philosophy and critical thinking – and believe their wider study and application in our schools would see our young people and those who work alongside them better equipped for the wider world. 

For this month’s blog, I wanted to share the concept of “The IKEA Effect”.  Put simply, we assign greater value to things that we have had a hand in creating.  As the image below succinctly puts it: “we love it more if we made it.” 

Image: Sketchplanations

I was reminded of this phenomenon, which I think we probably all can relate to even if we don’t necessarily understand the psychological reasons behind it, when my Facebook account shared with me a memory from ten years ago of a Tudor townhouse that my youngest son (with some help from Dad!) made for a school project. 

As parents and as teachers and leaders in school, we can see this every time we see children produce a cake, a painting, a model or any host of other items, but also in their written work.  I remember as a young teacher, working in a very socially and economically disadvantaged community, being upset upon witnessing a particularly vulnerable child regularly destroy their own work.  It was symptomatic of some very deep-rooted issues the child was experiencing, and was a very clear manifestation of their own lack of self-worth. 

As professionals in schools, we also see value in our own work (the lesson plans and resources, the schemes of work, the assemblies we create etc. etc.) beyond what others may see in it.  We have an emotional connection with it.  It is an expression of our expertise and experience.

As a Trust, we recognise this.  Whilst seeing the inherent efficiencies of collaboration and standardisation, we also understand the necessity for personal contribution.  Our subject leaders, subject experts and secondees are leading colleagues across schools and subjects in genuine processes of co-construction of programmes of study.  We agree the “what”, and the “when”, but only some of the “how”.  This gives scope for teachers to consider their classes, and their communities, and their own teaching skillsets.  Without such considerations, lessons are all, in effect, “cover lessons”.  Likewise, we support our school leaders with a policy suite, robust systems and structures for finance, HR, governance and safeguarding, whilst allowing them the same considerations of context as the teachers they work alongside.  We aim to “support, not stifle”.  That way, all can genuinely feel the IKEA Effect in school.

Finally, in the same way as the child who brings home their cupcakes takes great pleasure in seeing them eaten by others, and the child who painted the picture beams when it is displayed on the fridge door, so we should derive pleasure from sharing our work.  Next month, I’ll be blogging about The Vault, our revamped online space for colleagues across the Trust to share their work with their colleagues.  It relies on the generosity we have in abundance across our schools.

As always, thanks for reading my blog.  This blog is part of my own IKEA Effect!