Another Lean consultant not needed, Sask. NDP say

Saskatchewan's official opposition, the NDP, is criticizing a move by the Ministry of Education to hire a Lean consultant.

Lean consultant says method better serves students in the classroom

NDP education critic, Trent Wotherspoon, says money earmarked for another Lean contract would be better spent on educational assistants and resources schools really need. (Lauren Golosky/CBC)

Saskatchewan's official Opposition, the NDP, is criticizing a move by the province's Ministry of Education to hire a Lean consultant.

John Black was the province's last Lean consultant. The company was hired on a $35-million, three-year contract to implement Lean-style efficiencies and cut waste in the provincial health care system.

The Ministry of Education is accepting tenders for a consultant to do Lean training and run Lean events, a move which the NDP says it not a good idea.

"It makes no sense at all for government to dole out a big contract for a Lean consultant," Trent Wotherspoon, the NDP's education critic, said. "We don't need more Lean consultants; we need support on the front lines for education where it counts for students."

Lean would serve students, consultant claims

Shannon Flumerfelt, a Lean consultant and professor at Oakland University in Michigan, says Lean quashes the traditional ways people think about delivering education. The idea is to look at who the education system should work for, and how it can better help students.

Schools should also have the opportunity to benefit.- Shannon Flumerfelt, Lean consultant

"What Lean is, is certainly not a budget reduction. It's certainly not a workforce reduction," said Flumerfelt.

"At this point in history, Lean is the best improvement system that we have been able to identify and develop, and I believe that schools should also have the opportunity to benefit," said Flumerfelt.

She said one example of how Lean works in schools is through a method called 'flipped learning.'

A school in a blue-collar area of Michigan was struggling to get students to do their homework, and that resulted in poor grades.

Instead of creating programs focused on getting students to do their homework, the teachers provided a succinct lecture that students could access outside of the classroom using their smartphone or a computer. Students then did their school work connected to that lecture in the classroom, instead of doing it at home. 

Flumerfelt said they found student achievement increased, and behaviour problems dropped significantly.

No contracts signed yet

The government said officials are simply looking for a consultant and no contracts have been signed.

The minister responsible for Lean, Don McMorris, also notes that this contract will be different than the last one.

"It isn't necessarily a contract that says you're going to get $20 million in two years or five years or 10 years," McMorris said. "It is an as-needed basis, but we need to have [a consultant] named and that's what this RFP does."

McMorris noted the new contract will have a cap on how much money will be spent on Lean consultants, and the firm will only be paid when its services are requested.


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