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NIF Planning and Reporting: What you need to know

It is expected that the Statutory Guidance on the planning and reporting arrangements flowing from the new National Improvement Framework will be released in March.  

Members up and down the country will be involved in developing their School Improvement Plan for the coming year.  This is an important time in the school calendar and we thought it was very important that we note this impending guidance as it has implications for local authority and school level planning and reporting.

At the turn of each year the Scottish Government will produce an upadated National Improvement Plan.  This will inform both local authority and school level planning.

Local Authorities will have to write and publish two reports a year under the guidance.  The first is an ‘Annual Plan’ which will describe the steps the authority plans to take in the coming year: to seek to deliver the priorities in the Government’s National Improvement Framework (which the Government will update each year but which will for the foreseeable future be focussed on tackling the poverty/low-achievement link); to engage with a wide range of specified groups to develop that plan; and, will set out the educational benefits expected through delivery of their plan.  The second report is an annual report of action taken in pursuance of that plan and impact seen.   

Of particular interest to Head Teachers, the guidance will say that School Development Plans will be replaced by School Improvement Plans and that they must be based on consultation with key groups (pupils, any parent council, teachers, volunteers and local bodies representing teachers and parents of pupils in the school), must take account of the Local Authority’s ‘Annual Plan’ and ‘Strategy for Parental Involvement’, set out how the school will seek to reduce the inequalities of outcome for its pupil group.  Schools will also be expected to take account of any change to the National Improvement Plan – which may note be reflected in local authority plans.

Schools must also prepare a SIP report twelve months later to detail the activity in relation to the plan and the impact that it has had.

The timeline
This seems quite complex so here is the simple version (for a fuller explanation you will need to read the Annex to the guidance).  There are three separate but related planning and reporting levels: Scottish Government, Local Authority and School.  Here is the timeline:
December 2016 – The Scottish Government produced the first statutory NIF.
Early 2017 – Schools Development Planning processes need to take account of the priorities in the NIF.
August 2017 – The first Education Authority ‘Annual Plans’ to be published.
Around December 2017 – The Scottish Government will report on progress and produce an updated NIF.
Early 2018 – The first School Improvement plans which relate directly to LEA Annual Plans and the strategic priorities set out in the prevailing NIF.
August 2018 – The first Education Authority reports to be published (as well as their 2nd plans)
Around December 2018 – The Scottish Government will report on progress and produce an updated NIF.

It is likely that your local authority will produce local guidance as to the timing and mechanisms for development of these plans and reports.

Content of School Improvement Plans
The guidance will provide challenge questions to consider when preparing a SIP.  These will include:
-    Using the features of highly effective practice and the challenge questions within HGIOS4, what overarching conclusions can be drawn about your school’s strengths and areas for development?
-    How well placed are you to deliver the strategic priorities of the NIF?
-    What evidence can I draw on to support us in identifying the most appropriate interventions for our learners and staff in the coming year?
-    How well do we support parents to become actively involved in their child’s learning and progression?

Thank you
Finally, a big thank you to those of you who took the time to make sense of and respond to the consultation on the draft statutory guidance.  AHDS has been involved in a Scottish Government group working on the guidance.  It is markedly more readable than the early drafts (though it still takes a bit of work!)