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Living Up To Expectations & Commitments – Execution of the Plan

As a school principal/vice-principal or headmaster, you must be having a definite plan and ideas on how you want to take your school forward by taking on board all its stakeholders. Execution of this plan is all about a process for establishing a shared understanding of what has to be achieved and how; then the school leadership works with staff, and staff work with each other, in ways that will enable it to be achieved (Zbar, et al., 2007, p. 1).

Another way of looking at it is as a process for ensuring that staff have mechanisms for giving and receiving feedback on their work, that assists them to improve what they do, and provides them with the best possible support so as to be more effective and work to the best of their ability (Zbar, et al., 2007, p. 2).

Good Plan

Before one thinks and worries about executing the plan, one has to ensure that the plan itself is good. Good planning:

• Has a clear focus on raising attainment and promoting pupils’ progress by concentrating, as appropriate, on the quality of learning and teaching;
• Involves, as appropriate, all the members/partners in the process;
• Complements, and is integral to, the school development plan;
• Contributes to the continuing process of self-evaluation leading to departmental and school improvement.

Not only that, but the plan should (Ruding, 2000, p. 86):

• Prioritize what needs to be done to raise standards;
• Be achievable within a realistic and specified timescale;
• For each issue:
– State the actions to be addressed;
– State clear performance indicators, targets and success criteria which will then enable progress in raising standards to be assessed;
– Set appropriate and realistic deadlines;
– State who will take responsibility;
– Identify arrangements for collecting data and evidence, where appropriate;
– Monitor the progress in implementing the action on the issue;
– Evaluate the effects of the action taken, particularly on pupil attainment and progress;
– Indicate who is responsible for each process and to whom, when and in what form they should report;
• Estimate the staff time and cost of any resources needed to implement the plan;
• Evolve, in the light of the evaluation processes for the plan.

Execution or Implementation of the Plan

To be able to execute the plan, a school leader must (Ruding, 2000, p. 76):

• Understand the aims of the school, and how the work of the team may support these aims;
• Understand that all people are different from each other and try to create interest, challenge, and enjoyment in work for everybody;
• Optimize the professional expertise, skills, and abilities of all members of the team to improve;
• Encourage the team to study and providing opportunities for professional development;
• Be a coach and counselor, not a judge;
• Understand how to make use of people’s abilities, aptitudes, and strengths, and how to identify their weaknesses and failures and help them to overcome these;
• Have three sources of power – formal position, knowledge and personality; a successful leader develops the second and third of these and does not rely on the first, but does use it when appropriate as this enables change to the system in order to bring improvement;
• Investigate and evaluate learning outcomes and other results with the aim of improving performance;
• Not expect perfection (the vision) but strive for it;
• Listen and learn without passing judgment on those who are speaking;
• Understand the benefits of co-operation and the losses resulting from competition between people and groups.

In order to carry through a ‘policy’ for a new initiative or a change in practice, one should ensure that there is a clear framework for implementation. As with any stage in the planning process, it is vital that the mission and vision of the team underpin any action taken (Ruding, 2000, p. 114):

• There needs to be positive leadership for the initiative;
• Members of the team have to be aware of the role of the ‘leader’ and their responsibilities within the plan;
• There must be a team commitment to the plan/initiative;
• There should be clear objectives including success criteria/performance indicators;
• The objectives should also have deadlines;
• Resource allocation of finance, materials, staff and time must be adequate;
• The deadlines and resource requirements should be monitored and revised, if necessary, at intervals during the implementation phase;
• The leader may have to intervene regularly with suggestions, encouragement, support, and help.

The Use of Performance Indicators to Establish Success Criteria

Identifying performance indicators is an integral part of any planning process. The performance indicators are used to identify and establish the success criteria by which the effectiveness of new plans are to be evaluated. The criteria selected should be measurable. They should be few in number and should be specific, to allow for accurate assessment of success (or lack of it) (Ruding, 2000, p. 102).

The various indicators can be enumerated under relevant categories as below (Ruding, 2000, pp. 102-113):

Leadership and Management of Staff – Indicators

• Professional qualifications, curricular experience and expertise:
– experience and present level of appointment;
– teachers’ qualifications;
– recent and relevant professional development;
– course and lesson planning;
• Effectiveness of communication
• Documentation
– job descriptions;
– teaching programs;
– pupil records, including assessments, benchmarks and targets;
– pupil reports;
• Attributes:
– personal impact and presence;
– adaptability;
– energy, vigor and perseverance;
– self-confidence;
– intellectual ability;
– reliability and integrity;
– commitment.

Quality of Teaching – Indicators

• Management and organization of time and the deployment of staff:
– teaching loads;
– deployment according to experience and special expertise, abilities, and skills;
– management of teaching time and conditions of service;
• Effectiveness of teaching:
– secure command of the subject and courses, the National Curriculum and its assessment;
– clear and appropriate goals in the context of well-planned, overt schemes of work;
– lessons are well planned and have suitable and relevant content;
– pupils are well managed;
– pupils are engaged and motivated;
– clear exposition and varied use of questioning with strategic recaps;
– frequent use of praise;
– high expectations of self and pupils;
– suitable pace and differentiation (by task and outcome), with support for less able and demanding targets for the more able;
– appropriate assessment and recording strategies;
– selection and use of appropriate teaching styles and strategies;
– appropriate homework to reinforce and/or extend learning;
• Achievement of targets:
– assessment including marking;
– workload distribution;
– equal opportunity issues – age, gender, ethnicity, special needs.

Quality of Learning – Indicators

Quality of curricular management

• Research and policy:
– curriculum offered and its relation to the National Curriculum;
– programs of study, syllabuses, schemes of work, lesson plans;
– benchmarking and target setting;
• Implementation:
– breadth, balance, coherence, and progression;
– equal opportunities and access;
– cross-curricular elements, particularly literacy, numeracy, and ICT;
– spiritual, moral, social and cultural development;
• Review and evaluation:
– analysis and development;
– differentiation;
– pupils with linguistic and other special educational needs.

Engagement in the learning process

• attitudes and behavior; relationships, pupil to pupil and pupil to teacher;
• motivation, interest, degree of attention and responsiveness;
• concentration, perseverance, enthusiasm, and excitement;
• problem-solving;
• observing, posing questions, seeking information, using and applying learning in new contexts;
• search for patterns and deeper understanding;
• evidence of understanding and retention;
• individual work, participation, and co-operation in groups;
• selection and handling of materials and equipment;
• variety of learning strategies and resources;
• communication, modification, and evaluation of work done.

Breadth and quality of the learning experience

• knowledge;
• conceptual understanding;
• learning related to needs;
• suitable level of task;
• curricular range and balance;
• continuity and progression;
• relevance and durability;
• values: social, moral, ethical and spiritual.

Outcomes of learning

• records of achievement, individual educational plans;
• personal, social and cultural development;
• literacy: reading, writing, listening and speaking;
• numeracy;
• information and communications technology;
• scientific understanding;
• creativity;
• moral, ethical and spiritual development;
• attitudes to work, other people and society;
• attainment and achievement measures, including tests, public examinations, other standardized tests and records of achievement;
• value-added measures and their use at school and subject levels;
• destinations of school leavers.

Liaison with Parents – Indicators

• The information available to parents:
– statutory information;
– inspection reports;
– the school calendar;
– the lesson and homework timetables;
– newsletters;
– reports of positive pupil achievement and endeavor;
– instances of concern about pupils before problems become more serious;
– opportunities for individuals to seek advice and ask questions;
– parent governor involvement in information seeking and distribution;
• Opportunities to meet staff and other parents
• Participation in the work of the school
• Use of the school by parents:
– a pleasant welcome and a comfortable, private waiting area;
– a notice board for use by parents;
• Attitudes of parents towards the school:
– active parent/teacher association, parents’ association, ‘Friends of the School’, etc.;
– level of attendance at annual parents’ meeting, year group parents’ evenings, school presentation and performance evenings;
– level of interest in PTA events and in extra-curricular and out of school activities.

Liaison with other Schools/Colleges, the Community and
other Agencies – Indicators

• The time and opportunities given to inform the ‘external partners’ of the work of the subject, department, year group or class;
• Attempts made to publicize and market the work of the department, year group or class;
• Involvement in school activities – presentation and open evenings, performances, careers evenings, extra-curricular and out of school activities, etc.;
• Links with local industry and commercial companies, work experience, teacher placements and secondments from industry to the school;
• Sponsorships.

Call to Action

We at Butterfly Fields are in constant touch with and indulging in rich interactions with all the stakeholders of the school system, from the students to the school leadership. Hence, we have a thorough understanding of the lacunae in the system, the shortcomings in the syllabus and pedagogy, and other such issues. So, please do contact us so that we can make valuable suggestions to you in enabling you to execute your plan successfully and meet the expectations and commitments of all concerned.

References

Ruding, E., 2000. Middle Management in Action: Practical Approaches to School Improvement. 1st ed. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Zbar, V., Marshall, G. & Power, P., 2007. Better Schools, Better Teachers, Better Results. 1st ed. Victoria: ACER Press.

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