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Newsletters


2020-03-13
Newsletter 234 - School Development & Improvement Planning 2006-2009 - PART 10


4   SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT AND IMPROVEMENT PLANNING

THE CONCEPT AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

Over the years we have been experimenting with various concepts to best define, explain and illustrate the planning in schools as a unique (complex) but also a common (simple & plain) type of organization. At the very heart of School Development and Improvement Planning (SDP) is the concept of “making those strategic links in the ongoing quest for excellence in schools”. SDP, used in this context, as a theoretical concept/construct implies both process and outcome. The Circuit Team Manager’s model is neither unique nor substantially different to the one advocated by the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS)). My approach is rather eclectic in the sense that it does not claim to be unique but rather
- borrows from others…taking the best from other approaches
- is infused with a wealth of domestic experience and
- present a framework for ongoing SDP monitoring and evaluation
- direct link with School Improvement Plan (SIP) with the School Annual Plan

Development and improvement in this model are used interchangeably. Depending on who you are, when and where in space and time you are, which activity you are busy with, you may want to use both words separately, differently and distinctly … for purposes of this model pay no further attention to this debate.

SDP broadly consists of two (2) arms or processes namely School Annual Planning and School Development/Improvement Planning.
1. School Annual Plan [Maintenance/Operational arm]
? School Curriculum Plan
? School Operational Plan - day-to-day
2. School Development Plan [Improvement arm]
? School Curriculum Improvement Plan
? School Improvement Plan

4.1 UNPACKING THE ASSUMPTIONS
? National & Provincial Policy provides for a set of Minimum Standards
? Input, Output & Throughput/Process
? Planning is not an option … it is an imperative
? Conceptual & Contingent link between two arms of scale [maintenance x improvement]
? Separation of maintenance and improvement is for operational & system-thinking purposes (no real separation exists)
? School has a core role & function/purpose – learning and teaching through curriculum delivery
? Other support roles & functions (pastoral)
? Schools as organizations will first crawl, walk [maintenance] and then fly [improvement] – these three stages may also co-exist within the same organization
? Premise for development - solutions & ownership must come from within – support & guidance will come from outside
? Various school systems are directly linked – find and establish the link … “these are the ingredients to your recipe for improvement”
? All learners can learn … and all schools can improve
? Before asking for more … assess how well you make do with what it is you have – quality control
? Minimum standard is mandatory … immediate and full implementation and compliance – this is not an option or choice … it is an imperative and a prerequisite
? Improvement over a period of time – it takes time
? The quest for excellence is a process … not an outcome
? Abandon concept – “slaves of tradition”
? School is a learning organization
? Change, transformation, evolution
? “New South African – value-system”
? Access, Equity & Quality
? Values and culture is both implied and explicit in organization
? Setting standards is not without its values … it has its own socio-political and economic context

4.2 UNPACKING THE PROCESS
? Step 1 – define the core & support/other business of your organization (could be learning and teaching or pastoral in nature) – this must be a realistic assessment of your circumstances. Apportion the time and energy required to do core business vis-à-vis the support or other business
? Step 2 – define other roles and functions (the support and other business)
? Step 3 – complete your school profile (refer to WSE School Self Evaluation)
? Step 4 – management and governance to define an introductory message
? Step 5 – do a situational analysis (SWOT) of both your (a) external and (b) internal environment and (c) across the nine (9) WSE functional areas
? Step 6 – prioritize your demands/ areas for development arm [short, medium, long term]
? Step 8 – finalize action plans (What, How, Who, When, Costs)
(Refer to the new SIP)

4.3 LESSONS LEARNT FROM 2002-2007
The experience of monitoring and assessing school developmental planning has indeed been fruitful and extremely insightful. Let me use this opportunity to share some of the most strategic lessons learnt from the experience since 2002.
? It is reasonably expected that when the School Principal submits the SDP/SIP the supervisor (IMG Manager) will assess the plan and give structured feedback – the aim would be to find an answer to the primary question “Is the school as an organization on the right track?”
? Assessing the SDP/SIP and giving structured feedback has indeed been a huge task undertaken initially with very little success … much improvement has taken place due to important lessons learnt
? The nature of the job and support of the Circuit Team Manager has impacted negatively on the ability to give individual and structured feedback to most schools.
Some of these constraints have now been removed with the full implementation of the current micro redesign of the WCED and the establishment of Circuit Teams
? Assessing the SDP (the document) has had its own set of challenges and demands on the Circuit Manager of old
o Finding an appropriate model for assessment
o Checking the assumptions of the appropriate model
o Developmental (politically correct) language used caused more uncertainty and vagueness (to obscure more than to clarify)
o Triangulating/cross referencing the (1) experience (assessing the SDP hard copy) with the (2) assumptions of the model with the (3) experience of the Circuit Manager about the school has not always been in tune or aligned
o Schools being both unique and similar by nature … a necessary contradiction
o The lack or absence (at the time) of a standard, a good practice or a benchmark…the South African collective perception of excellence has further bedeviled this process (remember I too enter this process with my perceptions, stereotyping and prejudice)
o The presentations from schools had high level (100%) of variation
? Different models (implied or explicit) were used
? Different format
? Different lay-outs
? Different presentations
? Great variation between experience/practice and SDP presented.
? Different technical detail

4.4 ASSESSMENT OF THE SDP (THE BROAD FRAMEWORK/MODELS)
? Core function vis-à-vis Support/ Pastoral by nature
? Input, through-put, output
? Crawling, Walking and Flying
? 9 Focus Areas of Whole School Development (indicators and descriptors)
? Operational vis-à-vis Development/Improvement

THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNT
(1) THE NEED TO STANDARDIZE
(2) UNIFORMITY
(3) THE RICHNESS OF DIVERSITY AND VARIETY HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY CONTRIBUTED TO OUR NEW STANDARD (A COLLECTION OF GOOD PRACTICES FOR BENCHMARKING) IN THE CIRCUIT
(4) ARRIVING AT AND NOT IMPOSING A “NEW STANDARD”
(5) CAPACITY & COMPETENCE MUST NOT BE ASSUMED, IT MUST BE DEVELOPED.

4.5 CHALLENGES FACING SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT PLANNING
? To plan
? To plan smartly … not to over-plan or under-plan
? To plan appropriately … given your context
? To implement your planning
? To monitor and evaluate your planning
? To set standards and further improve on these standards
? To reflect on both your planning and implementation
? Simply put … to make planning a living part of the day-to-day running of the organization!

4.6 THE MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR SDP
The SDP must provide for,
? Three (3) chapters…
? School Self Evaluation (SSE) – Introduction and Setting the scene
? School Annual Plan (SAP) – Operational Plan
? School Improvement Plan (SIP)
? Planning cycle 2009-2011
? Reminder…due to cyclical nature of SDP your update is directly linked to,
? The planning cycle 2009-2011
? Due date for submission of the plan
? First Cycle – Chapter One - October 2008
Chapter Two - February 2009 thereafter October 2009
Chapter Three - Primary Schools – End of November
High Schools – End of February
In order to develop a shared understanding of certain SDP concepts the following dictionary definitions are provided,
? PRESCRIBED -“to lay down as a rule or direction; to give as an order”
? STANDARDISED -“to make or keep of uniform size, shape etc.”
? MINIMUM STANDARD -“level of excellence or required adequacy”
? SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT PLANNING
? PROCESS of consultation, collaboration and cooperation
? PRODUCT – the plan.

4.7 MONITORING AND EVALUATION
? FIRST-LEVEL OF ASSESSMENT – IMG Manager to issue letters of acceptance/compliance starting March 2009
? Plan submitted according to prescribed minimum standard (no evaluation of the school data)
? SECOND-LEVEL OF ASSESSMENT – IMG Manager to meet full SMT for 1 x three (3) hours + 1 x two (2) hours – (visitation schedule to follow)
? Is plan coherent (consistent and connected)
? Is plan valid (fulfilling all necessary conditions in logic)
? Is plan credible (reliable, confidence)
? Cross-referencing and triangulation of data
? C/M to have an authentic (genuine or accurate) conversation with SMT
? “Do all your numbers add up” – input, throughput, output
? SDP both process and product
? Ongoing monitoring and evaluation
? C/M to check assumptions with SMT
? Maintenance and Improvement
? Core and Pastoral functions
? Making strategic links
? Effective and Efficiency
? The “minimum standard”
? Setting standards and targets
? Input, throughput, output
? Crawling, Walking, Flying
? Bridging the gaps
? Finding the correct and appropriate balance
? Approval of SDP by IMG Manager

4.8 SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT PLANNING PROCEDURE FOR 2009
IMG Manager will meet with the full and extended School Management Team on two occasions during 2009 – visitation schedule to follow
For the first consultation (APRIL-MAY) the morning session will be 08h00-12h00 and the afternoon session 12h00-16h00.
During the second consultation (JULY-SEPTEMBER) the morning session will be 09h00-11h00 and the afternoon session 13h00-15h00.
Principals are requested to plan and arrange for these meetings and ensure no unnecessary interruptions or distractions.
Planning and preparation for these consultations
? Each member of the SMT must have a copy of the full School Development Plan
? SMT members must have read and studied the plan
? The IMG Manager will preside over and open & close the meeting
? IMG Manager to provide a register of attendance
? Principal to welcome everyone
These consultations and dialogue will be recorded.

FIRST CONSULTATION
? IMG Manager to introduce discussion by providing overview about School Development Planning and the new SIP(15 minutes)
? IMG Manager to provide feedback on School Development Plan 2009-2011 (30 minutes)
? Principal to respond (15 minutes)
? Open discussion (60 minutes)
? Circuit Manager to summarize and introduce the way forward (plan approved/rejected) (30 minutes)

SECOND CONSULTATION
? Principal to provide and speak to a written report-back on (45 minutes)
? Issues and matters discussed at the first meeting
? Report back on the implementation of the School Development Plan
? IMG Manager to respond (15-20 minutes)
? Open discussion (30 minutes)
? IMG Manager to summarize and introduce the way forward (20-25 minutes)