Planning has always been a central focus in the education sector, with the emphasis on school generated plans. Self-evaluation has become a priority and schools are now required to develop a self-evaluation process. The hope is that this will provide a clear roadmap, allowing schools to prosper and grow in the current challenging environment. The education sector is facing many challenges at present; time constraints, reduced personnel and reduced middle management support, this leaves a major planning process challenge for Irish schools.

Pinta offer an independent, unique, practical, self-evaluation planning framework, delivered in a much more timely fashion, as opposed to the previous educational planning processes. This process offers both the school management and staff a comprehensive mechanism to implement and track the progress of its self-evaluation planning. This will ensure the entire school system is aligned to deliver on its goals and objectives. It creates a vibrant, clearly focused school plan, which all educational partners can claim ownership of.

A Case Study

The Rosses Community School has a student population of 492, a 43% increase in six years, and a teaching staff of 43. It has 7 Special Needs Assistants, a school secretary, two caretakers and ancillary staff. The Rosses Community School is committed to innovation, reflective practice and a solutions based approach, in order to best meet the changing needs of an ever evolving school community.

As it looks to the future, RCS has, through its self evaluating, strategic approach,identified key strategic areas to which they are committed and focused. From a curricular perspective, the school recognises the need to develop both Junior and Leaving Certificate subject options and appropriate Post Leaving Cert Courses – courses which will address the increasing social pressures being exerted on young people today. Facilities have also been identified as a key area for development, with particular emphasis on the teaching and learning environment, draft plans are now in progress for many projects, as a result of this strategic process. The Rosses Community School will continue to identify and strive to meet the needs of their student community.

The Rosses Community School was faced with continued accelerated growth, the school needed a framework that would enable them to gather insights from their staff, students, parents and community. Thus enabling the management team to create a framework for success.

Pinta were engaged to create a Strategic Plan for the School for the period 2013 – 2016.

The Approach

The approach was to build a comprehensive strategic plan that would embrace all facets of the school, enabling the management team and staff to promote student achievement, further strengthen academic quality and reputation, proactively develop partnerships in the community and increase and maximise the schools resources. The project began with an initial meeting with the Principal to formulate an approach – to develop a strategic plan for the school. The starting point in the exercise was forming a steering group to act as an advisory group for the process. This group consisted of local business people, past pupils, current staff, primary school representatives, students and members of management from a local third level institution.

The approach was deeply consultative, engaging with management, staff, students, parents and the community, by using an appreciative inquiry (AI) framework. AI is best suited for distilling the views and priorities of diverse stakeholders, with a focus on the positive, focusing teams on what could be, rather than letting teams deconstruct great ideas, based on perceptions from the past.

Facilitated workshops were held, where they focused on the opportunities in the school. This would facilitate growth, increased student satisfaction and educational excellence. Innovative, challenging ideas, creating new opportunities were developed here. Thus building on current strengths of the school, whilst identifying new possibilities for students in the future. Online surveys were also conducted with parents and students, to gather their opinions.

The Result

A comprehensive Strategic Plan was published to parents, students, staff and management, at a launch in January 2013, which coincided with the annual school awards event.

At this launch students of the school presented the macro initiatives that will support the growth of the school over the next three years. This included initiatives with action plans in place for the following areas; communications, leadership and management, financial planning and fundraising, facilities, teaching and learning, health and lifestyle and connecting with the community

The Outcome

Rosses Community School now has a new committee structure in place that is responsible for delivering each component of the plan. These committees follow the specific action plans derived in the strategic plan and update the projects accordingly. The Rosses Community School has also secured funding for developing a school library as a result of the plan and have many local businesses supporting the activities and facility development within the school. The value of the combination of the organisational expertise of Pinta and the educational expertise of Rosses, has led to a vibrant and practical self evaluation process.

“The Board of management and senior management of Rosses Community School are delighted with the end product, of the Strategic Plan 2013 – 2016. This process has produced an exciting and vibrant roadmap for the future.

It was a wonderful process to partake in, a bright future has emerged from the effort and enthusiasm of all the educational partners and their work on this project. This is a unique and dynamic document, in the educational sector, capturing the self-evaluation process at its best.”

John Gorman, RCS, Principal