Better Schools:
Resource Materials for School Heads in Africa
Making Your School Better
School development planning is a process that seeks to achieve quality by addressing the inputs, processes, outcomes and outputs of the school. Its aim is to create an atmosphere of transparency and accountancy in management that will improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of the school.

Development planning entails a process of continuous evaluation to identify, in the school, strengths that can be built on and weaknesses that need to be remedied. This brings about the changes necessary to enhance quality.
It should be clear to you, as head, that change is a process that cannot be achieved overnight. An important consideration for you to bear in mind is that when you assume the responsibility of heading a school, you will ultimately answer a simple question: What did you do for your school?

What will be your answer?
• You kept it as it was?
• You made it better?
• You ran it down?
Your choice should be obvious.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this unit, you should be able to:
• explain the meaning of and different stages in the school development planning process
• express and translate the school mission statement into an action programme that works according to set targets
• define ways to work with colleagues, parents and pupils
• understand the factors that lead to the creation of a learning environment that is conducive and transparent
• identify and compile indicators of an effective school
• explain barriers to change and suggest relevant remedial action
• identify staff and school development programmes to redress identified areas of weaknesses.

Effective schools
On pages 3-7 of Module 6, Unit 1 the following concepts are defined and discussed: effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and evaluation. This is intended to create, in you, an awareness of the increasing need and demand for effective schools in our societies.

Apart from the contribution made by such inputs as school buildings, textbooks, furniture, qualified teachers and many others, effective schools are also to a very large extent a result of quality assurance processes.

Quality assurance processes
Quality assurance processes are procedures that facilitate a high level of achievement of school goals. They may be initiated either by an external agency or internally by the school itself.

Activity 5.1
(1) Identify one externally initiated qualit y assurance process in a school.
(2) Discuss its advantages and disadvantages as a means of achieving school goals.

In answer to Question 1, you may have identified the inspectorate (see Module 6, Unit 3, page 25) or, 'peer evaluation' -an evaluation system arranged and run by a team of heads, in a cluster of schools.

Externally initiated quality assurance processes have two important advantages as a means of achieving school goals:
• They provide an independent assessment of a school's performance.
• They facilitate the cross-fertilisation of ideas.

However, since they are not initiated within the school:
• They are an expensive means of assessing school performance.
• Evaluations may not be carried out regularly.
• Findings may not be so readily accepted by the school and community.

School development planning
School development planning is one process of quality assurance that is initiated from within the school. It is a continuous school self-evaluation programme geared towards the achievement of school goals and implemented deliberately and collectively by the whole school or sections of the school.

It starts with the formulation of the school mission and objectives. These are derived from national goals and related to community and individual pupil's needs. This is followed by an analysis of the level of achievement of school goals in relation to the whole spectrum of school activities, facilities and personnel. This analysis is called an audit evaluation or stock taking.

Activity 5.2
(1) Identify five major possible areas of school audit.
(2) State five benefits of school audit to staff.

You may have indicated that the major areas of school audit include the following:
• the quality of the curriculum:
(a) teaching and learning
(b) courses/subjects offered
• pupils' progress and attainment
• management of resources including staff, equipment and accommodation
• school ethos and discipline.

The school audit will enable staff to:
• determine how well the school is performing in relation to its goals
• identify strengths on which to build
• identify areas of concern requiring improvement
• identify priorities for subsequent action
• report the school performance to appropriate bodies such as the school board, the local education authority and the Ministry of Education
• provide the education authority with valuable information on which to base its decisions, for example, targeting resources
• answer questions concerning the accountability of the school to interested groups
• detect improvement or lack of it in performance since the previous audit
• contribute to the identification of staff and school development needs.

You have noted that the audit practice establishes the school's level of operation- its strengths and weaknesses. The strengths provide the springboard for continued improvement and development while the weaknesses are prioritised and translated into individual projects with targets for implementation, completion and achievement. This implementation forms the development section of the school development plan.

During, or after, the period of implementation, landmarks are pegged for monitoring progress. This is also called an 'audit'. The process of school development planning is summarised in the following cycle of change.

Activity 5.3
(1) In the boxes in Fig 4 name the stages of the school development cycle.
(2) Discuss at least two merits of school development planning and quality assurance.

You will probably have identified that the school development planning process or cycle is composed of the following stages:
• aims/goals
• audit/ evaluation
• implementation/ development
• audit/ evaluation.

This process has a number of advantages as a school practice because:
• it is locally based and therefore easily lends itself to continuous application
• it is implemented by those who should be conversant with the programme.

Integrating self, staff and school development in school development planning
You may note, on pages 27-28 in Module 6, that for a school self-evaluation programme to be effective, the head and the staff must co-operate and work as a team. This support creates a mutual climate that fosters collaboration, innovation and free expression of ideas. Opinions are thus formed on current educational development needs through rational arguments, reflective practices and researched information. School development planning as a process, aims at exploiting available local resources and expertise which, in turn, integrates self, staff and school development.

Activity 5.4
Identify some aspects of the climate, culture and practice of school development planning which promote the integrated development of the head, staff and the school.

You may have identified some of these aspects:
• working as a team
• a climate of openness (transparency)
• free expression of ideas
• accountability.

Integrated development is particularly enhanced where:
• there is easy access to information on current educational thinking and development
• the use of local resources and expertise is encouraged
• there is a high level of cross-fertilisation of ideas from all sections of the community.

The change cycle and barriers to change
The change process is one aspect of school development planning that heads need to view as vital to self, staff and school development. Module 2, Unit 8 examines, in detail, all the major aspects pertaining to the management of change. These are an integral part of quality assurance in the school development planning process. The crucial points to note here are your role as a change agent and the types of change likely to occur at the school.

Activity 5.5
(1) Describe your role as a change agent
(2) Name the other agents of change in the school development planning process.

It would be useful at this stage to compare your answers with the suggestions given on page 56 of Module 2.

In the first question you may have suggested that as a head your role is to:
• recognise and appreciate the need for change
• give leadership and guidance
• make sure that the relevant stakeholders participate in the decision-making process.

You may have mentioned for the second question:
• individual staff members
• the staff body
• pupils
• parents through PTA
• responsible authorities
• the inspectorate.
School development planning is a flexible process that allows continuous change to take place. Special mention must therefore be made of the types of
change encountered at most schools.
These are:


These are a direct response to performance data, environment pressures or
changes made to goal settings, for example, the introduction of double
sessions in response to student enrolment outstripping school facilities.

These are a response to the continuing flow of data from within the school.

Barriers to change

The changes introduced in your school, whilst both necessary and desirable,
may have varying results and you may encounter barriers in your efforts to
effect them. You need to be aware of these possible barriers, so that you can
anticipate them.

Activity 5.6
(1) Suggest barriers you may meet, as head, in your efforts to bring about change.
(2) How would you minimise these barriers to change in school development planning?

Change may not always succeed if:
• the head's attitude is negative
• there is a lot of suspicion among the team or staff
• adequate resources to effect change do not exist
• there is consumer resistance.
For more information refer to page 60 of Module 2 and page 38 of Module 7.

It is important to realise that the school development plan is a good example of an innovation that allows change to occur all the time. Your ability to cope with this change is critical. Successful change must be based on a sound assessment of the existing situation and on the nature of the proposed change. A mismatch between these assessments will be counter-productive. You can promote acceptance of change, before the implementation of the plan, by creating a healthy atmosphere to change through:
• effective communication
• collaboration
• team building
• delegation
• consultation.
The stages involved in the process of change in school development planning are summarised in Fig 5.

In this unit we have considered the nature of change and have established that school development planning is a part of the quality assurance process which entails systematic change initiated and implemented in the school. It must take place in a conducive atmosphere. You, as head, should be sensitive to the need to create this atmosphere.