Strategic planning involves the process into which a school looks at all the aspects of their planning and how they would wish the school to be in future. Generally, it gives the wider picture of where the school is at the moment, where they are aiming to be in the future and plans on how they are going to accomplish their future objectives.

Why it is important to strategically plan for your school

Strategic Planning in Schools provides numerous benefits that help in improving performance. In addition, strategic planning also helps in realizing matters that affect your school performance and how to settle on the priorities for execution. Therefore, it is important that all schools come up with a strategic plan to help the key stakeholders, including the community, staff, students and parents know where the school is heading. It allows the school community to build commitment, try to achieve the same goals and join hands towards the same vision.

Strategic planning plays a big role in providing the right direction so that all members can have a good understanding of the school’s strategies that were agreed upon and help them have a clear vision of what the school is aiming to achieve. It helps in ensuring the staff focus on specific tasks assigned to them by the school. Since decisions are made on the basis of whether or not they fit the school’s goals and vision, strategic planning helps in reducing the number of decisions school management has to make.

In response to the changing environment, the mode in which strategic planning in Australian schools is carried out has evolved to be a cycle of strategic activities from a simple, one-year operational plan. This has contributed to promoting longer-term planning for schools in Australia, thus it explains why it is important to strategically plan for your school. On the other hand, strategic planning helps in effectively turning the school’s activities into an evolving process that encourages easy management of their strategic development over a given period. It would also be advisable that schools participate in three levels or types of planning their activities. The three levels include:

Long term: This refers to the idea of providing the futures perspective after identifying longer-term fundamental shifts in the education sector.

Medium-term: This refers to the mechanism in which strategic intent for the less-predictable sector of medium-term planning is created using a strategic analysis.

Short-term: This refers to the creation of operational school development plans that takes approximately two-year planning.

Strategic planning can be used as a management tool to determine the school’s timelines, roles and responsibilities, objectives, goals, values mission, etc. Apart from assisting as a management tool, strategic planning also plays a big role in making Australian schools perform better by focusing their energy on serious strategies. In addition, strategic planning also helps in assessing and adjusting the school’s direction in regards to a new environment and also ensuring that the school members are contributing their efforts towards the same goals.

The strategic planning process

The planning process usually involves some key steps that encourage schools to re-examine the strategies and directions that the stakeholders came up with for practical results and contemporary relevance. All in all, the strategic planning process requires passion and the right drive. This helps to ensure continued determination and commitment to execute the whole process through opposition, challenges and certain difficulties. In other words, the whole process needs someone who is ready to take up the position as the coordinator who can be counted on for keeping the process moving against various timelines. Therefore, it is important to note that commitment and good leadership are the key requirements for schools to attain positive outcome.

The strategic planning process should be carried out in an orderly and effective manner to ensure that the most important things are put into consideration and included in the strategic plan.

These include:

1.      Environmental scan

Before beginning the strategic planning process, it is important that the school reviews their current economic, social and political environment. At this stage, they should be able to identify the opportunities, challenges, and needs. They should also run an analysis that helps to identify the school’s current threats, opportunities, weaknesses and strengths.

2.      The mission statement

The School’s mission statement explains why the school exists hence it should be reviewed during the strategic planning process. At this point, you should be able to put the guiding principles into pen and paper since this will help provide inspiration and guidance to the school Board and staff.

3.      The School Goals and Objectives

As a school, you should choose your specific priorities on the basis of mission statement. You should be able to identify the things that your school needs to accomplish in order to achieve the set goals.

4.      Changes in transport routes

Sometimes it turns out very important for some schools to change their daily routines like making changes to their transport routes. Therefore, it is upon the school management to decide whether it is necessary to change their transport routes or not. However, this depends on the challenges and dangers that the school might face in case they don’t change their transport routes.

5.      Action Plans

These are the activities or strategies that the school has prioritized and chosen to assist them in achieving their objectives. Action planning also involves a number of various activities that comply with each goal, specifying who needs to do what and by what time it should be accomplished.

6.      Evaluation

This includes evaluating the school’s objectives and its outcome by using the most relevant methods that entails documenting how the school will know who has done what, to whom and when.

7.      Budgets

In most cases, budgets are usually included in the school’s annual plan. They give details and specifications on the amount required to execute the strategic plan. In addition, budgets also play a big role in specifying and describing the main expenditure items, including school materials, equipment and relevant resources.

In conclusion, it is right to say that the strategic planning process is crucial in assisting schools to put into test the old plans in regards to the future plans and the environment that the school is aiming to operate around in the future. The whole process involves embracing accountability and building commitment through engaging key stakeholders in evaluating strategies to change the school’s condition for better performance.

About the Author

PhD in European Languages and Cultures (specialising in Literary Translation) Department of International Studies Macquarie University