Future Planning for Effective School Development - Get the Expert Advice!
“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning”, Winston Churchill
As a founder Principal of a new school or a Principal of a school which has been in existence for years the most intimidating and glaring challenge one faces is planning for the development, expansion and sustenance of the school. I call it a challenge because planning for future is merely predictions based on the present evidence. One has to keep in mind all the problems that may occur or may not occur while planning to optimize growth.
Every school has its own Vision and Mission which needs to be always kept in focus, to give the direction to the growth of the school and become the focal point, around which the development plan needs to be created. It applies to private, government, corporate, big or small budget, old and new, formal and informal schools. There are very many schools which have taken off due to great futuristic planning. There are schools that start small, but surely and steadily reach gigantic proportion. There are schools which neither grow nor stop functioning but plod on. There are also many schools which start with a lot of fanfare, hang on for a while but are not able to survive and sustain.
I remember when I had joined a new corporate school as the Principal way back in 2005, I was asked to make a five year detailed development plan for the school, touching each and every aspect of working of the school under four main headings. Finance, Operation, Infrastructure and Academics. On top of it I was also given a deadline.
Of course, at that point of time, it did seem to me a very daunting task, wherein I had to really give in depth thought about the future of the school. I remember burning the midnight oil to come up with what according to me should be a good and balanced plan. Under each heading were various subheading, as I started working new subheadings started cropping up and each one had to be given equal and methodical consideration. I realized what an enormous task has been assigned to me. Slowly but surely a clear picture started emerging of yearly expansion, growth and sustenance of the school. I took the following cycle as my base for planning which kept me focused.
Questions that I asked were:
- Where do we want to go?
- How do we go there?
- How do we measure success?
- How did we do?
- How can we improve ourselves?
The process of planning was done:
- Collaboratively with the involvement of the School Management and staff as I did, by holding regular meetings, discussions, taking feedback, using previous experiences of every member. In case of old schools, parents and students can also be involved as their feedback can become a very strong base for future planning.
- Methodically and Systematically, keeping a bird’s eye view on every nuance related to the school. I didn’t want school’s growth to be random and sporadic. One year school showing rapid growth but next year growth becomes stagnant. I wanted growth to be steady year after year. Thus new initiatives were to be introduced every year.
- Realistically and Logically as one needs to be well grounded and not build castles in the air. Foresee the viability of the plan, what will work and what will not work. Assure space and scope for flexibility and improvement.
- Finally I would say, with a Sense of belonging, with a strong belief, understanding and acceptance of the school’s vision and mission.
Areas that were touched upon and documented, for an easier execution of the planning process keeping in mind all the beneficiaries.
- School Vision and Mission
- School Philosophy and Culture
- Management Review Meetings
- Finance Analysis and Budget allocation
- Competitive analysis
- Marketing analysis and calendar
- HR Management
- School Auditing process
- Vendor Management
- School Policies related to every aspect , even minor aspects like drinking water or evening dispersal or a field trip.
- Infrastructure capability and development
- Security and Safety
- Present Strength, expected strength, TC taken
- Requirements- civil, furniture, electronics, labs, library, teaching aids, sports equipment, kitchen/mess, transport and any other academic or operation related issues.
- Available Resources –Financial, Academics, Infrastructure and Operations
- Mess facility
- Academic Analysis – Curriculum, Teaching Strategies, Assessments, Results, Follow up Inclusive Education, Implementation of board related interventions.
- Student Initiatives
- School Governance
- Staff analysis, professional development and recruitment
- Yearly Events analysis
- Highlights /Milestones of the years gone by and Areas of Improvement
- Introduction of New Initiatives
- Parent Orientation Programmes and Connectivity
- Reaching out to the Community
- Three year comparative analysis
In the long run I found that future planning had given me an edge.
Firstly, presenting yearly development planners with comparative analysis in front of board members, had become a cakewalk for me. I had an extensive document to refer and rely on.
Secondly, I was better prepared mentally and physically, in terms of my requirement for the coming years and was not rushed to complete the work at the last moment.
Documenting the whole process of planning was done in detail, including taking videos and photographs of the progress. The five year development plan had an overall very clear picture of growth of the school under each heading.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. Failing to plan is planning to fail”, Alan Lakein
Bring the future into the present and plan well in advance. Equipped with assured workable and ambitious school development plan the Principal will surely feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction when the school shows remarkable growth, continuity, development and sustenance.
Mrs. Pratima Sinha’s career graph showcases three decades of progressive qualitative experience across a wide gamut of functions in the field of Education. A Postgraduate in Education with Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Business English, she has headed schools with CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE and IB programs.
She has been the external examiner for ICSE examinations, Centre Superintendent and Observer for JEE, CTET, NEET Examinations held by the CBSE Board. She is EDEXCEL (Pearson Teacher Training) certified trainer and has conducted various workshops for teachers and Principals.
Her passion for performing arts has led her to be a member of Nishumbita Theatre Group where she has played many pivotal roles. She is right now working and researching on correlating life skills with theatre and benefits of theatre on autistic children.