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School improvement: Has everyone got the message?

This post looks at how to best communicate a school improvement message!

School leaders are involved in recording school improvement through a number of documents, SEF, SIP and possibly even a post Ofsted action plan!

Don’t hide it away!

I’ve seen many occasions where these documents are kept within the confines of the Leadership team and Governing body, this is not the most effective practice!

vital improvement docsIf you want to improve a school everyone in the school needs to be involved in the process (they don’t have to have written the action plan). Staff need to see these documents for several reasons;

  • To feel part of the improvement (encourages ‘buy-in’) not see it as something being done to them!
  • To see the scope of improvement needed and planned
  • To understand their role in the ‘grand scheme’

That’s the why, I want to focus on very quick and effective ways off communicating the plan for improvement to a whole school in order to aide the process.

It’s how you share that’s important

You might choose to share the documents above (I encourage you do) but the draw back of these documents can actually be their detail.

They have to have that detail but that detail might put off some staff and prevent their engagement.

It’s these staff you MUST get your message through to!

Simple headings in your improvement message

EVERYONE in school plays a role in school improvement so the challenge for leadership is to condense improvement plans into two simple things;

  • What needs improving
  • How are we going to improve

How do you simplify the school improvement message?

Distil the message!
improvement stickys

Example of simplified improvement priorities

As a leadership team, look at the breadth of improvement areas and try to summarise each in just one word, then allow yourself to build up to a short sentence from there – confining yourself to a sticky note can help keep your word count down.

It’s a challenge but it’s vital to sharing your message effectively with a large number of people that you simplify it.

From key words to key actions

One sentence highlights are the start – the introduction to the broad improvement aims.

With those set and shared you have to start building on these with clear actions and expectations about improvement.

Start with goals

Set and share short term goals which play a vital role in realising the longer term ‘We’ll get back to Good’ message.

1/2 termly targets covering for example; behaviour, lateness, observations, give you (if all goes well) a frequency of positive progress to share with staff. This helps everyone to feel they’re making progress every day, rather than blindly soldiering on until the end of year review or next inspection visit.

If you can start to show staff that short term targets are being met then you begin to build up an ongoing positive atmosphere of improvement being something the whole school is involved in realising.

Goal sheets

school goals image

One way of communicating clear goals and the planned actions to realise these effectively is to create ‘goal sheets’ as shown above (template available for Word). These simplify the Goal as a heading but then break down the detail of who the goal is achieved by and uses a clear colour coded (priority) structure.

Hearts and Minds

Don’t underestimate the value of winning over the hearts and minds of your staff! Yes achieving a ‘Good’ from Ofsted when they next visit is the big pay off, but it’s no good (likely even impossible) if you’ve flogged your staff to death in search of that outcome.

Wellbeing and improvement

Appoint someone to be responsible for wellbeing – go into town on a Saturday and buy £5 worth of apples from your local fruit stall (you’ll find you can buy loads) and have them in the staff room Monday morning. Little signs you know staff have it tough but you still care go a long way towards achieving the ‘bigger goal’.


Thats a lot to take in, here’s a summary:

  • Start big and distil to smallest message you can effectively communicate
  • Make things clearly and easily measurable
  • Keep people safe and well and show you care

Good luck!

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