There is a large body of research evidence that shows where practitioners are provided with the opportunities to collaborate, they feel empowered and achieve better outcomes for learners. Professional development through collaboration is an important element in leading improvement.
Falkirk Council Service and School Improvement Team collected feedback from a range of planning events for senior leadership teams that were held in 2017/18. Participants said that they benefited from the following aspects of these events:
- the opportunity to collaborate with other leadership teams, along with staff from the Service and School Improvement Team;
- protected planning time away from school;
- individual improvement coaching and support from the Scottish Government Improvement Adviser and their link Team Managers; and
- a focus on the best measures to apply when reporting improvement.
As a result of this feedback and building on the clear benefits of collaboration, a bespoke 'Planning for Improvement' programme was developed and delivered in 2018/19. This programme focused on a practicum approach to the management of improvement and included improvement methodology coaching.
A key element in the delivery of the 'Planning for Improvement' programme was enabling participants to have planned and protected time to work together, with a focus on:
- quality assuring the purpose and usefulness of the School Improvement Plan
- further developing improvement planning processes using improvement methodology
- using the right measures to evidence progress
The planned outcomes for the programme included:
- understanding measures and outcomes
- evaluating the impact of planned improvements
- succinct, evaluative writing
- understanding shifts, skills and trends to support effective reporting on improvement
- contributing to self-evaluation processes and Standards and Quality reporting
- providing more detailed evidence, as appropriate, of Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) spend
- informing the collaborative aspect of the School Improvement Planning (SIP) process
- How do you ensure that improvement is central to everything you do?
- To what extent is improvement methodology understood by senior leaders?
- How do you use data effectively to drive forward improvement?
- How do you promote collaboration and ensure it leads to improved outcomes for learners?
Following an introductory session in September 2019, participants were committed to attending a series of monthly dates to focus on various aspects of improvement methodology, leading improvement and evidencing impact.
Facilitated sessions from October 2018 to March 2019 provided specialist input on a range of topics, including:
- understanding shifts and trends, visualisation of data, run charts
- change ideas, Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) testing
- collaboration, improvement walls, sharing the learning
- Data Tracking, ‘Story so Far’.
In May 2019, events were held bringing Senior Leadership Team’s together again to work on finalising school improvement plans and Standards and Quality reports with the main focus being on measuring for improvement.
The programme will close with an Improvement Showcase event for all participants in September 2019.