Step 1: Planning and preparing for self-review
Step 1: Key points about planning and preparing for self-review
- Lead collaboratively and by example
- Make sure the foundations for change are in place (Are we ready?)
- Assemble a self-review team of key school leaders and community members to start planning
- Raise awareness about the need for change
- Explore what inclusion means and start to develop a shared vision for the future
- Develop a plan for how you will collect data over time
- Register to use the tools
Information for Step 1
Step 1 is about getting started with the self-review process. During Step 1, schools assemble a self-review team and put in place the foundations needed for change.
Leading and championing change
Effective leadership of new approaches is vital. The principal and other school leaders need to actively lead or show support for the self-review process. In a self-review process, members of the school community need to feel their voices will be heard. A foundation of trust is important. Consider:
- Do we have a shared view of what inclusion means at our school?
- Do staff and students feel comfortable sharing their views?
- Are there mechanisms in place for staff, students, parents, caregivers and whānau to make suggestions for improving school practices?
- Are the concerns of staff, students, parents and whānau taken seriously and acted upon?
The self-review process is designed to be self-managed by a school. However some schools may want or require external support or facilitation for the self-review process. Depending on your school’s needs, staff from special education may be available to support you.
Contact your local RTLB or you may want to contact local education providers who offer facilitation services. Your school may also want to work with a critical friend who can give you feedback and support in an ongoing way. You could approach a member of the senior leadership team from a local school to take on this role, or work as a cluster with local schools. Your school may also want to work with a school ambassador or champion who supports the self-review process. Well-known people from your local community could take on this role.
Assembling a school review team
The process which schools use to complete the Inclusive Practices tools is as important as the content. The review process aims to encourage dialogue between different people. Therefore, it is important that the self-review process is led by a team and not an individual. This enables different perspectives to be heard and builds ownership by enabling a wider range of people to contribute to the decision-making process. Another reason for using a team is that this supports longer-term sustainability. If activities are managed by a team they are less likely to lose momentum if key people leave.
Ideally the review team should include representatives from all relevant groups. If your review is focused on the extent to which your school includes students with special education needs, the review team could include:
- The principal and at least one other member of the leadership team
- A representative from the Board of Trustees
- Maori and Pacific representation or a representative from any particular group of students at your school (e.g., refugee students)
- The learning support or special needs coordinator (SENCO)
- One or two teachers who have students with special education needs in their class or homeroom
- One or two teacher aides
- One or two parents, whānau or caregivers who support children with special education needs
- One or two older students who have special education needs
- Representatives from the specialist teams who work closely with your school to provide support to students and teachers (e.g., RTLB, Resource teachers of vision and the deaf)
The review team could also include support and administration staff and other community members. It is important that all review team members are volunteers and feel comfortable about their involvement. As a group, you will need to decide on team roles such as who will facilitate and lead meetings, who will be responsible for managing data, and who will report to different groups of stakeholders.
Raising awareness about the need for change
One of the first steps in a self-review process is to raise awareness of concerns or issues. This is one of the first actions the self-review team could plan. Holding community events is a common form of awareness raising. These could take the form of:
- Student assemblies
- Professional learning sessions for staff
- Staff meetings
- Parent, whānau or caregiver information and consultation sessions
At these meetings the focus of the self-review could be announced, and the consultation process started, as you start to create a shared vision. It is also important to keep parents and whānau informed of plans. Use a range of strategies such as updates in school newsletters.
Change is more likely to occur when the whole school community shares a vision about what it wants to achieve and acts in ways that are consistent with that vision. Therefore one focus of these initial awareness raising sessions could be on brainstorming ideas about the big picture or vision for the future, e.g.:
- What sort of school do we want?
- How do we want new students and family to feel about our school?
- How will we show this?
- Do we include everyone in all aspects of school life?
Consulting widely with parents and whānau
It is vital to use a range of different avenues for consulting with parents and whānau. Each school has ways of consulting that are appropriate and effective. We suggest your school uses a range of approaches such as:
- using the Community Survey
- inviting a range of parent and whānau representatives to be on the school review team
- holding discussion groups about the review focus at a time when many parents and whānau are likely to be at school such as during student learning or reporting conferences
- holding consultation hui about the review focus at local marae, fono at local churches or community centres, or meetings at the home of parents and whānau
If surveys are not effective ways of collecting information at your school, these consultations could use some of the items from the Community Survey as a starting point to focus on parent and whānau views about whether the extent to which the school includes their child and supports them to learn, and how school processes and practices could be improved.
Hearing from students
As well as using the IPT Student Survey you may also wish to hold discussion groups with students or student leaders to hear their views about school life, and what could be improved. You may want to involve any groups of students whose views you particularly want to hear. There are a range of other ways you can consult with students, e.g., feedback from each class can be collected.
Planning for the longer term
Managing change in a school is an ongoing process and it can take time to implement new approaches. It also takes time for any related changes to be clearly visible in survey data (often about 3-5 years). Therefore it is important to have this in mind when you start a school review process. It is also important to clearly communicate the purposes for which you are collecting data and the likely timeframes to all the people who are involved.
What next? Gathering data for a needs assessment
Once your school has started the self-review process, the next step is gathering data for a needs analysis. The aim of a needs analysis is to give you an overall picture of school life and evidenced-based data about practices that could be strengthened (next steps). The Inclusive Practices tools can be used to collect data to contribute to this needs analysis. To use the Inclusive Practices tools your school needs to register and then administer them from your Survey admin area.