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School Development Planning

School Development Planning


The School Development Plan (SDP) is a strategic plan for improvement. It should bring together, in a clear and simple way, the school priorities, the main measures it will take to raise standards, the resources dedicated to these, and the key outcomes and targets it intends to achieve.

The ‘Every School a Good School' policy emphasises that school improvement is first and foremost the responsibility of the school.  It is based on the premise that schools themselves are best placed to identify areas for improvement and to implement changes that bring about better outcomes for pupils.

School improvement is most likely to be sustained when a school establishes a culture of aspiration and a commitment to promoting regular and robust self-evaluation.  Self-evaluation must be an integral part of the school development planning process with the resulting actions and targets captured in school development plans (SDPs).

The 1998 Education order places a duty on Boards of Governors, to prepare and periodically revise a school development plan.  In doing so, Boards of Governors are required to consult the principal and consider any guidance provided by: the Department of Education; the Education Authority; in the case of catholic maintained schools the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS); and also any inspection findings.

The ‘Education (School Development Planning) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010’ set out the detailed requirements relating to the preparation of school development plans and the schedule matters.

The Education (School Development Plans) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

The Department of Education has produced guidance on school development planning to support schools in working through the process of self-evaluation and development planning.

DE Circular 2010/22 “School Development Planning – Regulations and Guidance”

Every School a Good School – School Development Planning 2010 Guidance

The Department of Education also produces on a yearly basis a circular which sets out the general context for school development planning and provides benchmarking information for target setting in primary and post-primary schools.

Circular 2016/14 – School Development Planning and Target Setting Post-Primary

Circular 2016/03 – School Development Planning and Target Setting Primary    


The Education and Library Boards (ELBs) were dissolved on 31 March 2015. The Education Authority was established on 01 April 2015 and is now responsible for all of the operational functions previously carried out by the five ELBs in accordance with the Education Orders.

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