School operations

School Review

11. Principal – roles and responsibilities

Your school review role and responsibilities

As school leader, the principal drives the review and school improvement process. The principal has a deep understanding of the school’s demographics, climate and culture of teaching and learning. That awareness, underpinned with a clear moral imperative, is pivotal to the school’s conduct of a comprehensive self-evaluation that acknowledges areas of success and challenge. In their position of leadership, the principal is the key agent of change who empowers staff, students, and the broader school community to achieve school excellence.

The principal’s list of key responsibilities is outlined on this page. Refer to section 4 of these guidelines for more details about:

  1. How these tasks relate to the broader review process
  2. The roles and responsibilities of all participants
  3. Other tools and resources

You can download an A3 printable school review process checklist (DOCX)External Link (staff login required).

School review participants

Collaboration characterises the school review. Every participant has a distinctive role and significant responsibilities to fulfil.

A constructive and transparent school review welcomes ideas from all school community members, listens to and reflects on varying opinions, and relies on inclusive engagement and accountability.

Section 4 of these guidelines provides an overview of the roles and responsibilities for all School Review Panel members.

As below indicates, the principal is a core member of the School Review Panel.

Core School Review Panel members

The following Panel members have decision making powers:

  • principal
  • senior education improvement leader (SEIL)
  • reviewers
  • school council president.

These guideline sections detail the roles and responsibilities of the Panel.


Professional learning tasks

  • Attend the school review professional learning program for principals and SEILs along with their SEIL. Dates are provided to the school through a direct email communication and updated on the school review intranet site
  • Consider attending the professional learning on data literacy, in preparation for pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE) and review process. These programs are repeated each term, with dates updated on the school review intranet site

Pre-review tasks

  • Establish professional development plan (PDP) goals, actions and measures around school review, for inclusion in the PDP
  • Establish a School Improvement Team if one is not in place and capture these roles and responsibilities as part of the PDP process. For example, identifying a staff member to coordinate the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) minimum standards for school registration documents
  • Develop a communication plan to ensure staff and the school community are well informed of the PRSE, the review process and the action plan for community involvement
Tools and resources

Pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE)

The following tasks are completed in the term before your review:

  • Lead the school’s PRSE in consultation with school community, with support from the SEIL and other regional staff as required
  • Involve the school community in the PRSE and school review, and keep them informed of progress
  • Complete the PRSE Report in the SPOT for SEIL and school council endorsement
  • Collaborate with the SEIL to select 2 challenge partners
  • Establish the School Review Panel – core members, challenge partners and school community members
  • Inform all Panel members of their roles and responsibilities in the review process
  • Provide all VRQA minimum standards check documentation to the reviewer electronically at least 4 weeks before validation day
  • Provide the PRSE Report and other school performance data to core Panel members and challenge partners at least four weeks before Validation Day
  • Organise the Preparation Meeting with the reviewer and the SEIL
  • With the SEIL and the reviewer, schedule suitable dates for the base number of review days
Tools and resources

Preparation meeting with the SEIL and the reviewer, and planning for review

  • Confirm challenge partners and discuss at which stages other Panel members will take part in the review – for example, students, school community, SIT
  • Co-develop the agenda for Validation Day
  • Co-develop a schedule for classroom observations/focus groups to be undertaken on Validation Day (engaging all core Panel members, challenge partners, and potentially school community members)
  • Coordinate logistical arrangements for Validation Day, including meeting rooms, catering, timetabling for classroom observations/focus groups, and timetabling time out of classroom to enable participation by students, SIT, and other school community members
Tools and resources

Tasks for during the review

Validation day
  • Chair Validation Day (including welcomes, introductions, timekeeping)
  • Actively take part as a core Panel member
  • Take part in discussion of the school’s PRSE findings
  • Engage in collaborative evaluation of the school’s performance against School Strategic Plan goals and targets
  • Take part in classroom observations focusing on the instructional core of: student voice, agency and leadership, curriculum content and teaching practice, and share observations with core Panel members and challenge partners
  • Take part in collective assessment of the school’s proficiency levels on the FISO Continua, focusing on the six High-impact Initiatives, recording this in SPOT
  • Co-determine any additional days for review, and schedule the days, recording the number of additional days in SPOT
  • Contribute to developing terms of reference (ToR) focus questions and methodology to guide following review days, recording this information in SPOT
  • Make required logistical arrangements as soon as any additional review days are scheduled
Fieldwork and final Panel meeting
  • Take part in in fieldwork as determined in the review methodology – at times it may not be appropriate for the principal to participate in some fieldwork activities (for example, focus groups)
  • Take part in the Panel meeting and contribute to the final collective assessment of the school’s proficiency levels against the Continua
  • Contribute to collaborative development of goals, targets and key improvement strategies (KIS) for the next School Strategic Plan, for endorsement by the panel
  • Meet with reviewer and SEIL to discuss findings from the VRQA minimum standards check
Tools and resources

Post-review tasks

  • Collaborate with the SEIL to quality-assure the Review Report, using the quality assurance checklist for SEILs
  • Complete the post-review survey via Survey Monkey
  • Transform schools: chair staff meeting at which Review Report is presented by reviewer
  • Recharge, renew, influence, stretch and not grouped schools: present the findings of the Review Report to school staff and the school council, with support from the SEIL
  • Prepare the school’s four-year School Strategic Plan in collaboration with the school community, and record this in SPOT for endorsement by the SEIL and school council
  • Discuss with SEIL and school council any changes proposed for the School Strategic Plan where they differ from key directions agreed on by the Panel
Tools and resources

Good review practice

Good review practice is demonstrated when the principal:

  • brings moral leadership to the role. This is evident through their actions, affirming their personal integrity, transparency, and a genuine commitment to a rigorous review process
  • ensures the school and its community members feel they are at the heart of school improvement
  • promotes the view that a rigorous PRSE conducted by the school can lead to sustainable school improvement
  • ensures the PRSE methodology supports the whole school community to contribute to a reflective dialogue that serves two primary functions:
    • a shared understanding of how well the school performed over the course of the School Strategic Plan
    • to arrive at a shared understanding of where the school is placed on the FISO Continua of Practice for School Improvement
  • attends professional learning and becomes familiar with the available tools and resources prior to commencing the review
  • supports all review participants to work cooperatively and collaboratively, and to feel empowered by their efforts
  • builds relational trust by genuinely listening to panel members, taking all views into account
  • shares their understanding of the school’s demographics, culture, unique strengths, and identified challenges and barriers to achievement
  • leads the school and its community in its PRSE, ensuring objectivity, transparency and broad engagement underpin the process.
Guidance chapter on the role and responsibilities of the principal in the school review

Reviewed 21 February 2023

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