Leading to the Transformational Plan
In 2004 Dunbar Grammar School received a good to very good inspection report from HMIe (http://www.hmie.gov.uk/documents/inspection/5555736DunbarGSreport.html). After the inspection, the SMT, in discussion with education officials within East Lothian Council, agreed that the school could go much further along the path to excellence by becoming a School of Ambition. There was much discussion at the school as to what the development focus might be and the conclusion was that we would look at five areas of development; leadership, confidence, expectations, learning and teaching and inclusion and community engagement.
The vehicle to be used was to have been Performing Arts but, as we embarked on a huge consultation process with all stakeholders, it became clear that this was too narrow and it was agreed to extend the definition to Creative and Performing Arts. The simple addition of creativity was crucial as this meant that all staff and students in the school could see that they had a place in the programme.
We then looked at how we might organise the focus areas to enable all stakeholders to gain experience in the areas of leadership, confidence and raised expectations. After much debate, we decided to set up seven companies. Initially, these were led by a member of staff but the aim was this role would gradually be taken over by students. The seven companies were; Theatre, Dance, Music, Film and Animation, Broadcasting, Corporate Identity and Catering.
A School of Ambition Strategic Planning group was established to steer the project and, in particular, set the content of the Transformational Plan. Initially, this group met on a weekly basis and the individual company leaders worked with other members of staff to put together the plans for each of the companies. However, as this process continued, it was felt that other stakeholders were not being kept in the frame and that there was a danger of the programme being owned by the small group of individuals who were working most closely with the development of the plan. As a result, it was decided that we should also create a focus group of staff to ensure that there was a wider forum for discussion and debate.
The whole process of agreeing the Transformational Plan agreed took approximately six months and was supported by a variety of staff from East Lothian Council and what was then the Scottish Executive. This was much longer than we had anticipated, but resulted in a much better and more ambitious plan.