Stage 3 - analyse internal school data, research and literature
Reflection of 2018-2020
Our existing school plan has three strategic directions; Teaching, Leading and Learning. Moving into the next school plan we won’t separate the three domains of the SEF like this as it made it difficult to evaluate and reflect on literacy and numeracy progress. Each of these strategic directions had three processes each, totalling nine processes across the plan. It was difficult to implement nine processes simultaneously across the school. In the next school plan we will narrow the quantity of our initiatives ensuring a sustained focus on quality.
The existing school plan saw the implementation of Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) as a whole school behaviour system. This system has shown promising signs of success and will continue to be a core focus of our wellbeing approach.
The focus on teacher deep engagement with the syllabus documents, particularly English and mathematics saw the quality implementation of explicit teaching using assessment data to differentiate the curriculum. However, further work needs to be done in this space around using data in teaching to improve growth in reading and numeracy for all students.
The existing school plan focus of Future-focused Learning was intended to embed an integrated curriculum with an emphasis on critical creative thinking and technology. While there were many successes and highlights within this work, it was difficult to maintain explicit focus and momentum on this in isolation to literacy and numeracy. In the next school plan the successful practices learnt in this plan will be subsumed into other areas.
Reflection on WWB
Over the last few years we have had intermittent focus on themes from the CESE publication ‘What works best’ (WWB). Specifically, we have had a whole school focus on Explicit Teaching and Feedback. While we have had this focus, our results have not reflected the evidence base. As a result we would like to build on this initial work and have a renewed focus on the consistency and process quality with which the themes are implemented. To help establish staff perceptions in relation to current WWB practices, staff were surveyed. Notable results are recorded here:
- Most teachers (>90%) strongly agreed that they:
- had positive relationships with their students
- are good at keeping students motivated, engaged and focused
- provide feedback to students.
- Most teachers (>90%) disagreed or strongly disagreed that they:
- feel equipped to analyse data
- receive helpful feedback about their teaching
- regularly collaborate to reflect on student data to inform practice.
Leading improvement, innovation and change
Moving forward we want a shared approach to school improvement across the school with a focus on embedding evaluative practices to draw upon relevant and reliable data to make evidence-informed decisions about teaching and learning. The school executive will play a key role in scaling these practices across the school. To inform the school improvement agenda staff were surveyed and focus groups were conducted. A summary of the findings is recorded here:
- Staff believe that they can improve and that drawing on literature and research can be beneficial to teaching practice. However, finding relevant and reliable research and translating it into tangible teaching strategies is time consuming and difficult to evaluate.
- Teachers feel that they have the capabilities and willingness to collaborate but competing priorities often impact on the opportunities to do this with the depth and specificity to make this meaningful.
- They indicated that the school has a positive collaborative climate but a reoccurring theme was that the climate would be improved through establishing transparent systematic processes for collecting and reflecting on student learning data.
There is anecdotal evidence from our community, neighbouring high schools and feeder pre-schools that our students would benefit from strengthened transition programs.
Process for the consideration of literature and research
To help us plan for how we would address the teaching, leading and learning needs of our school we considered our current needs. Because we had authentically self-assessed against the SEF we were able to articulate both where we were and where we wanted to be in four years’ time which is defined by DoE as the Excelling statements in the SEF.
To inform the best way to get there we had to consider the research and literature. In past school plans we had cherry-picked aspects of research and utilised external providers. This had led to inconsistent implementation of our school improvement agenda and contributed to change fatigue in our teachers. In this situational analysis we drew on the evidence base that underpins the SEF, which CESE has synthesised into practical and actionable publications.
We identified four major publications to support us to address our needs:
- Wellbeing literature review
- The role of student engagement in the transition from primary to secondary school
- What Works Best: Evidence-based practices to help improve student performance
- What works best in practice
- How schools can improve in literacy and numeracy and why it (still) matters.
CESE is not the only research we drew upon, we did however utilise the CESE evidence hierarchy and advice on how to read research articles to help find research and literature that was external to DoE but still relevant to us.