School Excellence in Action

Activity description

School Excellence encompasses all areas of school planning, ongoing self-assessment, reporting and external validation. The School Excellence in Action professional learning sessions have been designed to engage participants in reflective questions regarding their school's current practices and next steps in implementing all aspects of School Excellence.

Session 1: School Excellence in Action overview

Audience – All school staff

Purpose – Build strong school wide knowledge of School Excellence in Action.

Instructions watch the multimedia presentation below which​ combines animations explaining the School Excellence cycle, available on the School Excellence in Action website. It delivers a summary of the School Excellence components and highlights the relevance for all schools to drive continuous school improvement.

School Excellence in Action animated overview


This is a great opportunity to talk about the work that's been taking place. To think through how we can create an environment where our schools can flourish and where our students can learn and where we're all committed to a process of school improvement. So that's what we're talking about today.

I want to thank you for being involved in this school excellence approach, this commitment to improvement, this commitment to teaching of the highest quality in every classroom, this commitment to great school leadership and to engaging the school community, so we have excellence for our children to ensure they are in the best possible position to flourish, given the uncertainty of the world ahead.


Schools are dynamic communities and everyone working in them is best placed to determine how to meet the needs of their students.

School improvement is at the heart of what we do. It's a continuous process centred on supporting the growth and achievement of every student in every classroom.

With the current school planning and external validation cycle concluding in 2020, we have a great opportunity to align the components of the School Excellent cycle to better support all New South Wales public schools on their improvement journey.

That's why we've been working with schools to develop the strategic improvement planning process, ensuring all schools have the right tools and support to build a brighter future for all students.

The strategic improvement planning process helps schools identify and talk about what's going well and what they can do even better.

The process also helps our schools work closely with their communities to set and prioritise goals aimed at improving their students learning, growth and well-being.

Schools then develop a plan for what their teachers and leaders will do, then they implement and monitor their progress towards achieving their goals.

And every year schools have a chance to reflect on their plan and celebrate progress.

Each school's strategic improvement plan is a great way for leaders, teachers and support staff to come together with the entire school community and develop a coherent and reflective school plan. With this plan we can ensure that every student, every teacher, every leader and every school improves every year.


Let's unpack the situational analysis a little bit. Our teachers, 65,000 across the state, are experts on a daily basis at taking stock of what has worked in a lesson, what has worked across lessons in a day, in a week, in a term. We need to galvanise that expertise and utilise that expertise; the teacher voice, leadership voice, in taking stock of where our entire school is at, in having a discernible difference to the entire student body by way of outcomes.


A situational analysis is an authentic and rigorous assessment of a school’s current state. The analysis is a key component of the school excellence cycle and it is an essential step in the development of the plan.

A school conducting a situational analysis looks inward, outward and forward.

Schools look inwards to analyse school data, and consider the views of staff, students, parents and carers. It includes using professional judgement to review what, why and how a practice was done – and the end result.

A school should look outwards to review their baselines and targets, consider research on effective school improvement strategies - and consult with the community about its current and future state.

Lastly, it involves looking forward to consider the future directions a school will take as it focuses on improvement and excellence.

Schools can follow five steps to complete their situational analysis in SPaRO.

The first step involves analysing the data contained within the Scout dashboard to enter into SPaRO. This inward reflection provides a snapshot of the school within the following areas: Enrolment, Wellbeing, Student Performance, Human Resources and Finance. Schools should also consider their system-negotiated targets in this section.

Next, schools review the School Excellence Framework-Self assessment Survey (SEF-SaS) for the past two years, and the latest External Validation panel report. The External Validation analysis includes an in-depth review of the executive summary and future directions.

Step three involves reviewing and analysing other valid data sources to inform future planning. This includes internal performance and wellbeing data that cannot be accessed through Scout, along with the evaluation of the existing school plan. This is an important step for each and every school. Schools should also consider reliable and relevant research and literature around high impact strategies that work.

In considering all of the evidence, schools can make judgements as to their areas for improvement. These considerations will be used to determine the school’s strategic directions.

Using all you have learned through your situational analysis, you are now ready to consult with your broader community and collaboratively determine your vision statement, school context and the development of your Strategic Improvement Plan for the next four years.

This thorough investigation ensures a school’s decision making maximises the learning outcomes and opportunities for everyone – supporting excellence in learning, teaching and leading.


Following the development of the situational analysis, each school will work with their community to develop their Strategic Improvement Plan.

The new Strategic Improvement Plan is uploaded into a simplified template using the SPaRO software. The Strategic Improvement Plan is published on each school's website.

The Strategic Improvement Plan starts with the school vision statement and school context. These two statements provide an orientation to the school for those reading the plan.

The school’s vision statement describes the school’s shared aspirations for all students, and can include aspirations for teachers and leaders.

The context statement describes the school’s unique features that reflect the educational, geographical, and social characteristics of the school. It also clearly states the school’s identified areas for improvement as determined by the findings of the situational analysis.

In developing the plan, schools identify up to three strategic directions that reflect high level areas for improvement. These are based on the school’s situational analysis and community consultation, and should clearly articulate the focus of improvement.

The first strategic direction for all schools will focus on Student Growth and Attainment. The other two directions can be chosen by schools.

Each strategic direction is supported by a purpose statement. The purpose statement directly relates to the school’s vision and clearly explains why a strategic direction was chosen as a focus.

An improvement measure is a statement of the impact that will be achieved by the expected year of the School Excellence cycle. Each school will plan one or two high level initiatives to achieve the improvement measures and success criteria for each strategic direction.

Each initiative is planned, monitored and evaluated throughout the four-year planning cycle.

The success criteria defines the specific improvements in learning, behaviours, and practices that will be seen or observed by the end of the four-year cycle as a result of achieving the improvement measures.

Each school develops an evaluation plan by identifying the strategies, data and evidence that will be used to self-assess the progress towards, and the impact of, the strategic direction. This information will assist schools in future decision making. Schools monitor and track the implementation and progress of their plan on a regular basis in the SPaRO software.

Throughout this process, all aspects of the Strategic Improvement Plan are discussed and endorsed by both the principal and the DEL. The final Strategic Improvement Plan is approved by the DEL and published on the school’s website.


As you would know, Strategic Improvement Plan, budgeting and resourcing are all connected and your Strategic Improvement Plan will have two parts. It will have the Strategic Improvement Plan that is published, and then the internal working document, which is the implementation and monitoring component.


Schools implement and monitor the progress of their Strategic Improvement Plan using school-determined activities and annual progress measures. Annual progress measures and initiatives are aligned to the strategic directions, and they identify the improvement the school is aiming for in each year of the plan.

The year in which the improvement measure is expected to be achieved is auto-populated from the strategic direction. Backward and forward mapping from the improvement measures determines progression through each year of the plan.

Schools evaluate the annual progress measure each year and record the impact achieved in their annual report.

Schools monitor and track implementation and progress of their strategic improvement plan on a regular basis in the SPaRO software.

Initiatives are the high level projects or processes identified in each strategic direction. They describe how each strategic direction will be achieved.

Activities are the key steps developed to support the implementation of each initiative and are added to the implementation and progress monitoring table as required. Schools identify the term and week for the start of each activity. The current progress of the activity can be recorded using the traffic light system. The relevant School Excellence Framework elements can be tagged for each activity to align the strategic planning, self-assessment and external validation processes. Activities can be assigned to individual staff or teams which are saved as tags for future use.

Resources are allocated to support the delivery of each activity. It’s important that schools select the relevant funding source using the ‘Add funding source’ button as SPaRO can track the use of these funds. Details of the planned spending can be included in the text box.

Schools regularly evaluate the progress and impact of their planned activities by analysing and reflecting on a range of data sources. The evidence can be stored in SPaRO using the paperclip icon. Evidence can be tagged using key words to organise and strengthen self-assessment processes. The evaluation of evidence will inform the school’s next steps.

Each year, schools evaluate and reflect upon the impact of their initiatives using the annual progress measures. This helps to ensure that they are on track for achieving the improvement measures. The annual reflection table will be auto-populated into the annual report. Schools also complete their SEF S-aS as part of this annual reflection.


When we work towards being a great school that meets the needs of all of our students, we focus on creating the best conditions for student growth, attainment and wellbeing. In so doing, we consider the most effective use of needs-based funding and the strategic allocation of our resources.

Our resources need to be targeted to the school initiatives within the Strategic Improvement Plan, then monitored and evaluated regularly throughout the year.

New guides and online tools have been developed to support schools in using the available resources effectively, to best meet student needs. This creates strong links between the effective use of school resourcing, the school’s Strategic Improvement Plan and improved student outcomes.

Effective resourcing considers your school’s context and needs, and focuses on the impact funding has made on achieving your strategic directions and improvement measures.

Unpacking your School Budget Allocation Report will identify the human and financial resources available to support your school’s strategic directions and other priorities.

A funding source table has been built into the School Planning and Reporting Online tool to assist with planning and monitoring your SBAR allocations and to help evaluate and adjust resources throughout the year. It’s important that the funding is used for students in the year in which it is allocated.

When developing your four-year Strategic Improvement Plan, it’s essential to describe the measurable impacts you’re aiming to achieve, and to ensure that the needs of all your students, including equity groups, are considered.

Allocate the available human and financial resources to the planned activities within your evidence-based initiatives. If needed, you can reallocate resources to achieve your annual progress and improvement measures.

During your annual reflection, ensure that needs-based funding aligns with improved student learning and wellbeing outcomes.

Publish your annual report before the end of Term 1 each year.

It is essential that accountability for the effective use of needs-based funding extends well beyond financial expenditure to evaluating the impact of these funds on student learning and wellbeing.

In doing so, we can reduce the impact of disadvantage and support a brighter future for all of our students.

Visit the NSW Education website and search ‘School Excellence’ to find the 2021 School Excellence in Action website and refer to the guide for resourcing your Strategic Improvement plan.

Session 2: School Excellence in Action follow-up activities

Audience – School Teams

Purpose – Framing and supporting deeper discussions about School Excellence to follow on from the overview.

Instructions – Download and view this multimedia PowerPoint presentation. It has been designed with multiple entry and exit points. The notes section provides additional information, responses and references for discussion leaders.

PowerPoint presentation outline:

1. School Excellence – An overview (slides 2-5)

PowerPoint presentation – 0:00-2:24

2. Situational analysis (slides 6-7)

PowerPoint presentation 2:24-5:51

3. Strategic Improvement Plan (slides 8-9)

PowerPoint presentation 5:51-8:45

4. Implementation and progress monitoring, and annual reflection (slides 10-11)

PowerPoint presentation 8:45-11.48

5. Resourcing the SIP (slides 12-13)

PowerPoint presentation 11.48-14:36

After viewing the PowerPoint presentation, schools can flesh out as many individual topics from the overview as they wish. There are five separate topics with time references for the corresponding section of the multimedia presentation. Each topic is estimated to take around 20 minutes.

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