As a parent member of the School Council, I recently had the privilege of being part of the school’s strategic review - an intensive and detailed process which occurs in every Victorian state school on a four-year cycle and one that all parents should be aware of.
The intent of the review process is to evaluate the school’s performance against its previous strategic plan and to use the results to inform the development of the school’s next strategic plan along with the improvement goals for the next four years.
In addition to looking at the previous strategic plan, the review also assesses the school’s performance against the Department of Education and Training (DET) framework for improvement of student outcomes with its four priority areas of Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Professional Leadership, Positive Climate and Community Engagement in Learning.
Throughout the review, the school had the support of a School Review Panel. The MGSC panel was extensive and included an independent accredited reviewer, a Senior Education Improvement Leader (SEIL) from the DET, the principal, assistant principals and school leaders, two principals from other Victorian high schools and school community members, including students, parents and the School Improvement Team. This collaborative approach allowed for a deeper analysis of data and performance, with no stone or opinion left unturned!
The MGSC review included evaluation of a wealth of data including:
- NAPLAN and VCE results, benchmarked against other similar schools (those with similar demographics)
- School performance reports
- Parent Opinion Surveys
- Student Attitudes to School Surveys
- Staff Opinion Surveys
- Staff feedback on student voice and agency, student leadership, curriculum content, teaching practice and strategic plan goals.
During the review, the panel heard opinions from both parent and student focus groups and undertook observations in classrooms to get a first hand look at teaching practice and student engagement.
The outcomes of the review and the new direction for the school will be shared once finalised over the next few months. However, there were a few takeaways I wanted to highlight:
1. MGSC’s existing performance data is impressive, which was endorsed by the external members of the panel. Whilst there are always areas for improvement, the next strategic plan will definitely be making an already good school, better.
2. The students, from across all year levels, who participated in the review were extremely good ambassadors for the school. They were open, honest and articulate and expressed opinions in a constructive manner. They also enjoyed the experience, reflecting that the use and outcomes from data that is collected from students (opinion surveys etc) should be discussed more openly to encourage proper participation.
3. There was minimal parent engagement with the review, with only myself and one other parent in the parent forum. This is despite requests for parents to join the parent panel through newsletters and on Compass. The review really is a chance to shape the future of school and I strongly encourage all parents to make the most of every feedback opportunity moving forwards.
4. Linda Brown and her team are certainly working hard to ensure the best for our girls! Exciting times ahead!