Process of Evaluation
Evaluation and monitoring were considered from the very outset and built into the plan. (Click here). Dunbar Grammar had already a fairly strong approach to self-evaluation, monitoring and validation. It was, therefore, natural that similar processes were incorporated into the evaluation of the transformational plan. Just as the school works to an annual improvement plan through the use of a cycle of improvement so the monitoring of the transformational plan was incorporated into the annual cycle of self-evaluation. The main vehicle for this was to use traffic-lighting against the desired outcomes. Annually each element of the transformational plan was coloured red to signify no progress or that it was no longer relevant, amber for in progress and green for completion.
Progress reviews towards agreed outcomes within each of the seven companies were carried out at the end of each year by staff involved. In addition, progress reviews against each of the five development focuses and the Head Teacher undertook long-term impact evaluation.
Evidence gathered for self-evaluation had to be robust and the various methods identified in the monitoring and evaluation sheet in the transformational plan played an important role.
One of the main tools we used was SELS (School Evaluation of Learning System). SELS was used to establish baseline data with each year group. The questionnaire we used was designed to elicit attitudinal data from students across the five areas for development. Each student was asked to respond to a number of statements, which were put together in collaboration with Kevin Lowden from Glasgow University, and our thanks go to Kevin for his continued support throughout the period.
We asked the same cohorts from three years ago to repeat the questionnaire to help establish progress in areas such as confidence, leadership and raising expectations. Our results during the first round were fairly positive. The comparative graphs can be viewed by clicking on the following links:
In addition, the transformational plan went through the same traffic lighting process as our Improvement Plan. Evaluation was conducted in a number of other ways, too, including Senior Management Team discussion, departmental and peer observation, East Lothian QIO Validation visits, Internal Departmental Review, exit questionnaires, interviews, examination results (STACS) and pre-STACS meetings, weekly Departmental Meetings and visits from HMIe and members of the SOA Team. All of these contributed towards the validation of our self-evaluation.
Evaluation of Development Focuses
It is clear that significant progress has been made in all areas. It is, however, hard to unpick what has come about as a direct result of SoA as opposed to the school’s ongoing improvement work. HMI Inspectors visiting to look at the impact of SoA also found that it was impossible to demonstrate a causal link between the SoA project and other areas. Undoubtedly the SoA project accelerated progress on all fronts as a result of improved facilities and equipment and the increased capacity of the staff as a result of substantial staff development opportunities which were made available to them.
You can read more about the evaluation of each area on these pages: