Evaluative thinking in the school planning process transcript

[The speaker is Duncan Rintoul, Manager, Evaluation Capacity Building at the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation.]

[The clip is entirely animated with various graphics to support the themes being discussed.]

The disciplines of evaluative thinking are rocket fuel for educational leadership and they’ve been carefully stitched into the New South Wales school planning process. This video highlights a few of the key connection points.

The early steps of the planning process are all about reflection and prioritisation through self-assessment and consultation. This initial phase gives you a strong foundation for targeted improvement planning. It also gives you great base-line data. If you can use that self-assessment as a line in the sand, then assessing the impact of your plan is about distance travelled from that point, over time. The planning process also has an explicit focus on outcomes – fixing your eyes on the prize and then developing sound strategies to help you get there.

Within each strategic direction, the guidelines encourage you to start with your statement of purpose and then map backwards through to your processes. You also see backwards mapping encouraged within each process each year. Approaching your plan like this helps make sure that the projects you initiate really are a means to an end and that you’re starting with that end in mind. Of course, to see meaningful change over a three-year period, you’ve got to be strategic about where you direct your effort and what strategies you invest in. This means relying on good educational research and pursuing strategies that have a solid evidentiary basis for your school context. That’s what’s going on when you’re setting and reviewing your processes and there are helpful resources for this on the CESE website.

There are also plenty of triggers for ongoing evaluation along the way. At a high level, your improvement measures are two or three key markers for each strategic direction that give you a dashboard for growth and help you navigate and communicate your course over that three year horizon.  There’s also evaluation at a more granular scale in the milestoning of each process. This is where, over the course of a school year, you can keep track of all the detail about what you did, how well you did it, what difference it made and importantly, what made the difference. And that’s where the real treasure lies – when you and your colleagues know your impact and you’re capturing the lessons learned, you can confidently adjust your plans as you go – using evidence to bring your community with you on your school excellence journey.

End of transcript.

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