School Leadership Policy Action Planning Toolset
for equity and learning

Getting started
meeting As it has already been pointed out, policy planning is an iterative process. Action plans can offer valid guidance to policy makers and implementers when, on the basis of well organised and structured policy assessment cycles, they get refined and adjusted or even altered in the light of valid and reliable feedback obtained from policy implementation.
The European Policy Network on School Leadership envisages that, by June 2015, 18 School Leadership Action Plans will have been developed by national or state/regional governments in Europe with its support.

A good start for policy planning is the organisation at national or state/regional level of a kick-off event where EPNoSL members/experts meet with representatives of competent authorities and critical stakeholders to discuss, reach consensus and plan policies that are aimed to promote and empower school leadership for equity and learning.

Prior to this kick-off event, organizers have to make some important preparations. What will be the major focus of this event is a first major concern. In a kick-off policy planning event it is expected that participants:

develop a shared understanding of the overarching aims and objectives of school policy planning in their national/regional/state context in view of the policy challenges of equity and learning in schools, and
specify what is the place and role of school leadership policies (if any) within them.

On the above basis, participants should go on to discuss various school leadership policy options that may address challenges of equity and learning, and the scope and rationale of such policies. In later meetings, the school leadership policy planning team will deepen into those policy options that appear to be more promising, given that they satisfy the criteria adopted, such as feasibility, cost-effectiveness, sustainability etc.

Who to invite in this event is a second major concern. EPNoSL strongly supports the engagement of all critical stakeholders already from the policy planning phase and not just on, the usually short, public consultation phase, or during the implementation phase. Yet, the group of participants should be kept relatively small in order to secure that all voices have ample time to be heard, that participants get to know each other better and develop trust, that the group can elaborate in-depth on different issues, specify differences in views and discuss ways to reach consensus. In latter stages of policy planning the group can be widened depending on the feedback and expert consultancy needs.

A third important concern is to ensure that all participants are well informed about what is expected from them during this first event (see focus). To this purpose, participants should be assigned with specific roles and tasks beforehand. For example, some participants could be asked to present to the group evidence indicating challenges/problems of equity and learning in schools, other participants to present an overview of the government's overarching policy aims and objectives and discuss how these respond to challenges/problems of equity and learning, while others to deepen upon whether and how existing policies affecting school leadership relate to equity and learning challenges. To facilitate the action planning process, EPNoSL has developed an Action Plan Template which can be provided to participants so that they can get a better idea of the tasks ahead.

A fourth important concern is to ensure that by the end of the kick-off meeting all participants will have developed a shared understanding and will have agreed on an agenda for their next meetings. This concern is primarily of a methodological nature. EPNoSL envisages that by June 2015 at least 18 Action Plans will have been developed, most of them with the active involvement of the competent school policy authorities in different national/state/regional contexts (i.e., Ministries of Education or policy planning agencies under their supervision). In some of these contexts there is great experience in devising and implementing school leadership policies while in others such policies either consist of one-off, sporadic, interventions or they are at very early stages of development. As a result, it is to be expected that the 18 Action Plans to be developed with assistance by EPNoSL will be quite diverse in terms of specificity and detail. Nevertheless, as we strongly believe, "well begun is half done".

Supporting Document
The EPNoSL Template for School Leadership Policy Action Planning

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© 2014 EPNoSL Project