Author: Bethany Spencer
Posted: 12 Nov 2018
Estimated time to read: 5 mins
Having a clear and well thought out improvement plan for your school is paramount to the success of your school, teachers and students. Outlining your goals and areas for improvement, this plan should guide all stakeholders on their improvement journey. This article explores in more depth what a school improvement plan is, and how you can write yours and make it as effective as possible.
What is a School Improvement Plan?
A school’s improvement plan is the roadmap they follow which sets out areas and initiatives the school will be working toward for the upcoming academic year to help accelerate positive change and improvement.
A school’s SIP will help them to determine strategic direction and prioritise areas for improvement. Usually decided by the school leadership team, SIPs are central to actions, initiatives and practices put in place throughout the school year. All staff should refer to the plan throughout the year to ensure they’re on track to meet their goals.
Writing an effective School Improvement Plan:
Your school’s SIP will be the reference point for all stakeholders in school as well as acting as evidence for external bodies, meaning it carries huge influence and is integral to the running of the school. We’ve outlined our top tips for developing a SIP that’s effective, gives thorough guidance, and helps you to achieve goals you and your team are passionate about:
Take input from all of your team
Before creating your plan you must first evaluate your school and identify areas for improvement, existing achievements and new avenues you want to explore - this information will give you the foundation of your future SIP.
However, at this stage and when conducting this investigation - be sure to ask for input from your school’s entire staff body - from VP through to TA. The whole school will be focusing on this plan and therefore need to be invested in the initiatives you’re outlining.
Also, asking for staff input will give you invaluable insight into the running of your school and will allow for fresh ideas from those who will be impacted by the changes you’re suggesting. Opening the floor to ideas from all staff is also not only a great way to build culture, but also to recognise new skills in your staff and nurture them.
Read our blog on how you can encourage your staff to give open and honest ideas for you to act on here.
Have a cyclical approach
Simply implementing the changes laid out in your school’s SIP and then evaluating the success of these at the end of the year is not enough to see impactful change. In order for your SIP to truly be effective, your plan should be tracked and evaluated throughout the year.
By doing this you can see how your initiatives are progressing as they happen which gives you the ability to react accordingly. This means that you can tweak and alter your plan at the time it’s needed, before the end of the year when it may be too late and more work is needed to be applied to reverse or enhance efforts. Taking this approach means your SIP is constantly being worked on and your changes and improvements will be organic, allowing you to work more strategically.
Prioritise your initiatives
It’s not uncommon that when developing your SIP you find that there are multiple areas where you want to focus your attention and an abundance of new ideas and initiatives you want to implement, all of which will have an impact, yet you don’t have the time or capacity to fulfil every one of them.
In order to work effectively, initiatives need to be prioritised so that you’re focusing on the changes that are most important, will make the biggest impact and will ensure you don’t take on more than you can handle. Things to consider when prioritising areas of improvement include asking yourself which will have the biggest impact for students? What does your budget accommodate for? What’s going to make the biggest difference to work culture?
When deciding your areas for school improvement a key pillar to their success or failure is whether or not you have the capacity in your team for people to take ownership of these initiatives.
Also, a key criterion for your school improvement success is clearly communicating responsibilities and roles so your team are clear on what’s expected of them and have the knowledge and support on how to deliver. It’s for these reasons you need to make your staff fully aware of who is in charge of which area, so they can lead on initiatives successfully and your staff feel supported if they’re part of the initiatives you’re implementing.
Refer to the Ofsted Framework
During your SEF and SIP development, it’s important to refer to the Ofsted Framework to ensure your improvement plan is geared towards both your school’s needs and the wider education industry requirements. Schools are subject to inspection and bearing this in mind when creating your SIP will help you when it comes to inspection and shows you’re taking actions to work toward their standards for improvement.
Furthermore, at the start of SIP development make reference to your previous Ofsted report and use this as a guideline when deciding priorities and initiatives and this will provide a clear indication of where you should focus efforts.
Related reading: The Impact of Effective Classroom Management