School operations

School Review

13. Reviewer – roles and responsibilities

Your school review role and responsibilities

The role of the school reviewer involves the provision of an objective, consistent and reliable view of the school’s performance against its School Strategic Plan goals and targets. The reviewer, a core member of the Panel, facilitates the decision-making process and assists schools in constructing new goals and targets. The reviewer brings a diagnostic lens to schools’ performance and practices which informs next steps in the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) Improvement Cycle. The reviewer acts as a ‘mediating layer’, using their training and experience to align school improvement with department initiatives and targets.

The reviewer’s role starts with the examination of the school’s Pre-review Self-evaluation (PRSE) Report, and other data and information provided to them by the school. By exploring the data and evidence, the reviewer prepares a response to the school’s PRSE that they present to the Panel on Validation Day. The reviewer’s response may include a presentation of their insights gleaned from the school’s data and information, questions or ‘wonderings’ associated with achievement outcomes, and the school’s views of any enablers or barriers to achieving successful student outcomes.

The reviewer also ensures that legislative requirements are met by undertaking a check against the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) minimum standards for school registration, including the Child Safe Standards. The reviewer checks school policies and self-assessment documents before the review and then observes how the school’s policies and procedures are operationalised during the fieldwork. This aims to assure the school community that whatever their personal or family circumstances and choice of school, students will have access to a high-quality education. The reviewer’s role is to facilitate the review, ensuring that all panel members are fully engaged in the process and that there are no dominating voices, views or opinions.

They facilitate classroom observations and focus groups and bring the panel together to share their findings. Reviewers are tasked with capturing and synthesising the observations and views of the Panel. They then present the findings back to the school and regional and central offices in the form of a Review Report. This involves the reviewer competently triangulating a range of views, data and evidence to come to clear findings. The reviewer also feeds back information about the review through surveys and direct communication lines.

Listed below are reviewer’s key tasks. For more detail about how these tasks relate to the wider review process and the roles and responsibilities of all participants in the review, refer to section 4 of these guidelines, and other tools and resources listed throughout. You can also download an A3 printable checklist for the review process (DOCX)External Link .

School review participants

Collaboration characterises 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 the model below indicates, the reviewer is a core member of the 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 reviewer training program as communicated through the lead contractor of their company

Pre-review tasks

  • Make initial contact with the principal to commence preparation for the review
  • Ensure they have no conflict of interest with the school’s principal or SEIL
  • Analyse the PRSE Report and other data
  • Prepare a presentation on school data
  • Start the check of minimum standards for school registration documentation (policies and procedures) as a desktop audit
Tools and resources:

Preparation meeting with SEIL and reviewer and planning for review

  • Attend the Preparation Meeting as scheduled by the principal
  • Confirm the key role and responsibilities of the independent reviewer
  • 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 members of the Panel, challenge partners, and potentially school community members)
  • Co-develop questions for classroom observations/focus groups (using resources provided)
  • Meet to discuss the initial findings of the minimum standards for school registration policy check
  • Distribute the agenda and classroom observation schedule to all Panel members
Tools and resources:

Tasks for during the review

Validation Day
  • Facilitate Validation Day (including involving and encouraging contribution from panel members, lead discussions and record discussions/outcomes)
  • Commence minimum standards for school registration implementation observation
  • Present a summary of school data to the Panel (additional analysis, observations)
  • Facilitate the collaborative evaluation of performance against School Strategic Plan goals and targets
  • Test the PRSE ‘focus on evidence’ through classroom observations/focus groups, concentrating on: student voice, leadership and agency curriculum content and teaching practice
  • Facilitate collaborative validation of school’s self-evaluation against the FISO Continua
  • Co-determine and schedule any additional days for the review
  • Facilitate development of terms of reference (ToR) focus questions and methodology for the review
  • Develop – with input from the Panel – supporting documents for fieldwork, such as questions for focus groups
Fieldwork and final Panel meeting
  • Continue to observe how the school’s policies and processes related to the minimum standards for school registration are implemented
  • Undertake fieldwork as defined in methodology
  • If the review team is larger than one reviewer, the lead reviewer coordinates additional reviewers and fieldwork
  • Facilitate the final validation of the school’s rating on the FISO Continua
  • Facilitate feedback from, and report back on fieldwork to, core Panel members
  • Facilitate the collaborative development of goals, targets and key improvement strategies (KIS) for the next School Strategic Plan with core Panel members
  • By the end of the review, complete the minimum standards for school registration check and meet with the principal and SEIL to discuss the findings
  • Meet with the SEIL and principal to discuss the minimum standards for school registration check result and sign-off checklist
Tools and resources:

Post-review tasks

  • Draft the Review Report using the department template and guidelines
  • Integrate feedback from quality assurance if required, and finalise the Report
  • Once report is approved by the SEIL (a workflow email will be received by the review company), distribute the Review Report to principal and SEIL
  • Complete post-review survey via Survey Monkey
  • Transform schools: present the final approved Report to staff and school council, and engage in discussion about the Report
Tools and resources:

Good review practice

Good review practice is demonstrated when the reviewer:

  • understands, plans for, and models their role as a facilitator of the review process
  • ensures the desktop audit of the school’s policies and processes related to the minimum standards for school registration is completed prior to validation day
  • brings an independent, objective and diagnostic lens to the school’s performance, processes and practices
  • deeply engages with the school’s PRSE Report in order to make meaningful contributions in Panel discussions
  • facilitates a rigorous and insightful process that complements the school’s PRSE
  • engages all Panel members in the review process and ensures no voices dominate
  • triangulates a range of views, data and evidence to come to clear findings that will guide and inform the review process
  • facilitates a collaborative validation process, sharing of findings and decision-making
  • facilitates more detailed discussion and analysis about challenges that may be affecting the school’s performance and what factors may be acting as barriers to achievement
  • provides a high-quality School Review Report that reflects the Panel’s findings, and makes ambitious and workable recommendations for the next School Strategic Plan.
Guidance chapter on the role and responsibilities of the school reviewer

Reviewed 20 February 2023

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