Essential elements for school improvement

The Continua of Practice for school improvement assist principals and teachers to identify areas of practice that require attention in order to deliver improved student outcomes.​

The Continua incorporates eight essential elements of the framework for improving student outcomes:

1. D​​ocumented curriculum plan, assessment and shared pedagogical approaches

The school’s documented curriculum plan is informed by strategic and annual implementation planning. It is regularly reviewed and updated by teams of teachers.

The school allocates time and resources for teachers to share pedagogical content knowledge about the curriculum, the implementation and monitoring of effective learning programs, and the planning of content-specific instruction. The assessment plan includes formative and summative assessment.

2. School-based professional learning program developed and implemented that supports the school’s identified improvement strategies

The school’s professional learning program is clearly aligned to the school’s identified improvement strategies, informed by collective discussions with school staff.  

The program prioritises and targets opportunities that meet both the school’s priorities and each individual staff member’s identified learning needs.  The program is reviewed, updated and evaluated at regular intervals. 

3. School improvement team formed to develop, oversee and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the annual implementation plan: for improving student outcomes

The school improvement team has a documented purpose and terms of reference and is effectively integrated within the leadership structure of the school. Team members have a shared understanding of the role of the team in supporting improvement across the school.

The team has a good understanding of the AIP, including the specific goals, targets and improvement strategies that are the focus for the year.

The team has begun to identify specific strategies for how progress will be measured and reported throughout the year.

4. Student voice, leadership and agency in own learning activated so students have positive school experiences and can act as partners in school improvement

Schools build a culture where teachers and students work together and student voice is heard and respected. When this occurs it contributes to students building their confidence and self-efficacy.

Teachers and school leaders receive valuable feedback that can lead to improved teaching practice and contribute to school improvement. Students feel more positive and connected to their school, see themselves as learners and better understand their learning growth.

Students have access to a range of structured leadership roles in the school that provide students with opportunities to develop a range of skills, including communication and decision making.

5. Whole school approach to health, wellbeing, inclusion and engagement

Staff have consistent understandings and regular engagement with the school’s health, wellbeing, inclusion and engagement programs and policies.  These programs and policies are reviewed and updated periodically.

The school draws on professional support to meet individual student wellbeing needs, as appropriate.  Teachers reflect on their practice and proactively identify opportunities for increasing student engagement, including through collaboration with their colleagues.

6. Moderation of common student assessment tasks

Moderation of student assessment occurs regularly and explores a range of assessment data sets.  This analysis is used explicitly to inform curriculum development and teacher practice, and is used as the basis for regular feedback and reporting to students and their parents and carers.  

7. Data collection, analysis and evaluation of student learning growth over time

There is effective, focused and shared leadership that ensures the school has documented and agreed data collection, analysis and evaluation approaches across year levels and learning areas.

It draws on a range of standardised and customised assessment tools to produce a database of student learning progress over time.

Students’ learning growth is regularly measured and informs curriculum planning and goal setting for individual students. Teachers use formative assessment to identify gaps in students’ learning, and to monitor the progress of each student.

8. Explicit use of evidence-based school improvement strategies and teacher professional practice activities

Teachers have an understanding of contemporary research into school improvement and effective teacher practice. 

They understand the evidence behind specific improvement strategies in place in the school, and the supporting evidence behind elements of their professional practice. 

There are opportunities for teachers to bring their own research and evidence to inform staff discussions about improvement and to support consistency of practice across the school. 

The school improvement team collaboratively develops the school’s annual implementation plan and monitors the implementation of identified improvement strategies.   

To self-assess and diagnose areas of practice that require improvement, see: FISO Continua of Practice