The strategic role of the Board of Governors is to fulfil its functions in relation to raising and maintaining high standards of educational attainment within their schools.
In terms of the specific role for the Board of Governors in relation to school improvement, it has a responsibility for ensuring that the principal and the staff put in place all the necessary arrangements and mechanisms to help pupils succeed and to achieve their full potential. The Board of Governors are accountable for the standards achieved by its own pupils and therefore should:
- acquire an in-depth knowledge of the school, its principal and senior management team, its staff and standards achieved by the pupils;
- become part of a strong and effective leadership team of the school;
- promote strong links with parents, families and the community;
- ensure the school provides effective teaching and learning in the context of the revised curriculum;
- monitor the school’s performance and address under performance at the earliest opportunity;
- promote the effective use of data to support target setting (at pupil, class and whole-school level) and assessment for learning;
- promote regular and robust self-evaluation;
- approve the school development plan.
The Board of Governors should work with the principal in monitoring and evaluating the school’s performance and to promote self-evaluation as a means to achieve school improvement.
School Development Planning
The School Development Plan (SDP) is a strategic plan for improvement.
It provides the strategic framework for the governors, the principal and the staff to monitor and evaluate in a clear and simple way, the school priorities, the main measures it will take to raise standards for all pupils, the resources dedicated to these, and the key outcomes and targets it intends to achieve.
The board of governors of each grant-aided school is required to:
- Prepare, maintain and review on a regular basis the 3 year School Development Plan in consultation with the Principal and having regard to guidance given by the Department and the EA. The plan has to be revised no later than 3 years from the date of the last plan and no later than 6 months from the date of publication of the report of an inspection of the school
- Ensure that each governor, the principal and each staff member has a copy of the plan
- Submit a copy of the plan to the EA and to CCMS in the case of Catholic Maintained schools
- Ensure that a copy of the plan is available on request and free of charge at all reasonable times to any person
The preparation of the plan or a draft of the plan may be delegated to the Principal, but the plan must be formally approved by the school’s Board of Governors. Boards of Governors can take a much more active role in formulating the plan and are encouraged to do so. It is the responsibility of the governors to ensure that all the necessary arrangements and mechanisms are in place to help pupils succeed and to achieve their full potential.
The School Development Plan is a document for use by the school. It is essentially a tool to help the staff to promote school effectiveness; improve the quality of learning and teaching; improve the educational experience of the pupils; and to raise the standards which pupils attain. It is based on the school’s analysis of current levels of performance and its assessment of how current trends and future factors may impact on the school. It should set out priorities and targets for improvement for the period ahead.
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.
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 Department of Education has produced guidance on school development planning to support schools in working through the process of self-evaluation and development planning.
Guidance on Every School a Good School - School Development Planning has been prepared to support schools in working through the process of self-evaluation and development planning.
- Annex A - The Education (School Development Plans) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010
- Annex B - School development planning: Indicators of Effective Performance
- Annex C - School development planning: List of the Performance Levels and Descriptors
- Annex D - Guidance on the Effective Use of Data
- Annex E - Key Department of Education Policies for Education
- Annex F - School development planning: Resources to Support Self-Evaluation & Development
- Annex G - School development planning: Education for Sustainable Development
- Annex H - School development planning: Accounting For Targeting Social Need Funding
- Annex I - School Development Plan - Template Action Plan
The purpose of Guidance on School Development Planning for 2021/22 is to provide clarification to Boards of Governors and schools in relation to the requirements of school development planning for 2021/22, in the context of the ongoing disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance will be kept under review.
Self-Evaluation and School Governors
Self-evaluation is a process through which schools, individuals and various groups within a school reflect on their current practice, identify and celebrate their strengths and identify and address areas for improvement.
All schools are expected to engage in a rigorous and reflective process of self-evaluation against the characteristics of a successful school set out in Every School a Good School:
- Child-centred provision
- High quality teaching and learning
- Effective leadership
- A school connected to its local community
Self-evaluation leading to sustained self-improvement is at the core of school improvement.
ETI have designed guidance ‘Effective Practice and Self-Evaluation Questions for Governance’ to support governors with the development of their self-evaluation process and help senior leaders including governors to identify their strengths and areas for improvement and report on one of three confidence levels:
- High degree of confidence
- Limited confidence
The self-evaluation outcomes should lead to action to achieve the intended school improvements. It is intended that the self-evaluation is not just in preparation for inspection but is used by all Boards of Governors in implementing a rigorous and effective self-evaluation process as part of their own quality assurance arrangements, to determine their effectiveness and areas for development.