3 Strategic Challenges for School
In Schools of today the idea of strategy and governance has come a long way from its infancy. The corporate climate has seen strategy become a key initiative that every school must consider in the context of its own, unique environment.
There was a time when for many schools strategy was considered little more than a nice to have with practical application often considered difficult to manage.
Legislators, courts and insurers combined with the evermore stringent demands of stakeholders, have ensured that this is no longer the case.
In this climate it has become essential for any school or organisation, whether it be a major public corporation or a member of the “not for profit” sector, to implement and integrate good Strategy as well as demonstrate governance of those practices throughout its organisation.
1. School Council or Board and Governance
A key function of a school council or board is the contribution to the development of a vision and direction for the School that will provide a level guidance to effectively oversee and review the school’s performance as part of a strategic planning process. Strategic planning is the process of reflecting on past performance, establishing future direction and deciding what will constitute success.
An essential aspect of good governance is to outline clear boundaries between the overall governance of the school being the responsibility of the board, and the day-to-day management and running of the school being the responsibility of the principal and executive team.
The best way to manage these boundaries is to outline clear policies and associated processes between the two school bodies that can provide agility in performance, accountability and transparent reporting structures.
This type of structure can provide a School Council or board the opportunity to focus on strategic factors such as developing, reviewing, communicating and monitoring the implementation of strategic goals that will ultimately uphold engagement with key stakeholders that is crucial to defining the identity of the school and maintaining its reputation today and into the future. skefto strategic planning software provides real time insights to the school Council and the Board and facilitates a dynamic and proactive approach to strategy execution whilst maintaining good governance practices.
2. Statutory Obligations
While most statutory legislation is dealt with by the Principal and management team within the daily operation of a School, it is imperative that the School Council or Board have a broad overview of their relevant statutory obligations.
Government funding is defined upon the school meeting specified accountability requirements outlined within the National School Reform Agreement that came into effect from 1 January 2019. The National Agreement is a joint commitment between the Commonwealth, states and territories to lift student outcomes across Australian schools that will provide a high quality and equitable education for all students. This national reform has placed strong emphasis on the required improvement of national data quality, consistency and collection to improve the national evidence base and inform policy development.
Under the Australian Education Act 2013 (Cth), a school commits to a number of initiatives and accountabilities which include:
- Teacher Performance and Development Framework,
- Providing staff with access to ongoing Professional Development,
- Implementing the Australian Curriculum,
- Participating fully in the National Assessment Program,
- Providing School Census Data,
- Providing School Performance Data,
- Completing and publishing an Annual Report,
- Providing to parents a minimum of two compliant student reports annually,
- National reports on the outcome of schooling; and
- Ensuring the school complies with relevant disability discrimination laws and finacnial reporting
On this basis It is important for a School council or Board to understand the implications of funding legislation, agreements and associated accountability requirements and ensure that the Strategic Plan school rules, regulations and guidelines are consistent with these requirements. skefto strategic planning software allows Schools to respond to shifts in a dynamic funding environment through the establishment, tracking and reporting of key performance measures. skefto also supports a ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ cycle for the implementation of continuous improvements, which are able to be linked with the National School Reforms and the Schools strategic plan.
3. Uniting the whole school community
A strong education system requires a strong community. Research from Australia and overseas has found that students achieve better outcomes from their education when schools, families and the communities work together to support student learning.
Engaging with a range of stakeholders from community, industry, government and tertiary education providers has important benefits for students. School and community partnerships have been found to re-engage students by broadening student experiences and providing access to resources and opportunities that could otherwise be difficult for schools to provide alone. It introduces new role models, new ideas, higher aspirations, exposure to work realities, community contribution and opportunities to identify and apply transferable skills in changing environments.
School staff also benefit from community collaboration as it provides opportunity to connect subject matter to work as well as insight into the ever changing nature of education, training and work.
A strategic plan can provide Schools with the opportunity to engage by inspiring their community to participate, take action and make change. When formulating a strategic plan containing good community engagement it is important to think about what you are seeking to achieve from collaborations and which partnerships will best meet the needs of your school community; Why collaboration could benefit not only the school community but the the greater community; and Who will you seek to engage with and for how long.
Collaborating on and sharing an engaging Strategic plan can make school goals clear and the vision more achievable, establishing an environment in which people can be empowered to take ownership of their role in the process which will inevitably lead to positive outcomes like higher teacher retention and student engagement.
skefto strategic planning software allows Schools to demonstrate its strategic performance (i.e. impact of School strategies on the community and students) and operational performance (i.e. performance of internal School operations to meet community and student expectations) through the development and execution of plans and monitoring and reporting of performance indicators. skefto strategic planning software also provides Schools a platform that breaks down a School strategic plan into divisional, team and individual staff plans with links between objectives, actions and performance indicators and results at each level.