Prioritise and set goals

After the evaluate and diagnosis stage, schools prioritise the main areas that require improvement.

Schools should select one or two high-impact improvement initiatives that focus on their specific needs and will enhance their current efforts and achievements.

Schools then set goals aligned to the school's improvement priorities.


Schools will generally prioritise the areas that the evaluation and diagnosis identified as needing improvement by considering their likely impact on student outcomes. Selecting priorities is based upon:

  • collected evidence related to outcomes in the school
  • feedback from its students, parents and carers, and the wider school community
  • strategic opportunities for development.

Set goals

Schools then set goals that are aligned to their priorities. Goals will:

  • suit the specific context and current level of practice
  • be clear about what success or impact looks like
  • establish indicators to measure improvement
  • specify improvement measures, and typically refer to both measures of professional practice and their expected effect on student outcomes.

School strategic planning

School strategic planning is the process of reflecting on past performance, establishing future vision and directions and deciding strategic goals for the next four years. It involves and engages the school community considering these questions:

  • Where have we been and where are we now?
  • What is the impact of our past efforts?
  • What is the data telling us?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • how will we get there?
  • how will we know if we have been successful?

A school strategic plan (SSP) is a one-page, high level, school-based plan that:

  • is based on data and evidence
  • outlines the school’s vision, goals and targets, and the key improvement strategies that will help it achieve those goals and targets
  • focuses on one or two evidence-based Improvement Initiatives known to have an impact on student outcomes
  • is sensitive to local needs.

The SSP is informed by the school’s self-evaluation and the school review’s key findings.

Learn more about school strategic planning on the Department's intranet
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Critical decision point: strategic resource management

Resources are enablers to communicate what is important for a school to parents, carers, teachers and students. By communicating with informed transparency around budgets, school leaders foster confidence in their improvement vision, enable innovation and flexibility and shape a learning culture.

Developing a theory of change is an effective method for prioritisation within resource constraints, and to communicate what is important.

For school leaders

In collaboration with your school improvement team, consider and reflect on the following questions for implementation and how resourcing can be used to drive learning, communicate vision and enable innovation.

Responses to these questions could help form a theory of change for a tailored package of implementation strategies.

  1. What is the problem being addressed?
  2. What good evidence supports the prioritisation of this problem?
  3. What are the approaches you want to implement to address this problem?
  4. How will this impact on students’ learning growth?
  5. What resources are required in the short, medium and long-term to ensure effective and sustainable implementation?
  6. To what extent is your school ready to deliver this implementation?
  7. What other things can we stop doing to create resources for this implementation?
  8. To what extent do you have sufficient and appropriate workforce capacity and capability to implement?
  9. How will you collect, analyse and share data during implementation?
  10. How will the school improvement team monitor implementation and evaluate the effectiveness, appropriateness and outcomes of the implementation?
  11. How will professional learning support teachers and school leaders to implement, innovate and sustain?

Downloadable resources

Theory of change template (docx - 68.2kb)