Situational analysis

The situational analysis is a key component of the School Excellence cycle and is used to inform your school’s improvement journey in learning, teaching and leading.

High school student looking through telescope with other student watching
Image: Examining the current state of your school

What is a situational analysis?

A situational analysis is an authentic and rigorous assessment of your school’s current state and is used to inform your school’s improvement journey in learning, teaching and leading.

The situational analysis is a key component of the School Excellence cycle and is an essential step in the development of a Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) that will effectively prioritise your school's identified areas for growth.

Conducting a situational analysis allows your school to develop a rich and highly contextualised understanding of your school’s current situation.

As part of this situational analysis, every school collects qualitative and quantitative data, collates evidence, collaborates widely, and engages with research. The following process is the suggested option available to schools.

Through a process of ‘looking inward’, ‘looking outward’ and ‘looking forward’, a situational analysis answers the questions:

  • ‘Where are we now?’
  • ‘Where do we want to be?'
  • 'How good can we be?'

Situational analysis animation

Watch the animation for situational analysis. It outlines the approach and stages needed to create your situational analysis, a key component of your Strategic Improvement Plan.

Looking inward, looking outward and looking forward

Three steps to authentic self-assessment
Image: Looking inward, looking outward and looking forward

Looking inward

  1. Data: what data do we have and what does it tell us? How do we know and what evidence do we have?
  2. Views and feedback: have we considered the views and feedback of staff, students and parents/ carers about where the school is now and where it needs to be? How do we know and what evidence do we have?
  3. Professional judgement: using professional judgement, have we considered what has been done, how well has it been done, and what happened as a result? How do we know and what evidence do we have?

Looking outward

  1. Priorities: have we considered current educational priorities and our school's system-negotiated targets?
  2. Research: what does reliable and relevant research tell us about effective strategies for school improvement that are relevant to our current context?
  3. Opportunities: what are the opportunities within and beyond my professional learning network that are contextually relevant?

Looking forward

  1. Decommission: which current practices or initiatives will we decommission (stop doing)?
  2. Adapt and improve: how can we consolidate, adapt and improve on our current high impact practices and initiatives?
  3. Innovate: what new, innovative practices or initiatives should we adopt in our next Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP)?


Next steps

By 'looking inward', 'looking outward' and 'looking forward', your school gains the clarity to envision and map your future directions in the next phase of the School Excellence cycle. A situational analysis enables your school to develop a context-specific Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) that answers the questions:

  • Where do we need to go now?
  • How will we get there?


Features of a situational analysis process

Each and every school, including yours, is a complex, student-centred and diverse learning community.

While unique trends, features and future directions may be revealed about a learning community through a situational analysis, the process of conducting the analysis is likely to be similar in each school. See the following key features.

What it is and what it isn't

A situational analysis is:

  • an identification of the needs of your students, your teachers and your school
  • underpinned by relevant and reliable data
  • a process to establish a common understanding of where your school is at
  • a consideration of your school's performance in relation to its targets and improvement measures
  • inclusive of the learning needs of your teachers and leaders as well as your students
  • collaborative and consultative
  • a process that engages all staff in looking forward and determining future directions for the school.

A situational analysis is not:

  • anecdotal
  • developed in isolation by a small group or individual
  • a submission for funding
  • a public-facing document
  • a list of wants or desires
  • focused on a small but vocal section of the school or community
  • a top down approach.

Learn more

Find more information about School Excellence in Action or contact the team at sparo@det.nsw.edu.au.

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