A Principal’s reflection
Watch Geoff Masters on School Improvement.
Research is revealing the powerful impact that school leadership teams can have in improving the quality of teaching and learning. Effective leaders create cultures of high expectations, provide clarity about what teachers are to teach and students are to learn, establish strong professional learning communities and lead ongoing efforts to improve teaching practices.
The National School Improvement Tool was endorsed by the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) at its meeting on 7 December 2012 and has been made available to all Australian schools for use in their school improvement planning from 2013.
The National School Improvement Tool brings together findings from international research into the practices of highly effective schools and school leaders. The Tool assists schools to review and reflect on their efforts to improve the quality of classroom teaching and learning. It supports school-wide conversations – including with parents and families, school governing bodies, local communities and students themselves – about aspects of current practice, areas for improvement and evidence that progress is being made.
The Tool does not describe everything that effective schools do, but focuses on those practices that are most directly related to school-wide improvements, and thus outcomes for students. In this sense, the Tool can be thought of as a core element of more comprehensive school improvement programs, frameworks and initiatives.
The ultimate goal of school improvement is to improve outcomes for students, including levels of achievement and wellbeing. For this reason, direct measures of student outcomes are essential to all school improvement efforts. However, ‘school improvement’ fundamentally means improving what a school does. The Tool provides evidence about a school’s day-to-day work to complement, and possibly shed light on, measures of student outcomes.
The Tool consists of nine inter-related ‘domains’. Although the Tool has been designed to enable a judgement in relation to each domain separately, experience suggests that the most effective way to use the Tool is to make observations and gather evidence broadly about a school’s practices before focusing on individual domains. Schools may then decide to give priority to particular domains in their improvement efforts.
A key feature of the Tool is the set of performance levels, ‘Low’, ‘Medium’, ‘High’ and ‘Outstanding’. These levels enable schools to make judgements about where they are on their improvement journeys, to set goals and design strategies for improvement, and to monitor and demonstrate school improvement over time.
Read more about the nine inter-related 'domains' at the link on the left, or download a PDF of the Tool at the link on the right.