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Key Elements (Secondary): Improvement Planning

Created on 04 November 2009 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 05 April 2013 by ncetm_administrator

Features of effective practice

An effective improvement plan:
  • relates to the whole school improvement plan
  • has clear sections for each development area which relate to the department’s self-evaluation (see Fundamentals ‘Self-evaluation’ and ‘Vision’)
  • has a mixture of short term achievable actions and long term changes of culture
  • provides detail about each area which makes clear:
    • what is to be done?
    • who will lead or manage it?
    • what the timescale for the activity is?
    • what funding is available for this?
    • what monitoring activities are in place to help check that developments have been successful?
    • how the department will know when it is done and has been successful?
  • is regularly reviewed and/or refined

Case Study 1: School A - Planning Ahead

Over the years I have developed a certain sequence of tasks and developments that I try to undertake at specific times during the year.

I find this really helps me to stay ahead of things and be a bit more pro-active and less reactive.

July 2007: This is when I make a start on my improvement plan for the next academic year. We discuss it within the department and then I write it. A timescale for monitoring is decided.

school improvement plan


November 2007: By this time monitoring has taken place with further support and actions decided as a result.

 school improvement plan after November

Case Study 2: School B - Linking to the Whole School Development Plan

At our school the SLT created a school improvement plan with four broad headings:


  • Curriculum Development
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Developing Aspirations
  • Community Links

Each department is then asked to create an improvement plan guided by these four areas. I discuss this with my team, and draft the improvement plan for the department as a result. A copy of the improvement plan is passed back to SLT for their approval, and the whole-school improvement plan is then updated accordingly. Funding requests can then be linked to the agreed plan.

Every member of the mathematics team keeps a copy, and the designated timescales ensured that action is taken as planned. The plan is reviewed towards the end of the academic year.

School Development Plan: 2007-2008
Faculty: Mathematics

 Key Area  Aim  Action (Provision requirted)  Who  Success Criteria  Review Date
CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT Develop objective driven schemes of work for two-tier GCSE

Broaden the experience of staff at AS/A2 Level

Introduce Entry Level qualification in KS4
All staff constantly involved in the review and development of schemes of work (time)

Purchase of textbooks for Year 11 (money)

Formal homework tasks for KS4 students (time,reprographics)

Teaching load to be shared between more staff (timetable)

Investigate what is appropriate for relevant pupils (CPD)

PH to liaise with DC and TAs


All and GF

Schemes of work in place

Staff using schemes in lesson planning


Exam entries (2009)





TEACHING AND LEARNING  Improve classroom environment so that the suite of Maths rooms become part of the learning experience

Use of quality resources to enhance teaching and learning
Flooring in Room 8RB (money)

Decoration of classroooms (money)

Resources; for example: backing paper, posters, standard equipment (money)

Improving Learning in Mathematics activities noted on KS4 schemes of work and used by staff (time, reporgraphics)

Resources; for example: interactive whiteboard in Room 12, pattern blocks, cuisenaire rods, mini-whiteboards, class of scientific calculators (money)


Schemes of work

Lesson plans



GCSE 71% Grade C+
KS2 to KS4 3 levels of progress: 62%

Maths contribution to STEAM club
Revision classes resourced and stafffed (time)

Underachievers identified, targeted and monitored by AT and JK.

Revision packs provided (reporgraphics)

Analysis of test results circulated

Clubs set up in collaboration with Science and Technology (time)


KS2 scores on database



COMMUNITY LINKS Develop links with partner primary schools

Maths department website set up and advertised 
Reciprocal visits with primary schools to observe teaching in learning in adjacent phase (time)

Obtain KS2 test results and scores as soon as possible to allow prompt setting to take place (admin)

Information for pupils and parents included (time)

Schemes of work included (time)

Homework tasks included (time)

School newsletter to advertise this (time)


KS2 scores on databse







Case Study 3: School C - Trying to Get a True Picture

I am a fairly new subject leader and when I moved to my present school I was asked by SLT to identify the priorities for development in the department. I had quite a lot of data and certainly enough to suggest areas on which we could focus, but felt there was something missing. I didn’t feel that we were getting a true picture of what the learning experience of pupils in the classroom was like.

After discussion with our local mathematics consultant, I decided to use a ‘maths climate’ tool below (adapted from an Able, Gifted and Talented (AGT) document produced by the Science National Strategy) to help us gauge the learning atmosphere in classrooms. SLT were happy with this because if fitted with our whole school practice of using ‘learning walks’ to inform self evaluation; a Mathematics Learning Walks recording sheet is available to download.

I discussed this proposal with my department and later carried out the activity. The outcomes were not directly linked to individual teachers: they formed the basis of a subsequent departmental meeting.


What does Ofsted say?

(Excerpts from the Ofsted report Mathematics: understanding the score).

This report offers a range of external perspectives, examples of good practice and indications of national trends and standards which can be very helpful to a subject leader.

Here we have included elements which are relevant to this section on improvement planning.

72. The quality of departmental improvement planning varied widely; the best tackled identified shortcomings and areas for development, linking to whole-school priorities where relevant, with clearly defined actions, and measurable success criteria. A positive development in departments which were effective and improving was the use of meeting and planning time to discuss teaching and learning and share ideas.

Links to the Secondary Magazine’s ‘Diary of a subject leader’

The NCETM Secondary Magazine, published fortnightly, has a number of features of interest to those working in secondary education. These include ideas for the classroom, 5 things to do, the diary of a subject leader – and Up2d8 maths, which uses topical news as a starting point for further mathematical study.

In this section we have included links to the ‘Diary of a Subject Leader’ items which relate to the issue of improvement planning:

Reflection and Next steps

  • reflect on the features of effective practice and think about what key areas within Improvement Planning you want to develop now
  • look through the case studies and the excerpts from the Ofsted report Mathematics: understanding the score and decide whether there are any tasks or actions you might want to take that are prompted by these
  • use the NCETM Personal Learning Space to record any personal reflections, actions or tasks
  • from policy to practice.

Use this pro-forma to support you in planning your next steps.

Going Further

 Secondary Home
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