In his book ‘Wholesome Leadership: the head, hands and health of school leaders’, Tom Rees asked Sir David Carter, ‘If you had to give three pieces of advice to school leaders on thinking about school improvement strategy, what would they be?’
Sir David’s response was:
1. Build the strategy around the future you want to create, not the past you’re trying to change
2. Recognise the strengths of the school as well as the weaknesses, so that you bolt improvement on top of secure practice
3. Not much changes unless teaching improves! Make sure that the strategy does not become disconnected from classroom practice, so that the daily experience of children become the test of whether the plan is working.
Schools use a variety of terminology for school improvement, including ‘school improvement plan’, ‘school development plan’ and ‘strategic plan’. There is no one singular way to present your improvement plan; you are free to decide the format which best suits your school.
Many schools base their plan on the Ofsted framework however, some schools choose to make it objective based. Whichever template you use it is important to set aside time to complete the plan and build in time throughout the year to monitor, evaluate and adapt it.
School improvement planning should be cyclical and a continuous process.
Writing an effective plan:
- Ensure you take input from the whole school team; this ensures they are invested
- The process should be cyclical and continuous; monitor and evaluate regularly and adapt the plan accordingly
- Limit the number of objectives to ensure you are focusing on the key priorities of the school; too many objectives provide overload for staff and may mean the improvements do not become embedded
- Ensure there is a strong emphasis on pupil outcomes and standards
- Use a number of resources and evidence to form the objectives when developing your plan; it should link to the school self-evaluation and performance data
- Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities, including governors, so the team are clear on their expectations and who is leading the initiatives
- Relate it to the strategic plan of the governing board and relevant subject actions plans to ensure a joined-up process of improvement.
‘The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.’ Stephen Covey
Schoolaspect is a centralised online resource, enabling you to keep all your school improvement plans up to date and available for all staff. It ensures staff can take ownership of and understand the school’s improvement progress. Plans no longer get pigeon-holed or filed away with limited reference or visibility. Email based reminders ensure monitoring tasks are never missed or overlooked.
This blog was written by Bretta Townend-Jowitt, Education Consultant and Trainer.
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