7 Participants in school reviews
7.1 Collaboration is at the heart of school reviews
Students who are part of a community are more likely to be academically motivated, act ethically, develop social and emotional competencies and avoid problem behaviours. Being part of a community creates shared values and builds a collective responsibility that supports students’ learning.
The new model of school review strives to connect student learning with social transformation, building a focus on collaborative professionalism and embracing partnership. It does so for a practical reason: a transparent review process bases its deliberations and decisions on evidence from multiple sources, and it tests that evidence by inclusive inquiry.
The input of the broader school community lays the foundations for a greater understanding and ownership of the school strategic plan. Every School Strategic Plan will involve change, but with the involvement of the school community the change will happen with the support and involvement of the entire school community.
A School Review Panel will exist in each school to further encourage collaboration and involvement from the school community. The Panel will encourage collaboration and involvement from the school community. It will foster constructive collaboration so that the review is responsive to each school’s local context, current performance and improvement opportunities.
‘Schools should increasingly see themselves as being accountable to their own communities to be able to demonstrate what they are doing to improve learning, how this connects to their students' needs, how their plans and actions reflect the use of research and evidence about good practice, and finally what the results are of their work and what they are doing in response to these results.’x
7.2 An overview of Panel membership
The Panel comprises members both internal and external to the schools’ community. Panel membership is organised into three distinct groups with distinct roles and responsibilities as shown below. Its purpose is to actively seek input from all stakeholders forming collective decisions based on evidence and feedback and empowering the school to make ambitious improvements.
Roles and responsibilities of the Panel
Core School Review Panel members:
The following Panel members have decision making powers:
- senior education improvement leader (SEIL)
- school council president
These members add value through expertise and challenge:
- two challenge partners.
School community members:
Community members provide input at designated touchpoints.
- School Improvement Team (SIT)
- other community members
7.3 Core School Review Panel members
The core members of the Panel are the principal, the SEIL, reviewers and school council president. Collectively, the Panel’s core members hold decision-making responsibilities in the review. Each core member makes a distinctive contribution to that collective obligation.
Core Panel members actively participate in Validation Day. The involvement of core Panel members throughout the school review depends on the review methodology adopted on Validation Day. Their involvement also depends on the review’s length. Generally, for reviews longer than two days, only the reviewers will take part in fieldwork days.
The collective decisions they make at the School Review Panel meeting, held on the review’s final day, establishes the reference framework for the next four-year School Strategic Plan.
7.4 Challenge partners
The principal and SEIL jointly select two challenge partners to be on the School Review Panel. They select challenge partners who can contribute the kinds of experience or expertise suited to the school’s current position on its improvement trajectory.
Challenge partners play an important role in the review as, along with the reviewer, they bring a fresh and independent lens to the school’s data and practices.
They add value to review discussions and professionally challenge the school when necessary. Challenge partners participate in school review activities at the same times as core Panel members, but their role focuses on providing input and feedback rather than decision-making.
Selecting challenge partners
Principals and SEILs can consider a range of challenge partners from the government, Catholic or independent school sectors, and from the broader community. Potential challenge partners can include:
- principals from other schools
- representatives from external bodies, including principal associations and unions
- members of relevant community agencies, businesses or other education partners
- regional or central office staff from the Department such as members of regional multidisciplinary teams
- community leaders or specialists from outside the education community
Challenge partners who have completed training provided by the Department are listed in the challenge partner profiles document. Each listing includes the challenge partner’s profile, contact details and specialist expertise.
7.5 School community members
Students, the SIT and community members value-add at specific points during the school review. They do not directly take part in review decision-making.
The purpose of their involvement is to support core Panel members by widening the evidence base on which review decisions are based.
Feedback from school community members is crucial to arriving at a robust consensus about the school’s performance and level of proficiency in all 16 dimensions of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) Continua.
The new school review model celebrates and encourages student voice, agency and leadership. It is essential to the achievement of Education State targets that students are engaged in their learning as partners. By interacting as partners, their self-esteem and self-respect are strengthened. Significantly, collaborating with students during the school review process improves student engagement.
Students possess knowledge and perspectives about their school and their learning which adults cannot replicate. Listening to student experiences, both positive and negative, will impact the overall improvement of the school.
To ensure authentic student contributions to the review, it is important that the students involved in review activities are representative of the broad student body so that different experiences and perspectives are conveyed. Students from a range of age groups, classes, backgrounds, cultures, genders, and abilities should be represented. This should include those students who may have learning or behavioural difficulties, or who are disengaged.
Students typically participate in the review at a number of points including:
- discussions about school performance during which students present their input to the pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE)
- input captured in the PRSE Report
- classroom observations/focus groups conducted on Validation Day, or during fieldwork, which engage student voice through questioning of students
- developing the new School Strategic Plan
Where students are involved, consideration must be given to confidential data and keeping privacy intact.
School Improvement Team (SIT)
The SIT comprises both teaching and support staff who lead and embed a whole school approach to improvement.
The SIT contributes to discussions about school performance, generally focusing on particular aspects of the PRSE Report. They also take part in discussions about observed school practices that the panel wants to interrogate more deeply.
The SIT plays a key role in ensuring that the student voice is embedded into the review process.
School council and community members
Evidence shows that the greatest impact on student outcomes is from the family; consequently, school council members or members of the wider school community are essential change agents. Their involvement in the school review process means engaging the school and community in a shared purpose and promoting an understanding and validation of the change required.
School community members typically provide input through the PRSE Report or through fieldwork focus groups.
‘In the educational context, agency refers to a respectful positioning of students to be active agents in their own learning lives, encompassing both the power of possibility and the personal desire and will to act.’xi
Reviewed 14 June 2020