Writing and using a Primary School Improvement Plan (3)

Having decided to split the School Improvement Plan into 2 main sections we are today going to look at the section regarding the Curriculum.

I was in a school the other day and as I like to do, was looking at the documentation on the staff room notice board. One piece that caught my eye was the document referring to subject coordinators who now, apparently were to be called subject leaders  – not that a change of name means anything!

However the reason given for the change was this: – it was thought that coordinators tended to regard the job too lightly – thinking that once the resources had been purchased and a couple of staff meetings held then their job was done! In changing the name to leaders it was “Imagined” that colleagues would now have a “completely different approach to their role with previously unseen enthusiasm!” (my words!).


The problem in this school is that there is no provision for curriculum subjects in their SIP. Yes the school decides what and which areas of the curriculum are the focus for the year – but what about everything else?

To be absolutely honest if my subject wasn’t in focus for the year I wouldn’t be doing much about it either!

All curriculum subjects MUST be doing something – they cannot stagnate with nothing happening!

This is exactly why the school SIP must address the whole curriculum in its 3 year focus.

How can this be set out?

This section of the SIP is written for 1 year as with the Management section – however there is a staged progression for the subjects across every term of the 3 years – resulting in 9 stages outlined for every subject to undertake.

The 9 termly stages for curriculum areas can be set out as below – however as I have previously said these can changed to suit your schools needs and are just here as an example to guide your thoughts.

  1. Coordinator / Leader INSET training
  2. Resource audit and purchase
  3. Liaison  with Colleagues and advisors inc Staff training
  4. Subject Policy writing
  5. Policy and revised subject implementation inc staff training.
  6. As above –
  7. Low level monitoring of subject in action
  8. As above
  9. As above.

And can be set out on a grid formation as below

For an initial starting point subjects are placed anywhere on the grid according to the urgency and situation they are judged to be in.  So for example the new curriculum area of maths may initially be placed in the “Coordinator INSET ” term whereas History / Geog may be placed in  monitoring in order that the coordinator can have some time looking at what’s currently happening before taking the INSET (avoid having 2 major core subjects in the same area at the same time – however 2 subjects either  both foundation or Core / foundation would be fine)

As a SLT you need to judge where you think each curriculum subject is best placed as a starting point and have an overview of progression and the mix of core and foundation subjects (Early years / foundation  should be taken as an additional area). Should any major changes need to be made then as an SLT don’t hesitate to shift a curriculum area as needed!

If in the above example Maths was in Coordinator / leader INSET for the Autumn term then in the Spring term then the subject progresses to resource audit and purchase before moving into Liaison  with Advisors and Colleagues for the Summer term.

As you can now see – every subject is doing something throughout the 3 years of the SIP and documented on the grid format we described earlier.

So for example – in the event of OFSTED arriving.

For a school who only outlines 2 or 3 areas of focus – how do they answer or provide evidence for other areas. Lets say the areas focussed revolve around Maths, Science and Computing – what if the inspectors want to know about progression in History?

For the school incorporating this broad approach then every subject is engaged at some point in the progression and can report back.

Here’s a bit more detail on how things can be completed for each section when writing the grid detail for the SIP

Completing the SIP Grids (Aims, targets, Success, Cost)

 Subject Coordinators / leaders look at the position of their subject for the Autumn term and complete the grid detail for that term. They then can project the movement of the subject into the next position and complete the grid for that term and finally for the last movement of that academic year.

Curriculum and Management sections

These 2 sections will now be written term by term – showing the activity for all curriculum areas and also the management progression and differentiation. The combination of the 3 terms documentation obviously gives a costed overview for the year (whether you have chosen academic or financial year) and the activity and direction of the school.

Extras and additions for your SIP :

The following are optional extras that you may wish to consider including in the SIP

  • Review of previous SIP with 1 or 2 line summaries of what was achieved in major areas
  • Listed In service training days held and focus
  • Summary 3 year focus for curriculum  areas – again only a few lines for each

Well that about summarises my thoughts and approach to School Improvement Planning – its a comprehensive working document that allows readers to be able to see at a glance what, where and when things are happening in school and also shows the school to be organised and forward thinking.

The document will feed directly into your School Budget and give a focus for any school evaluation that you may wish to carry out. The direct involvement of subject coordinators links nicely into Professional Appraisal discussions on various levels as well as providing ownership and involvement of all staff. In addition it is informative and accessible for the Schools Governing body who need to be fully aware and often involved in the plans for the future.

I hope that this may have been of help in some way – even if it just gives you some areas  to think about.

Should you wish for copies of the 2 documents shown then please contact me and I can send them to you or if you wish to make any comments or have any questions again please get in touch.




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