Supporting you with your situational analysis

New functionality has been built into Scout and SPaRO to support and streamline the process of developing a situational analysis.

Schools assess their data in Scout and use the SPaRO platform to develop their situational analysis:

  • Scout is the department's data and analysis platform. It provides information about our schools in one central place. Data sets for a situational analysis are generated through one easily accessed dashboard.
  • The SPaRO (School Planning and Reporting Online) platform is an integrated online process that supports our schools to efficiently plan, self-assess and report. Schools use SPaRO's intuitive interface to record their situational analysis.

Schools enter the situational analysis in the self-assessment section of the SPaRO platform under the relevant headings. The suggested length is 2-3 pages, but this is a school-based decision as the situational analysis should include as much information as required to inform your future directions.

Situational analysis tool

Principals and Director, Educational Leadership use the situational analysis support tool (staff only) to guide and discuss each component of the situational analysis to ensure authentic and accurate self-assessment. After ongoing conversations:

  • all aspects are endorsed by the principal and DEL
  • consideration of all the evidence leads the development of the Strategic Improvement Plan.

Developing your situational analysis

The following 5 steps outline the process to develop your situational analysis. You can see examples of each of these steps, for 8 school types, in the comprehensive samples for situational analysis provided.

1. Review and analyse School dashboard and financial data

  • Access School dashboard within Scout:
    • When reviewing finances, also consider eFPT and School overview report.

2. Reflect on SEF S-aS and EV

  • Review annual SEF S-aS (School Excellence Framework Self-assessment Survey):
    • previous results within the current cycle
    • elements and themes.
  • Review EV (external validation) findings:
    • executive summary
    • future directions
    • next steps
    • panel report.
  • Identify focus areas within the SEF that will need to be considered within the Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP).

3. Review and analyse internal school data, research and literature

  • Analyse internal student learning and wellbeing measures.
  • Consider the current school plan and annual report, including the school’s reflections about ‘future directions’.
  • Review relevant educational priorities, research sources and professional literature.
  • Consider views and feedback from the whole school community.
  • Gather suggestions for action from stakeholders as they emerge.

4. Consider all the evidence

  • Determine the implications for future directions and planning.
  • Determine potential future directions.

Step 5 - Prepare for community consultation

  • Summarise relevant data that will inform the development of the vision statement, school context and strategic directions.

Unpacking each stage of the process

1. Review and analyse School dashboard and financial data

The School dashboard data in Scout is used as the starting point for your school's situational analysis. It provides you with a snapshot of your school with links to the relevant applications in Scout.

System-negotiated targets are accessible through the School dashboard, and a critical component of the situational analysis is considering the baseline, current progress and range for each of your system-negotiated targets.

The School dashboard is separated into 5 sections. You can reflect on each of these sections as part of your situational analysis in SPaRO:

  • Wellbeing
  • Student performance - contains agreed system-negotiated targets
  • Human resources
  • Enrolment
  • Finance - note: you can also review your use of consolidated (6100) and school and community (6300) funds through the analysis of the SBAR, eFPT and School overview report.
Image: The School dashboard in Scout

See Stage 1 of all Samples A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H.

2. Reflect on School Excellence Framework Self-assessment Survey and external validation

a) The School Excellence Framework

The School Excellence Framework (SEF) is a statement of what is valued as excellence for NSW public schools, both now and into the future. It identifies quality practice across the 3 domains of education – learning, teaching and leading – to help schools plan and monitor strategies for ongoing improvement.

The framework is evidence-based and identifies explicit school practices that are directly related to continuous, school-wide improvement and enhanced student outcomes.

As part of the ongoing School Excellence cycle, your school annually self-assesses its practices using the elements of the SEF across each of the 3 domains - as shown in the following example.

b) School Excellence Framework Self-assessment Survey

The School Excellence Framework Self-assessment Survey (SEF S-aS) captures your ‘point-in-time’ judgement using the SEF. You will be completing the SEF S-aS annually in SPaRO. The statements of excellence in the SEF are central to guiding your school’s reflection on each element.

Where your school’s practices are not described by ‘Delivering', 'Sustaining and Growing' or 'Excelling’ statements, you should select ‘Working Towards Delivering’.

c) External validation process

Once during the School Excellence cycle, your school undertakes an external validation (EV) of the evidence of your school’s self-assessment.

As part of this process, your school engages in discussions with an external panel and your self-assessments are validated using the SEF.

The executive summary, next steps and future directions of your school’s external validation are available in SPaRO to reflect upon when developing your situational analysis. See further information on the external validation process.

Your school will be able to access the last 2 years' SEF S-aS results and the EV panel report findings in SPaRO. As part of your analysis of these results, you will be able to identify focus themes relevant to your planning for the new Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP). This can be seen in the following example outlining the SEF domains and elements.

Legend: WTD = working towards delivering, D = delivering, S&G = sustaining and growing and E = excelling.

Element 2018 2019 EV panel report Focus themes
Learning culture S&G E E High expectations
Wellbeing S&G S&G S&G Planned approach to wellbeing
Curriculum S&G S&G S&G Teaching and learning programs, differentiation
Assessment D D D Formative assessment, whole school monitoring of student learning
Reporting S&G S&G S&G
Student performance measures D S&G D Student growth, internal and external measures against syllabus standards

Legend: WTD = working towards delivering, D = delivering, S&G = sustaining and growing and E = excelling.

Element 2018 2019 EV panel report Focus themes
Effective classroom practice S&G S&G S&G Feedback
Data skills and use D D D Data use in teaching, data use in planning
Professional standards S&G S&G S&G Literacy and numeracy focus
Learning and development D S&G S&G Collaborative practice and feedback

Legend: WTD = working towards delivering, D = delivering, S&G = sustaining and growing and E = excelling.

Element 2018 2019 EV panel report Focus themes
Educational leadership S&G S&G S&G Instructional leadership, high expectations culture
School planning, implementation and monitoring D S&G E Continuous improvement
School resources S&G S&G S&G Staff deployment
Management practices D S&G S&G

See Stage 2 of all Samples A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H.

3. Review and analyse school data, research and literature

This section provides an opportunity to add any other analysis of data that could inform your Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP).

It is important to consider the quality, reliability and relevance of your evidence. Opinions hold more weight if they are supported by evidence, particularly when triangulated with evidence from complementary data sources, such as qualitative and quantitative sources.

Evaluation in the school improvement cycle should be focused on continuous improvement, learning from experience and determining the best possible next step(s). Only include information that helps inform future planning.

Considering student learning and wellbeing data provides an opportunity to add any other evidence that could inform your Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP).

This section will depend on your school’s context, including schools for specific purposes and those in unique settings. You are likely to consider some of the following:

  • internal assessment data, for example SWANS, GAS, ACER PAT, PM, ASDAN and progressions, focus groups and stakeholder surveys and more
  • formative and summative assessments
  • learning progressions and PLAN 2
  • positive behaviour for learning (PBL) data
  • personalised learning plans (PLPs)
  • data walls
  • consistent teacher judgements
  • school-developed assessment tools
  • work samples, analysis of student portfolios or observations
  • internal wellbeing data, for example, suspensions, PBL, support referrals
  • surveys and focus group feedback
  • school complexity factors dashboard in Scout
  • NCCD data on adjustments.

Note: Only include information that helps you inform future planning, since the primary purpose of the situational analysis is to gather school information relevant to determining future directions.

Consider these in order to:

  • build on knowledge of progress towards achieving improvement measures
  • develop insights into why improvement measures have or have not been achieved
  • consider evidence of impact on student learning and the quality of the processes
  • enable understanding of school priorities within the current school context
  • reflect on those successful, high impact initiatives that can be consolidated and further developed
  • identify those initiatives and associated activities perceived as unnecessary burdens that need to be decommissioned
  • inform next steps and future directions
  • include any additional relevant data and analysis not already considered.

Your situational analysis is likely to consider both the needs of your school and the most effective or appropriate initiatives for addressing these needs. Drawing on the evidence is critical when considering the future directions of your school.

When considering your evidence and research base, quality and reliability are key. The Centre for Educational Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) provides useful support for schools when engaging with research, literature and evidence.

Reflecting on your community engagement practices enables you to consider the range of community feedback that you have collected and its effectiveness. This may include feedback from:

  • focus groups
  • community events
  • volunteer programs
  • the sharing of expertise
  • use of facilities
  • quick polls
  • other opportunities for open communication.

During the situational analysis, your school is engaged in a process of considering what has worked well, how it could be better and what works less well.

Ideas for improvement will naturally emerge. As they do, implementing processes that enable the contribution of ideas for future action and collecting these ideas without judgement is important.

This can be a positive step towards developing effective initiatives in your SIP and building whole school engagement.

See Stage 3 of Samples A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H.

4. Consideration of all the evidence

In considering all evidence collected in the situational analysis, your school will make judgements as to which areas need improvement. These considerations should be used to determine your school’s strategic directions.

Note: This is not a place to prove the worth of what your school has achieved. It is an opportunity to focus on determining the best next steps to maximise effective classroom practice and student performance and wellbeing.

See Stage 4 of Samples A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H.

5. Prepare for community consultation

Schools develop planning processes that facilitate authentic, inclusive, whole school community consultation by looking inward, looking outward and looking forward.

This analysis can reveal further opportunities for improving student learning and wellbeing outcomes through community engagement initiatives, as well as providing insights into current and emerging community issues.

Although the situational analysis does not result in a public document for review by your school community, the information gathered and the conclusions reached are critical to informing consultation with the school community and the development of your school’s Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP), which is a publicly available document.

Your school can prepare for community consultation by summarising the relevant data from the situational analysis that will inform the development of both your vision and context statements. Similarly, evidence and suggestions gathered during the situational analysis can be summarised to support the process of formulating strategic directions in consultation with the community.

See Stage 5 of Samples A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H.

For more detail and information about reviewing and amending your school’s shared vision and context statements, and determining the school’s strategic directions in collaboration with your community, refer to The Strategic Improvement Plan.

Reflective questions

  • Have we considered Family Occupation and Education Index, and Index of Community Socio Educational Advantage (ICSEA) along with significant trends?
  • Have we analysed the current enrolment profile?
  • Have we considered our staffing profile?
  • Have we considered a wide range of internal and external student performance data?
  • Have we reflected on our wellbeing, equity and attendance targets?
  • Have we considered the views of our staff, our students and our community in the analysis?
  • Have we considered the elements and themes from the SEF S-aS?
  • Are facility upgrades required to support curriculum delivery and programs?
  • Have we considered the current strategic improvement plan and annual report evaluations?
  • To what extent did we achieve our improvement measures outlined in the previous school plan? How do we know? What barriers existed and how did we overcome them?
  • Did we collect, analyse and extensively evaluate a range of qualitative and quantitative data?

  • Have we considered the views of our wider community in the analysis?
  • Have we considered like school and state comparisons of student performance data?
  • Have we reviewed current research and literature into best practice?

  • Has this analysis identified our next steps and future directions?
  • Are we ready to develop our vision and context statements in collaboration with community?
  • Do we need to continue on the improvement journey with our current - strategic directions? (What initiatives can we further develop, refine or scale up?)
  • What do we need to stop doing (decommissioning initiatives)?
  • Has our data analysis posed questions and generated ideas for future directions?
  • Are we ready to consult with our community regarding these findings and the prepared situational analysis?

Contact and support

  • Email with a SPaRO question.
  • See Samples for situational analysis.
  • Find support and information about Scout.
  • Contact Strategic School Improvement on 02 7814 3853.

Learn more

Find out more about School Excellence in Action.


  • Teaching and learning


  • High performance
  • Leadership and management
  • Reporting and performance
  • School Excellence Framework

Business Unit:

  • School Performance – South
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