At TMS school development planning efforts are focused on action. The school development plan (SDP) ensures that there is cohesion and guidance for the actions that are to be taken. Every school Head is required to seek continuous improvement in the school and account for the school’s performance by undertaking self-assessment followed by planning for improvement, and then reporting on performance and progress.
School self-assessment is vital for the TMS school development plan. The self-assessment enables schools:
- To direct improvements in the quality of provision within the specific context of the school
- To recognise and value, and also build on what is working well in the school
- To identify areas for development in the school and to strategise actions to bring about improvements in those areas
- To report to the executive leadership and also the school community about the strengths in the work of the school and its priorities for improvement and development
Aims of this Policy
This policy provides a framework for planning continuous school improvement that is focused on:
- Developing teaching and learning which cultivates a high level of student responsibility for their own learning, so that students are motivated, confident and achieving in their studies
- Providing a school culture where opportunities for deepening students’ learning and supporting students’ all-round development are embedded in school operations
- Providing effective support for students’ skill development that impact upon their progression and attainment
- Ensuring that all staff liaise and interact effectively with stakeholders and communities to:
- develop an effective understanding of the quality of learning throughout the school
- raise the profile of TMS within the communities that the schools serve
- Supporting school leadership to set high expectations and standards within the school
We use the following guiding principles to provide a framework for school development planning:
The five guiding principles provide the focus for self-assessment and action-planning.
- Teaching and Learning
School development planning needs, first and foremost, to be reflective of the desire and intention to set for ourselves the highest standards of teaching in order to realise our expectation for exceptional levels of student learning. Using these principles, school Heads should focus evaluation and reflection on:
- The achievement of learner outcomes (attainment of subject and curriculum objectives)
- The students’ experiences of learning in the school which includes reflecting on aspects of the learning environment, students engagement in learning and the extent to which TMS students have ‘learned to learn’
- Teachers’ practices (preparation for teaching, teaching approaches, management of students and assessment)
We expect our schools to be places where young people are nurtured and challenged, so a self-assessment of a school should include a reflection on the extent to which:
- The school is open, honest and a place where active communication occurs (teachers and students, teachers and parents, school and community, etc.) Interactions between teachers/staff and students are caring, responsive, supportive, and respectful
- Teachers and staff are collegial. They support and work collaboratively around the achievement and success of the students
- Parents and teachers are partners in the life and work of the school. Teachers/ staff, students and families feel that they are contributing to the success of the school
- Decisions are made with the participation of teachers and school staff
- Teachers and staff are open to suggestions (from students, families, community)
- Students trust teachers and staff
- Morale is high among teachers and staff
- Teachers, students and families demonstrate school pride and the school is respected and valued by teachers, staff, students, families and the community
- Families and community members perceive the school as warm, inviting and helpful
Reflecting on students’ behaviours are seen as measurements of skills attained by students. To do this, the Head teacher needs to identify what student behaviours in their school will indicate what skills have been developed and which still need to be addressed. Furthermore, skills, for TMS, are hard to measure and complex. The following are key points in the self-assessment of skills progression within a school:
- Students’ ways of thinking
- Creativity and innovation
- Critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making
- Learning to learn (metacognition)
- Students’ ways of working
- How students use the tools of learning and working
- Information literacy
- ICT proficiency
- Ways of living in the world of the 21st Century
- Life and living
- Personal and social responsibility
- Cultural awareness and competence
The guiding principle of ‘community’ requires schools to focus on the extent to which different groups associated with the school see themselves as partners with the school.
- Awareness of community
- Commitment to community service
- Understanding of course content
- Involvement with community
- Motivation and attraction to community work
- Professional development
- Impact/influence on teaching
- Awareness of community
- Barriers and facilitators to working with school communities
- Satisfaction with experience
- Satisfaction of partners
- Sustainability of partnerships
- Impacts on resources
- Utilisation and development of funding and income
The guiding principle of school leadership is founded on what is required of school leaders to ensure effective teaching and learning in schools. These requirements that need to be self-assessed are:
- School Heads having a set of core professional values including commitment (to excellence), care (for others), (professional) integrity and respect for all
- The extent to which a successful teaching and learning culture in school is developed
- The effectiveness of the management of the school environment and resources to support teaching and learning
- The extent to which leadership in the school is distributed as part of a long-term strategy to build leadership capacity for sustainability and succession planning
- Recognition of the school Head as lead learner who manages the creation, sharing and review of the strategic vision, ethos and aims of TMS
- The extent to which a commitment to constant improvement is created
- The extent and effectiveness of self-evaluation and reflection by the school Head
The school uses policy documents to drive continuous improvement within school. These documents drive implementation and revisions in our procedures and practices.
Head teachers MUST be fully aware of each policy document and the content and intent of each policy, in order to successfully complete their annual SDP.
The Role of the School Head
Effective school leadership enables continuously high standards of teaching and high attainments in student achievement. Consequently, school Heads who focus on teachers’ practice can expect the greatest impact on student achievements. By encouraging teachers to operate collaboratively and share their skills and understandings, good school Heads develop and expand quality teaching in the school.
How school Heads allocate school resources also enables student achievement.
As part of the self-assessment process, these aspects of leadership should be measured by the extent to which actions and resources are targeted to maximise student achievement.
- Head teachers are accountable to the Director (Academics), Director (Community and Outreach), and the Chief Teaching and Learning Officer for the performance of their school and teachers are accountable to the school Head for the progress of their students.
- School Heads, in collaboration with teachers, are required to undertake self-assessment of the school that results in judgements about the standards of student achievement and the effectiveness of school processes in maximising student achievement.
- School Heads, in collaboration with teachers, are required to undertake school planning processes that include the development of an annual School Plan, which informs operational planning and classroom planning.
- School Heads, in collaboration with teachers, are required to write annually a School Report that describes the school’s performance.
The school development cycle should mirror the following structure:
- School Heads should reflect on their performance each year, and evaluate the quality of their provision of teaching. From this, they should plan for improvement and strategise actions to realise those improvements. This means that school Heads must self-assess in ways that are based in evidential judgements about student achievement. School Heads should also expect to make such assessments continuously through an academic year, making it a comprehensive process for the school.
- School Heads, in collaboration with teachers, are required to undertake self-assessment that results in judgements about the standards of student achievement and the effectiveness of school processes in maximising student achievement. For this purpose, school Heads, in collaboration with teachers:
- Should critically assess data (e.g. report cards) and other evidence related to student achievement and school operations, as a basis for decisions about the actions required to maximise student achievement in the future
- Should establish a regular and ongoing self-assessment process that provides verifiable judgments about student achievement and school operations
- Should make student achievement, both academic and non-academic, the central focus of school self-assessment
- Asking the Following Key Questions
School Heads should start the self-assessment process by asking key questions about teaching and learning. These might include the following:
- How well are we doing?
- How do we know? What evidence do we have?
- What are our students achieving (both academic and non-academic)?
- Are these achievements good enough (given the context)?
- How can we find out more?
- What are our strengths?
- What are our areas for improvement?
- How can we improve?
- How will we know if we have been effective in improving student achievement?
To ensure high standards of student achievement, the school Head must ensure that the learning environment is safe and nurturing. Therefore, it is the responsibility not only of school Heads, but also coordinators and teachers, to ensure that thee learning environment in the school is perceived to be safe; this requires good management of student behaviour, and a focus of teacher on actions which support student well-being. Furthermore, attendance, retention and student engagement must be a priority focus for school Heads. This means that student and staff attendance and behaviour statistics are important indicators of the ‘health’ of the school.
- PlanningSchool Heads plan by making decisions about the actions required to maximise student achievement. School Heads should consider:
- What could be done to address the identified need?
- What does education research and good practice tell us about effective ways of addressing the identified need?
- Which strategies can be realistically implemented in our school context?
- How are we responding to student and community needs and addressing policy requirements?
School Heads, in collaboration with teachers, should:
- Develop and make available before the beginning of a new academic year, a School Development Plan for the academic year in question, that provides a succinct, strategic direction for the operation of the school
- Include whole school objectives, priorities for teaching and resource acquisition, improvement targets regarding student performance and resources needed in the SDP
- Make clear reference to, and take account of, TME policies and directions in the development of their SDP
- Be consistent and realistic in the application of evaluation measures and suitable timeframes
- Take time to conduct an annual review to inform the SDP
- Ensure that the SDP details how the School Development Plan will be implemented in each school year
School Heads are expected to operationalise their School Development Plan in ways that best suit the school’s context.
School Heads, in collaboration with teachers, should:
- Publish an annual school report in a form best suited to parents and the local community and submit the document for electronic publication on the TMS website
- Reporting Format:
- Operational information (e.g. school name, reporting year, student numbers etc.)
- Teaching and Learning structured around areas of learning (subject strengths and areas for improvement)
- Cross-curricular skills (see above)
- The learning environment (physical environment, implementation of school values etc.)
- The role of school leadership in leading development
- Annual Review
School Heads should:
- Present to the TMS Directors and Chief Teaching and Learning Officer evidence, analysis and judgements about the standards of student achievement and school operations
- Respond constructively to feedback resulting from the review
- Enact any recommendations arising from the review of the annual report
Raising student achievement and setting high expectations of education provision are the focus for school improvement plans and identifying how to measure success. For the school Head this means that the school development cycle is based on assessing the performance of the school in an academic year, planning for improvements and acting on the plans. This must be seen as a continuous process that is central to effective school improvement at TMS.
Therefore, the school development cycle should be seen as an ongoing process by school Heads which needs constant attention. Also, the three components identified in this document should be seen as dynamic and interactive rather than isolated elements in managing school standards. While a process of self-assessment in school, undertaken by the school Head, will lead to planning and implementation, by engaging in a process of continuous self-assessment will support the school Head in recognising and managing changes that naturally occur in plans as a result of strategies being implemented. School Heads should expect their planning decisions to be regularly modified and re-focused.
Schools act by executing their SDP. School Heads are accountable for ensuring that plans are implemented and then evaluated for their effectiveness in terms of student achievement. It is not sufficient for school Heads to report that a planned strategy was implemented. A process of reflection, review and evaluation is expected so that the schools administration can judge the effectiveness of the implementation strategies.
At TMS, we recognise that some strategies for improvement may take longer to show improved student achievement than the typical school planning cycle. In such cases, the strategy should continue to be monitored for its effect on student achievement. To do this, school Heads should develop specific milestones that provide interim evidence that the strategy is on course and should be continued.
The standards of student achievement, both academic and non-academic, are the central focus of school development planning. School Heads are expected to seek continuous improvement of student achievement and are accountable for their effectiveness in doing so.
While school Heads cannot be held accountable for contextual factors that are outside their control, they are expected to demonstrate that every effort has been made to overcome contextual factors so that students receive the highest quality educational experience.
In reviewing school performance, school Heads must review school operations and practices in relation to their positive or negative effect on student achievement. Data on students’ academic achievement comes from two sources – teacher judgements (evaluations) and systemic testing. It is expected that schools will use both. For teacher judgements to be used with confidence, it is important that school Heads check that these judgements are consistent with test grades.