Taking the Opportunity
It is easy to remain on a well-trodden path and do things the way we do them because that’s the way we do them. But there are moments or epiphanies that cause us to stop and allow us the opportunity to relook with fresh eyes.
Sometimes these opportunities come in the form of new colleagues who question and probe, sometimes it’s a change of work environment or context, sometimes it’s as the result of talking to colleagues or CPD and sometimes it’s because you’ve afforded yourself the opportunity to reflect.
None of this will have any impact though unless we are able to listen, allow ourselves to be challenged or challenge ourselves.
A moment arose at the beginning of this term when, as per previous years, I came to articulate our school priorities on for the School Improvement Plan. The SLT had met to discuss our initial feelings based on our knowledge of the school, the outcomes of monitoring, evaluations of previous plans and analysis of whole school data. These tend to be lively and inspiring discussions focussed on why x, y or z should be a priority, about CPD opportunities, innovation, pedagogy and leadership – then potentially killed when committed to paper.
In a year where I have encouraged pupils and staff to ‘take the opportunity’ (in an earlier assembly each pupil and member of staff had literally taken the opportunity – a card which read ‘The Opportunity’ on which they wrote the opportunity they wanted to take this year.) I too saw this as a moment to seize. At the next SLT meeting we relooked at the initial thoughts, the existing SIP format and asked ourselves what did we want the SIP to achieve?
We wanted it to reflect our discussions – be to the point, clear, concise, meaningful and accessible. Not to be lost in words, long winded or appear to be something we had to do.
So, we broke down the initial discussion we had and thought about the elements of the meeting. They can be articulated as the ‘priority’ which was then tested to see if it was a priority ‘why?’. If it was a priority then ‘so what?’, followed by ‘key dates and people’ and finally ‘the result’.
It looked like this:
Whilst it may need some refining as we go further through the process, what I don’t want the model to lose is its dynamic existence. Displayed in the PPA room it allows teachers to contribute, add to and comment on – I envisage that it will be much more successful in allowing accessibility for all and drive through improvement under the priorities.
Our existing format for improvement planning feels more restrictive and less dynamic than this model. Therefore has the tendency to be an imposed task, brought out to refer and respond to periodically, when in fact the improvement cycle within the school is ongoing. I believe this model will better reflect and allow more precise challenge and support to be implemented – which will have a more immediate impact on pupil learning. I look ahead confidently at reporting back on how the strategy has worked.
Do you have any school improvement top tips?