As another academic year draws to a close, it’s time for reflection as you begin the process of improvement planning for next year. In this blog, we look at key advice from leading organisations and what that can mean for your school.
Effective self-evaluation is a working document...is yours?
Ideally, this won’t be the first time you’ve reflected on the school improvement plan and self-evaluation is an ongoing process. Timetabling reviews into your improvement calendar, at least termly and for the different plans and evaluations you do,helps it to be an ongoing and live process.
Engaging different groups also keeps it a live activity and ASCL recommends a bottom-up process starting at practitioner level.Ways to do this is include connecting individual professional objectives with whole school priorities as well as the way you monitor staff performance. When staff see how their performance directly impacts on team and whole school priorities, they are more engaged. Tony Thornley recommends that monitoring and evaluation is part of the school’s culture at all levels, including, students. For this to happen, colleagues will need to be trained and moderated in quality assurance.
Effective self-evaluation is evidence based...how good is your evidence?
This year’s evidence not only informs your evaluation and next year’s improvement plan but also what evidence you need to gathering the future. Do you have the evidence you need, has it been collected in the right way, is it clear and consistent and easy to access? Remembering to use the evidence to inform your evaluation by summarising, referencing or linking to it, rather than including it.Planning evidence collection such as surveys into your improvement calendar ensures it is collected.
Effective self-evaluation is concise and succinct...is yours too descriptive?
It’s easy to go into too much detail when talking about something we are passionate about. Be evaluative, think about the purpose and the reader, what do they need from the document, are the key messages crystal clear and can they see the bigger picture?Avoid long descriptions of what the school has done or intends to do.
Further guidance from Tony Thornley
Look at it from the students' perspective - Evaluate students' typical experiences, not just showpiece lessons or marking and gather their views formally and informally.
Evaluate, don't describe, except to exemplify - What you write should evaluate or assess. If you can say: 'So what?' what you've written has little value. Avoid promises about what will (might?) happen as a result of what you are doing now.
Encourage hypotheses and 'even better ifs' - Promote discussion about why things are as they are before planning the next steps. Identify the two or three most important things to improve in each section.
Make judgements - Use inspection criteria, ensure colleagues understand them and use an experienced external partner to moderate your judgements.
Be honest and encourage - Lead by example in honestly evaluating things you are responsible for.
Take a long-term view - Don't come to instant conclusions following one bad result. The track over time is what matters.
Include all stakeholders in the process - Invite all involved to comment on relevant elements or summaries. Staff, students, governors and parents should feel that it presents a realistic picture of the school as they know it. It should answer: what's it like to be a pupil at this school; I would like to work here; and would I send my child here?
How SchooliP supports self-evaluation
Everything discussed here can be supported by SchooliP, such as:
- Gathering and storing evidence in one place and in pre-defined formats, either live at the time, such as lesson observations, or afterwards such as results.
- Analysing the evidence to draw conclusions using an advanced reporting engine.
- Ensuring consistency of quality assurance through easy monitoring of other people’s entries throughout the year.
- Setting dates to review progress and gather evidence through the shared calendar.
- Connecting whole school priorities with individual staff objectives.
- Engaging appropriate staff in the self-evaluation as it is online and always available.
From the self-evaluation, SchooliP then guides you through building your school improvement plan through ASCL’s recommended format and feeds relevant points through your lesson observation forms, professional development needs as well as staff objectives.
ASCL (2015) Leadership of Strategic Improvement Planning and Self-Evaluation. [online and via mobile app].http://innovation-search.co.uk/sites/default/files/guidance_paper_leadership_of_strategic_improvement_planning_and_self_evaluation_final%281%29.pdf
Estyn (2014) A self-evaluation manual for secondary schools [online]https://www.estyn.gov.wales/sites/default/files/documents/Secondary%20manual%20en.pdf
MacLeod and Clarke’ (2016) The Four Enablers. Engage for Success [online] http://engageforsuccess.org/the-four-enablers
Ofsted (2015) The Common Inspection Framework. [online] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/common-inspection-framework-education-skills-and-early-years-from-september-2015
NGA and The Wellcome Trust (2015) A Framework for Governance: A flexible guide to strategic planning. [online]http://www.nga.org.uk/News/NGA-News/Pre-2016/NGA-and-Wellcome-Trust-launch-Framework-for-Govern.aspx
Tony Thornley (2012) Purpose, principles and focus of school self-evaluation. National College of School Leadership [online] https://www.nationalcollege.org.uk/cm-mc-sse-op-thornley.pdf
Tony Thornley (2014) Be True to Your SEF. ASCL, Leader Magazine. [online]http://www.leadermagazine.co.uk/articles/be_true_to_your_sef/
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