School operations

School Review

5 Preparing for a school review

5.1 Getting the most out of a school review

The new school review model is designed to harness the effort each school community invests in evaluating the school’s past and current performance through their pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE). From 2018 there is a greater focus on the preparation that leads to an effective and collaborative school review. This includes professional learning for school leaders and reviewers, designed to facilitate capability building and collaborative interaction. It aims to promote review outcomes that are tailored to each school.

Efficient processes have been introduced for scheduling school reviews and procuring a reviewer.

This means school leaders can allocate time previously committed to these administrative tasks to more incisive professional learning and to leading the PRSE (visit section 6 for more information).

‘Schools cannot improve student learning if they do not urgently focus on a small number of goals for improvement and commit together to a set of strategic actions to deliver upon the goals.’vii

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Purposeful professional learning

Leadership is key to school review. An effective review involves leaders who work collaboratively, understand the benefits of transparency to school improvement and have an awareness of how system-wide resources can be harnessed to accelerate practice change. Professional learning, emphasising the purpose of the school review model, is provided in the year of review to each school principal and their senior education improvement leader (SEIL). The opportunity for principals and SEILs to attend the professional learning together enhances the collaborative nature of the school review and promotes consistency in understanding of the review model and review roles, as well as its expectations and objectives.

The professional learning program equips schools with the tools necessary for engagement before and during and the school review to generate high-value review outcomes. Professional learning is scheduled throughout the year and available during the term before the school’s review commences.

Refer to key information and dates for the new school review processExternal Link for dates and more details. All reviewers must attend professional learning, which is designed to ensure state-wide consistency in the facilitation and delivery of school reviews.

New reviewers participate in an intensive accreditation process to prepare them for their role. They are required to meet a range of assessment tasks to assist them in progressing from provisional accreditation to full accreditation to lead school reviews.

Flexible learning option settings

From 2018, all Flexible Learning Option (FLO) settings will participate in school review. This will ensure school reviews consider the needs of all students, regardless of whether they are in mainstream or alternative settings. By incorporating FLO settings into the school review process, schools can identify areas of need in their FLOs that will form a key part of their improvement planning.

For FLO settings, the school review will provide analysis of performance against the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO), along with compliance with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications and Authority (VRQA) minimum standards for school registration. FLO settings will be contacted by their SEILs and provided with information to assist them through the school review process.

Casual relief teacher support for small schools

Due to their size and limited staffing profile, small schools face challenges in resourcing the preparation and conduct of their school reviews. Schools with an enrolment of under 100 students will be eligible to claim for reimbursement of up to two days of casual relief teacher funding to support their participation in the school review process.

5.2 Aligning review organisation and school needs

Reviewer matching

Reviewers are matched to schools through a central matching process to reduce the administrative burden on principals around reviewer selection. The matching process considers individual school contexts and needs. All reviewers are accredited to undertake the role to a high standard. It is a responsibility of all panel members to declare any perceived, potential or actual conflicts of interest with the reviewer. Where such conflicts happen, an alternative reviewer may be allocated to the school. Refer to Managing Probity and Conflict of Interest in School ReviewsExternal Link for more information.

If schools or SEILs have any concerns about the reviewer matched to a school, the SEIL can email for advice.

Review scheduling

With input from SEILs, the Department schedules all school reviews across four terms. The Department schedules a proposed week that each school will hold the review’s first day – the Validation Day. If the proposed date is not suitable for all Panel members, a more suitable date can be negotiated. Schools schedule the remaining review days in consultation with their reviewer and SEIL.

5.3 Length of the review

The new school review model replaces the previous peer/priority review model. There is now one common school review type under which the duration and focus of the review are tailored to each school’s individual needs. The tailored school review duration and focus considers the school’s overall performance group, its enrolment numbers, and status as a special school or flexible learning setting. These factors combine to produce a base number of review days.

On the first day of the review, the Validation Day, up to three additional days may be allocated to the review. This decision is based on the Panel’s on-balance judgement of the school’s need and its collective assessment of the school’s proficiency levels against the FISO Continua for School Improvement.

Refer to Section 9, Validation Day for more details.

Determining the length of the review

Each school receives a minimum of two, and a maximum of nine, reviewer ‘days’. Validation Day is the first day of school review.

In practice, each school review will generally span two to four days. Longer reviews will involve additional reviewers, rather than extra days.

For example, in a school that receives nine reviewer days the review may take place over three days with three reviewers involved.

Multiple factors determine the number of reviewer days allocated to a school. The Panel considers these factors to ensure each school gets an appropriate number of review days according to its specific context and current improvement trajectory.

Factors influencing review duration include the:

  • school’s differentiated school performance group (influence, recharge, renew, transform, stretch, not grouped)
  • school’s setting (specialist, flexible learning option)
  • school’s size (fewer than, or more than, 600 students)
  • the Panel’s collective assessment of the school’s proficiency level (Emerging/Evolving or Embedding/Excelling) for the priority area of excellence in teaching and learning on the FISO Continua
  • difference between the Panel’s collective assessment of the school’s proficiency level against the six High-impact Initiatives, and the school’s original self-assessment.

5.4 Scheduling Validation Day and initial review days

The allocated number of days based on factors 1 and 2 (school performance group, setting and size) is known before Validation Day. This enables the reviewer, SEIL and principal to make scheduling arrangements, and it is suggested that initial review days are booked before the Preparation Meeting. Assessment against factors 3 and 4 are not known until Validation Day. This means the length of the review cannot be finalised before Validation Day evidence-based decision-making is completed.

Factors influencing total allocation of school reviewer days

Confirmed before the review

Factor 1: Days based on performance group Validation Day plus number of additional days
Influence 1
Recharge 2
Renew 2
Stretch 2
Transform 3
Not grouped 1
Factor 2: Enrolment and specialist/alternative setting Day
Specialist school/alternative setting 1
600 or more students 1

Determined on Validation Day

Factor 3: Excellence in teaching and learning Day
If the Panel agrees the school’s proficiency level is emerging or evolving for this dimension overall 1
Factor 4: Difference between the Panel’s collective assessment and the school’s original self-assessment for the six high-impact initiatives Days
If the Panel rates the school lower in two or three areas 1
If the Panel rates the school lower in four or more areas 2
Guidance chapter on preparing for a school review

Reviewed 25 March 2021

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