8 The Preparation Meeting

8.1 Planning for an effective school review

The Preparation Meeting is a designated step in the new school review process. It is singled out in this way because it produces high stakes outcomes that ensure a productive review process.

The Preparation Meeting isolates time for the principal, reviewer and the senior education improvement leader (SEIL) to:

  • plan how they will structure the validation day to unpack learnings from the school’s pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE)
  • reach deeply into classrooms to elicit information about teaching and learning across the school

The Preparation Meeting provides an opportunity to identify the most relevant information for panel members to conduct validation day. The Preparation Meeting process ensures the panel can pay close attention to how the school engages students and supports student achievement.

The Preparation Meeting is significant because it acknowledges and values contributions to the PRSE process and PRSE Report made by the school community. The Preparation Meeting carefully considers how to amplify the impact of their contributions during the review.

Key outputs and outcomes from the preparation meeting are:

  • a shared understanding of the roles of principal, reviewer and SEIL in the review
  • an agenda and methodology for Validation Day, including a schedule for the classroom observations

The Preparation Meeting is held at the school at least two weeks before Validation Day.

  • Principal

    • Communicate with the school community about the upcoming review through avenues such as the school newsletter, assemblies and staff meetings.
    • Provide the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) minimum standards for school registration documentation to the reviewer electronically (for example, through a zip file from the Strategic Planning Online Tool (SPOT)) at least four weeks before the review.
    • Send the PRSE Report and supporting evidence to the other members of the Review Panel at least four weeks before the review (from Term 2, the PRSE Report and supporting evidence will be accessed using the SPOT).


    • Endorse the PRSE Report.

    Principal and SEIL

    • Collaborate to select challenge partners.

    Reviewer, principal and SEIL

    • Book tentative dates for known number of review days. A base number will be known before Validation Day. Up to three additional days could be allocated on Validation Day if Panel members determine this is necessary.


    • Start a desktop audit of school’s VRQA minimum standards for school registration documentation.
  • Principal, SEIL and reviewer

    • Discuss roles and responsibilities.
    • Co-develop a Validation Day agenda based on the example agenda.
    • Co-develop a schedule for validation day classroom observations/focus groups ensuring the schedule represents a broad cross-section of the school.
  • Principal

    • Organise logistical arrangements for Validation Day, including meeting rooms and catering.
    • Ensure timetabling allows time out of the classroom for participants, including for the School Improvement Team (SIT) and students who will contribute to focus groups. Communicate to teachers the purpose and arrangements for classroom observations.

    School Review Panel

    • Familiarise themselves with the PRSE Report and any other school data and evidence provided.
    • Begin to record questions, wonderings, highlights prompted by the information provided.

Information about current student outcomes and prevailing school practices must be collected systematically and reliably. It is not possible to draw meaningful conclusions about improvements in outcomes or practices if this initial information is unreliable.

'Data needs to be collected objectively and dispassionately and reflect the realities of the school’s current performance – not somebody’s intentions or beliefs about what is happening in the school.’xii

8.2 Developing the Validation Day agenda

The example Validation Day agenda below indicates how time may be allocated to ensure all aspects are covered in sufficient depth. Principals, SEILs and reviewers are encouraged to tailor the agenda to the school’s needs by including specifying when and how students, school community members and the SIT will be engaged.

Validation Day agenda

Time Activity Lead In attendance
8:30 Welcome
  • Welcome the School Review Panel
  • Facilitate introductions
Principal School Review Panel – core members and challenge partners
8:35 Purpose of review
  • Outline the review’s purpose
  • Discuss roles and responsibilities
Reviewer School Review Panel – core members and challenge partners
8:45 Explore performance against previous School Strategic Plan
  • Students present on their experience of/relationship with the PRSE
  • Reviewer facilitation: – performance against school strategic plan goals and targets
    • enablers and barriers to success
    • key achievements and challenges
Reviewer School Review Panel – core members challenge partners SIT and students (for relevant sections)
10:15 Parameters of classroom observations/focus groups:
  • Introduce resources (checklists/questions)
  • Use resources (checklists/questions) to determine parameters for classroom observations/focus groups:
    • what is being observed and why?
    • what questions will be asked?
    • who will be observing/leading what?
Reviewer School Review Panel – core members and challenge partners
10:30 Morning tea
10:45 Classroom observations and student focus groups
  • According to methodology developed in the preparation meeting
  • Core members of the School Review Panel likely to each lead a classroom observation/focus group
Core School Review Panel members and challenge partners School Review Panel – core members and challenge partners *Students likely to be involved as part of a focus group
11:45 Report back
  • Share and discuss observations and findings from classroom observations and focus groups
Reviewer School Review Panel – core members and challenge partners
12:30 Lunch
1:00 Continua and additional review days
  • Validate school’s proficiency status against FISO Continua for School Improvement for the six High-impact Initiatives
  • Determine any additional fieldwork days for review based on validation
  • Ensure there is a rationale for why additional fieldwork days will or will not be required
Core School Review Panel members School Review Panel – core members and challenge partners
2:30 Terms of reference for the review

Develop terms of reference focus questions and methodology

Reviewer School Review Panel – core members and challenge partners
4:30 Close

8.3 Meeting minimum standards for school registration

TheEducation and Training Reform Act 2006External Link establishes the principles on which school education in Victoria is based. The VRQA was established under the Act.

The VRQA is responsible, among other things, for registering all schools that operate in Victoria and for ensuring that registered schools meet the standards required for registration. The standards required for school registration and for maintaining school registrationExternal Link are published by the VRQA. Before the Preparation Meeting, the principal provides the VRQA minimum standards for school registration documentation (self-assessment checklist in the PRSE Report and school policies) to the reviewer electronically.

The school reviewer begins assessing the school’s compliance with minimum standards by examining the school’s evidence of registration requirements.

During all review phases, the reviewer observes the school’s policies and practices to assess its compliance with the minimum standards, both on paper and in action.

The assessment culminates on the final day of the review with a meeting involving the reviewer, principal and SEIL. The meeting discusses the reviewer’s final assessment and the reviewer reports on any areas where the school is considered non-compliant, initiating follow-up and support through the Department's Government Schools Regulation Project team, Schools and Regional Services.

Guidance chapter explaining the purpose and required actions for the school review preparation meeting

Reviewed 12 June 2020

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