3 A new school review model

3.1 Optimising the impact of school reviews

A school review helps a school community by identifying goals and targets to improve student outcomes in the school’s next four-year School Strategic Plan. The new school review model is designed to reflect the significance of review outcomes for school leadership, professional practice, curriculum content, student voice and school culture.

The new review model engages all School Review Panel members in gathering and testing evidence about current school performance. Thoughtful examination of performance data is an essential part of the core Panel members’ task. This, teamed with observations and fieldwork, determines the actions that will help the school to improve. In respecting the insights that data provides, it is important that the school review process also acknowledges that the improvement journey for every school is different. There is no ‘one size fits all’ formula for school improvement.

Celebrating and responding to difference

We celebrate the diversity of Victoria’s government schools; from rural P–12 colleges, to new primary schools in metropolitan growth corridors and long-established secondary schools in regional cities. Each school has a unique story. Schools’ needs, interests, learning skill sets and aspirations are as diverse as their communities. The new school review model respects the diversity of school contexts and is responsive to variations in current school performance.

The new school review model supports each school to differentiate its improvement journey by building on its current strengths and assisting it to respond to its challenges. The new approach:

  • welcomes school community participation in the review
  • embraces the input of experts from both within and beyond the school
  • forges links between evidence, school review, and strategic and annual planning
  • obtains insights from a differentiated method for understanding school performance
  • seeks multiple perspectives, engagement with the whole school community and openness to challenge for improvement
  • celebrates strengths and achievements

The culture shift must see schools become centres for continuous improvement, where principals, teachers and other staff strengthen their ability to learn together and where no matter how good the school may be, curiosity about strengthening student learning and thinking, and the drive to be better is its most urgent work.’iv

3.2 Empowered professional accountability

The new school review model emphasises continuous improvement. It affirms that every student, no matter their background or circumstances, has a right to learn in a school committed to improvement. It maintains that every school can, and will, improve.

The review empowers teachers and school leaders. It approaches school improvement as a school-based endeavour that draws upon professional expertise and a collective commitment to honing professional practice across the school in ways that are responsive to student learning, engagement and wellbeing.

The school review includes assessing the minimum standards for school registration as set in the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017External Link . Meeting compliance requirements is important, however, excellent schools in a high performing school system go further. Activating our shared purpose and our professional accountabilities as educators leads us to evaluate and revise the influence of teaching and leadership practice on student learning and school culture.

‘The goal and focus of education reform is to improve learning by students. This is the moral purpose for which schools exist, and ultimately the reason teachers and principals (and others throughout the system) will undertake change.’ v

3.3 Key benefits of the new model

There is one common review process, with its focus and length tailored to reflect each school’s needs and local context. This approach is complemented by a new performance reporting approach, the differentiated school performance groups, which provides a picture of performance that is differentiated for every school (refer to appendix D for more information).

Individual school needs are identified through evidence-referenced analysis undertaken in the PRSE and explored further during the review itself.

This approach to review ensures every school receives challenge and support appropriate to its needs.

The review is an opportunity for schools to find their needs and stretch further in their pursuit to enhance student learning. For schools with high and improving performance, review outcomes can provide opportunities to extend understanding of future improvement and planning. Schools advancing towards high and improving performance benefit from the review model’s concentrated focus on developing a shared understanding of current performance and in diagnosing areas for improvement.

There are seven key benefits to the new review model.

Key features of the new model

  • Use of data to differentiate support and monitor impact on student learning
  • Increased role of self-evaluation
  • Focus on evidence of improved teaching practice
  • Investment in high performance learning cultures to sustainably transform student learning
  • A core independent review for all, tailored to school need
  • Stronger connection between review and differentiated support
  • A more agile and responsive process to ensure accelerated achievement of Education State targets with a stronger regional role in supporting the lowest performing schools to embed the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) Essential Elements

3.4 At a glance: the school review process

The school review process sits within the ‘evaluate and diagnose’ phase of the FISO Improvement Cycle.

As schools complete their review and start developing their School Strategic Plan, they move into the ‘prioritise and set goals’ phase.

At a glance: the school review process

At a glance: the school review process - improvement cycle process
At a glance: the school review process

Improvement cycle phase

Evaluate and diagnose

Pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE)

School engages its community in the pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE) in preparation for the review and prepares PRSE Report. Principal provides electronic VRQA documentation to review and prepares PRSE report. Principal provides electronic VRQA documentation to reviewer and PRSE Report and data to core members of the School Review Panel.

Preparation meeting

Reviewer, SEIL and principal develop an agenda and methodology for the Validation Day (including classroom observations/focus groups) and schedule known review dates. Review Panel members familiarise themselves with the PRSE report and other school data and evidence of performance.

Validation Day

Panel tests and validates school’s PRSE and agrees on school’s performance against goals and targets and its place on the FISO Continua of Practice, which informs the focus and duration of the review. The Panel develops focus questions and methodology for the rest of the review.

Note: In a two-day review, Fieldwork and School Review panel meeting occur on the same day


Fieldwork activities to investigate the focus questions as planned on the Validation Day. For two-day reviews, the core School Review Panel members are likely to be involved in the fieldwork. For the two-day reviews, the core School Review Panel members are likely to be involved in the fieldwork. For the longer reviews, the reviewers will undertake fieldwork.

School Review Panel Meeting

Panel convenes to share and discuss review findings and develop directions for the next School Strategic Plan, including goals, targets and key improvement strategies (KIS). Reviewer meets with SEIL and principal to discuss VRQA check

Review Report

Reviewer develops report reflecting panel’s views. Report presented to staff and school council. Panel provides directions on goals, targets, KIS and FISO initiative to form the basis of the School Strategic Plan (SSP)

Prioritise and set goals

School Strategic Plan

The goals, targets, KIS and FISO initiative form the basis of the first draft of the SSP.

Download At a glance: the school review process
Guidance chapter outlining the new school review model

Reviewed 13 June 2020

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