Guidance - Chapter 4: Plans and reports
Guidance made under section 13 of the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000
Summary of new education authority duties
Education authority annual plans and report - NIF and reducing inequalities of outcome (see sections 3F & 3H of the 2000 Act)
- Education authorities must prepare and publish annual plans describing the steps they intend to take during the planning period:
- in pursuance of the NIF for Scottish education;
- to reduce the inequalities of outcome experienced by pupils as a result of socio-economic disadvantage and the ways in which they will consult key partners when deciding how this should be achieved, and;
- the plan must also set out any educational benefits the authorities consider will result from taking all of these steps.
- These plans must be published by the education authority before the beginning of the planning period each year. Education authorities must give a copy of the annual plan to Scottish Ministers as soon as reasonably practicable after publishing the plan.
- Where a new NIF has been published by the Scottish Ministers, education authorities must review and, where necessary, revise their annual plan. Any revised education authority plan must also be published and a copy given to Scottish Ministers as soon as reasonably practicable after publication.
- Education authorities must prepare and publish annual reports setting out the steps they have taken, over the course of the planning period:
- in pursuance of the NIF for Scottish education;
- to reduce inequalities of outcome experienced by pupils as a result of socio-economic disadvantage and the ways they have consulted key partners when deciding how this should be achieved, and;
- the report must also set out any educational benefits for pupils that the authority considers have resulted from taking those steps.
- The education authority annual report must be given to Scottish Ministers as soon as reasonably practicable after publication.
- The legislation is intentionally silent on the format that annual plans/reports should take.
School improvement planning - Headteacher annual plans and reports (see section 6 of the 2000 Act as amended by section 3(4) of the 2016 Act)
- "School development plans" are replaced by "school improvement plans" ( SIPs) and must be produced on an annual basis, with the task being delegated from education authorities to individual Headteachers.
- The plans must be underpinned by consultation  with:
- any Parent Council or Combined Parent Council established for the school;
- teachers employed in the school;
- any volunteers working in the school;
- local bodies representing teachers and parents of pupils in attendance at the school.
- Headteachers must produce these annual SIPs and also annual SIP reports (to be prepared without unreasonable delay after the expiry of the period of twelve months immediately following the preparation of the SIP) describing past and planned activity to secure improvement within their school. SIPs must also take account of the relevant education authority plan (or revised plan) and report prepared under sections 3F and 3H of the 2000 Act which detail work in pursuance of the NIF and to reduce inequalities of outcome and the strategy for parental involvement report prepared under new section 2A of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 (as amended by section 6 of the 2016 Act).
- Summaries of the SIP and corresponding annual SIP report must be provided to parents and pupils and made available to other individuals on request. Full versions of the SIP and the SIP report must be made available to parents and pupils on request.
- The SIP must take account of the education authority's latest Parental Involvement Strategy and must also set out how pupils are to be involved in decisions relating to the operation of the school.
- Education authorities must take account of the SIPs and SIP reports in the development of their own education authority plans and reports.
4. Introduction and context
Summary of planning and reporting processes
The various planning and reporting processes at school, education authority and national levels are designed to produce robust, consistent and transparent data across Scotland to improve our understanding of what works and, ultimately, drive improvement for the benefit of our children and young people. So, what does the legislation provide for and how does it all link together?
A key requirement of these processes is that the Scottish Ministers must publish a National Improvement Framework  . The NIF sets out the four key priorities which all partners in the education system should be working to address. The first NIF was published in January 2016. The first statutory NIF under the 2000 Act will be published around December 2016.
Linked to the NIF, the Scottish Ministers and education authorities must publish annual plans and reports  which focus on pursuing the four key priorities, which include reducing inequalities of outcome as a result of socio-economic disadvantage. Those plans and reports must be published prior to, and as soon as is possible following the end of, the planning period, respectively. A planning period is the relevant 12 months within which action is taken by the Scottish Ministers and education authorities in order to progress the objectives set out in their respective plans.
The first planning period for the Scottish Ministers is proposed to commence on 1 January 2017 and end on 31 December 2017. Education authority duties will not commence until 1 August 2017. Their first planning period is therefore likely to commence on 1 September 2017 and end on 31 August 2018. We expect that their first plans will be published in August 2017 and their first reports will be published as soon as is possible following 31 August 2018.
Feeding into the national and local level planning and reporting will be information provided through the School Improvement Planning process  . Headteachers may be responsible for this process within schools and can determine the timing of their 12 month planning period for the School Improvement Plan, subject to any local processes or procedures adopted by the education authority. Ultimately, it is the education authority which has responsibility for using this information as part of its planning and reporting duties. So, alignment of all of these processes, so far as is possible, will be important and beneficial.
4.1. A revised and improved approach to planning and reporting on educational improvement activity will help to satisfy four key requirements for our education system:
- It will improve the quality and availability of information available to children and young people, parents and teachers.
- It will improve the quality of information available to support education authorities and Community Planning Partnerships in planning and delivering services.
- It will improve the quality of information available to support the development of national education policy;
- It will promote a more coherent approach to planning and reporting across the education system as a whole.
4.2. In order to meet the requirements above, clear and meaningful planning and reporting at school, education authority and national level must take place. The 2000 Act achieves this through the establishment of requirements on Ministers, education authorities and schools to plan and report on improvement activity.
4.3. Taken together, these planning and reporting arrangements will form a continuous coherent annual improvement cycle, providing a line of sight between national improvement activity and efforts to raise standards within individual schools and authorities.
4.4. Targeted planning and reporting linked to the duties covered in chapters 2 and 3 of this statutory guidance should be fulfilled in a way which complements other relevant planning and reporting regimes including, most notably, children's services planning, local outcome improvement planning and broader education authority standards and quality reporting. All of these planning processes are designed to improve outcomes for Scotland's population and promote a coordinated and evidence-led approach to the use of resources. It is therefore clear that each of these planning/reporting processes has the potential to enrich the other.
Duties the education authority must fulfil - sections 3F and 3H plans and reports
4.5. Section 3 of the 2016 Act introduces sections 3F and 3H of the 2000 Act which place duties on education authorities to prepare annual plans and reports describing past and planned activity to i) reduce inequalities of educational outcome experienced by pupils as a result of socio-economic disadvantage, and ii) achieve the strategic priorities of the NIF.
4.6. Section 6 of the 2000 Act (as amended by section 3(4) of the 2016 Act) places a duty on Headteachers to produce annual plans and reports describing past and planned activity to secure improvement within their school. Those plans must take account of the relevant education authority plan and report produced under sections 3F and 3H and of the strategy for parental involvement under section 2 of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006.
4.7. Section 3F requires each education authority, before the beginning of the planning period each year, to prepare and publish an annual plan describing the steps they intend to take during the planning period in pursuance of the NIF. The annual plan must also describe the steps they intend to take to reduce the inequalities of outcome experienced by pupils as a result of socio-economic disadvantage and the ways in which they will consult key partners when deciding how this should be achieved. Finally, the plan must set out any educational benefits they consider will result from taking these steps. Education authorities must give a copy of the annual plan to Scottish Ministers as soon as reasonably practicable after publishing the plan. Where a new NIF has been published, education authorities must review and, where necessary, revise their annual plan. Any revised plan must be published and a copy given to Scottish Ministers.
4.8. Section 3H requires each education authority to prepare and publish an annual report setting out the steps they have taken in pursuance of the NIF. The report must also describe the steps they have taken to reduce the inequalities of outcome experienced by pupils as a result of socio-economic disadvantage and the ways in which they have consulted key partners when deciding how this should be achieved. The reports must also set out any educational benefits for pupils that the authority considers results from taking those steps. The education authority annual report must be given to Scottish Ministers as soon as reasonably practicable after publication.
Planning period (education authorities)
4.9. The planning period for the purposes of section 3F(1) (education authority planning period) is defined in section 3F(4) as the period of 12 months beginning with such day as the Scottish Ministers prescribe by regulations. The intention is that the planning period for Ministers will run from 1 st January to 31 st December in any given year, and from 1 st September to 31 st August for education authorities. While regulations will prescribe particular points in the year for the planning period, which will then drive the publication of plans and reports, the expectation is that education authorities should be seeking to continuously improve, regularly collating and analysing the information it has to hand in the fulfilment of its duties.
4.10. Education authorities will wish to note that the "planning period" is the terminology used in the 2000 Act as amended by the 2016 Act. In practice, the planning period will be a 12 month period of implementation where Ministers and education authorities will implement their respective plans which they have published prior to the commencement of that period. So, it is actually a period of activity rather than a period for planning solely. The intention is to commence education authority duties in August 2017. Therefore, their first plan would be published on or after the 1 August 2017 but prior to commencement of their 12 month statutory planning period on 1 September.
4.11. The timings proposed are intended to draw upon existing education authority development planning processes (which are to be replaced by school improvement planning, see paragraph 4.31 of this guidance). These suggest that schools begin their planning processes around January/February with plans signed off by education authorities around April/May time. The proposed timings are therefore intended to enable education authorities to work efficiently and reduce burden by using information which already exists to inform the NIF annual planning and review process led by the Scottish Ministers.
Approaches the education authority may take to fulfil its duties
The planning and reporting process
4.12. Planning for educational improvement should be viewed as a continuous process, within which the preparation of an annual plan and corresponding report are discrete elements. The process of planning should inform and underpin decisions relating to local organisational structures, investment, interventions and commissioning; all of which should be based on the range of available evidence.
4.13. Partners can prove a valuable source of evidence and it is important that they are given the opportunity to inform and influence an education authority's approach to improvement. Accordingly, authorities are encouraged to conduct their planning in as inclusive and collaborative a fashion as possible and to use recognised good practice when consulting, building on the National Standards for Community Engagement  .
4.14. This involves using a range of methods to engage a wide range of partners from a variety of backgrounds, providing them with the support they need to participate in the planning process.
4.15. The 2016 Act is intentionally silent on the model to be adopted by education authorities when planning for future improvement activity  . However, any model adopted must operate with specific reference to the strategic priorities and drivers for improvement which are set out in the NIF and be in a position to provide information to support the evidence base. It may be helpful for education authorities to refer to an example of a 3 step improvement framework for Scotland's public services which provides guiding principles to help achieve improvement  .
4.16. It is generally recognised that good improvement activity involves a number of discrete but closely related processes:
|Analyse||Undertake a detailed assessment of the current position. This will be achieved (in part) through the preparation of annual reports under section 3H of the 2000 Act.|
|Plan||Establish a clear vision of what will be achieved by the end of the plan, setting priorities and objectives with clear reference to:
|Do||Agree which activities will be delivered in order to realise that vision. Decide how those activities will be resourced, with reference to planned national activity being taken forward under the NIF's key priorities for improvement.|
|Review||Monitor progress through a structured process of evidence-based review and development, including through the preparation of an annual report under section 3H of the 2000 Act.|
4.17. As noted above, effective analysis and review of past activity is central to effective strategic planning. Education authorities will be expected to draw on their full range of available evidence to reach conclusions about the effectiveness of past improvement activity in their area, including:
- Progress being made by particular groups for example; children and young people who have Additional Support Needs, including those with social and emotional behavioural difficulties, those who are young carers and those who have English as an Additional Language, or are looked after children and young people;
- Senior phase: qualifications and the proportion of young people in learning, training and work;
- Teacher professional judgement data on achievement of CfE levels, particularly in literacy and numeracy;
- Scottish standardised assessment data: progress in literacy and numeracy, in particular;
- Other locally available assessment data;
- Childhood development data ( e.g. 27-30 month Child Health Review);
- Other child and maternal health-related data ( e.g. smoking during pregnancy);
- Availability, uptake and evidence of success of early intervention programmes ( e.g. parenting programmes, adult literacy classes, etc);
- Data relating to wider achievement;
- Statistical data relating to attendance, absence and exclusions (including uptake of early learning and childcare);
- Staff qualifications and skills;
- Health and wellbeing statistical data;
- Local labour market data;
- Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation data;
- School inspection findings;
- Careers Information Advice and Guidance review findings;
- Outputs from college reviews (whether local authority colleges or other);
- Outputs from school improvement planning and self-evaluation activity;
- Outputs from local authority quality assurance and self-evaluation activity;
- Outputs from Parent Council involvement in school improvement planning;
- Feedback from pupils via the pupil council or other collaborative methods to draw in pupil views on teaching and learning practice as well as the wider life and work of the school;
- Parental surveys, informal methods to gather parent views as well as the more formal routes via the Parent Council;
- Discussions with teacher trade unions representatives, and;
- Corporate Parenting plans and reports.
4.18. Education authorities are encouraged to continuously consider how they can enhance the range of data and evidence available to them. Authorities should consider any short, medium and long term trends demonstrated through available data and should seek to draw conclusions and highlight any variations in outcomes experienced by disadvantaged pupils when compared with their peers.
4.19. One such source of evidence may be Insight, the senior phase benchmarking tool developed by the Scottish Government and partners, accessible online by secondary schools and education authorities since September 2014. It supports self-evaluation and professional dialogue, by providing schools with their attainment and destinations information in a format that assists data-led enquiry to identify possible areas for improvement for young people. This data is linked to Pupil Census and attainment information to allow benchmarking on a range of key measures. The leavers-based measures allow schools and education authorities to look at overall attainment, literacy and numeracy, and course-level data, in the context of deprivation and destinations.
4.20. Importantly, education authorities should seek to establish not only whether improvement has been secured and inequalities of outcome reduced, but also how that has been achieved. Adopting this approach will allow education authorities to:
- more effectively target future improvement activity;
- share good practice across their authority area and with other education authorities, and;
- inform the identification and delivery of improvement activity at the national level.
4.21. Authorities should consider the effectiveness of the procedural and administrative steps adopted to support them in i) reducing inequalities of outcome linked to socio-economic disadvantage; and ii) achieving the strategic priorities of the NIF. Finally, authorities should consider the effectiveness of their approach to engaging partners in their efforts to fulfil these duties.
4.22. When planning future improvement activity, education authorities should also take account of the effectiveness of measures adopted by partners elsewhere in the country as well as any emerging national and international good practice. Sources of evidence may include:
- annual plans and reports produced by Scottish Ministers under sections 3E and 3G of the 2000 Act;
- emerging evidence from other education authorities and national change programmes;
- emerging learning captured through the National Improvement Hub, and;
- other relevant national and international research.
4.23. Drawing on the above will complement existing approaches to strategic planning. It will allow education authorities to ensure that all future improvement activity is based on a sound, evidence-based understanding of local strengths and weaknesses and on the effectiveness of local, national and international interventions which have the potential to support the strategic priorities of the NIF and improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by socio-economic disadvantage.
4.24. Planning and reporting on reducing inequalities of outcome, pursuing the priorities in the NIF will of course form part of a wider public service planning and reporting landscape. There will be clear links to a broad number of strategic multi-agency planning processes, including (but not limited to):
- Local Outcomes Improvement Plans required under section 6 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015;
- Children's Services Planning required under section 8 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, and;
- Community Learning and Development under the Requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013.
4.25. There will also be clear links to more targeted local plans designed to strengthen provision for particular groups of children and young people, including for example:
- Education authority standards and quality reports provided for through section 7 of the 2000 Act;
- Corporate parenting plans required under Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, and;
- Early learning and childcare plans required under Part 6 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
4.26. Whilst there is some variation in the planning periods/cycles associated with some of the above mentioned processes, there is nothing to prevent education authorities from seeking to use these existing structures to satisfy their planning/reporting duties under sections 3F and 3H of the 2000 Act. It is for individual education authorities to decide whether, and if so, how best to link these planning and reporting requirements, reflecting local circumstances and need.
4.27. Similarly, education authorities retain their separate duties in relation to the promotion of equal opportunities (section 3I of the 2000 Act as inserted by section 3(2) of the 2016 Act), parental involvement (sections 2 and 2A of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006) and promotion of health (section 2A of the 2000 Act). Authorities will wish to explore the scope for developing an integrated approach to meeting those wider planning and reporting duties in a coherent and joined up way with the new duties imposed by the 2016 Act.
Format of plans/reports
4.28. All plans/reports must be published in order to facilitate the sharing of good practice, to support local scrutiny and to enhance the education authority's accountability to the communities it serves. At the same time, the publication should be submitted to Scottish Ministers with a view to informing national activity to deliver improvement.
4.29. Analysing past activity is central to effective strategic planning. This guidance recognises the clear links which exist to other key strategic planning processes in which the education authority is involved. As already mentioned, there is nothing to prevent education authorities from seeking to use those existing planning and reporting structures (and associated publications) to fulfil their planning/reporting duties under sections 3F and 3H of the 2000 Act.
4.30. The 2000 Act is intentionally silent on the format that annual plans/reports should take. Education authorities are encouraged to consider formats where priorities and objectives are clear and measurable, and where the rationale behind them is explicit and evidence based. Any plan/report must demonstrate:
- clear links to the strategic priorities and drivers for improvement established through the NIF;
- the need to reduce inequalities of outcome experienced by pupils as a result of socio-economic disadvantage;
- alignment with broader children's services planning and community planning objectives, and;
- clear links to Scotland's National Outcomes.
School improvement planning
4.31. The process of statutory school improvement planning is provided through section 6 of the 2000 Act (as amended by sections 3(3) and 3(4) of the 2016 Act  ). Section 6 requires education authorities to prepare school improvement plans, as opposed to school development plans (the preparation of which is delegated to individual school Headteachers by section 8 of the 2000 Act). The school improvement plan must now take account of the authority's annual plan (or revised plan) under section 3F of the 2000 Act, its annual report under section 3H of the 2000 Act and its strategy for parental involvement under section 6 of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006. Section 6 requires that school improvement plans (" SIP") be produced on an annual basis and those plans must be underpinned by consultation with:
- any Parent Council or Combined Parent Council established for the school;
- teachers employed in the school;
- any volunteers working in the school, and;
- local bodies representing teachers and parents of pupils in attendance at the school.
4.32. The SIP should describe intended activity to be undertaken within the school in the coming year for the purpose of securing improvement in the quality of education being provided. Section 6(1)(a) of the 2000 Act (as amended by section 3(4) of the 2016 Act) requires that such activity be identified with reference to the relevant education authority's latest annual plan and report (see paragraphs 4.5 to 4.8) and its latest parental involvement strategy (required by section 2 of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006) as amended by section 6 of the 2016 Act. SIPs must also set out how pupils are to be involved in decisions relating to the operation of the school.
4.33. A corresponding SIP report will be produced annually describing the action taken to implement the SIP. The majority of education authorities in Scotland already produce annual 'Standards and Quality' reports. These Standards and Quality reports fulfill the existing duty under section 6(4) of the 2000 Act to prepare a report as to what was done to implement the school development plan. In effect, the SIP annual report becomes part of this existing process, it is just the case that additional information (see paragraph 4.31.) will need to be reported against. Summaries of the SIP and corresponding annual SIP report must be provided to parents and pupils and made available to other individuals on request. Education authorities may wish to consider the option of developing pupil and parent friendly versions of their SIP. In every instance they should seek to ensure that their SIP is clear, straightforward and accessible to staff, pupils, parents and community partners. Full versions of the SIP and SIP report must be made available to parents and pupils on request.
Planning period (schools)
4.34. Whilst SIPs (and their corresponding SIP reports) must be produced on an annual basis, there is no statutory "planning period" associated with this process. It is therefore open to individual Headteachers to identify the 12 month period to which their plan relates, subject to any local processes or procedures adopted by the education authority.
4.35. Practice dictates that such plans and reports tend to be developed within the first quarter each calendar year and published in time for the start of the subsequent school year. Whilst not a legal requirement, individual schools and education authorities are encouraged to continue operating on this basis. In doing so, Headteachers may find it helpful to consider the relationship between SIP planning and Working Time Agreement processes for their schools in order to avoid overly burdensome or bureaucratic practice being adopted and to ensure that the improvement activities identified within SIPs are able to be fully resourced and to be delivered within teachers' working time. Headteachers may wish to bear in mind outputs from the Scottish Government's Curriculum for Excellence Working Group on Tackling Bureaucracy  which contain, amongst other matters, a range of examples from schools and education authorities on how they are tackling bureaucracy in four key areas of concern: forward planning; assessment; self-evaluation and improvement processes; and monitoring and reporting. Additionally, the Scottish Government's Working Group on Assessment and Qualifications produced a report setting out a range of actions to reduce teacher workload  . Furthermore, Education Scotland has published guidance  in response to the findings of the Assessment and Qualifications report which Headteachers may wish to draw upon in putting together their SIPs.
The planning and reporting process
4.36. School self-evaluation and improvement should be viewed as an on-going and collaborative process, with the annual school improvement planning and reporting cycle featuring prominently. How good is our school? 4 TH edition ( HGIOS 4), as well as those concerning Early Learning and Childcare and Community Learning and Development, are toolkits for schools to use to engage in evidence-based analysis of what is working well and what needs to improve within their establishment. Headteachers should use that framework to inform the content of SIPs. They may also wish to bear in mind the Career Education Standard which contains a number of entitlements. In addition, they will wish to bear in mind the requirement to involve parents, as set out in the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006  and associated statutory guidance  . Reference to the Education (School and Placing Information) (Scotland) Regulations 2012  may also be helpful as part of this process.
4.37. HGIOS 4 recognises the central importance of analysing past activity and wider evidence as part of effective improvement planning. The process of preparing plans and reports should therefore form part of a single improvement planning exercise. In this regard, the Career Information Advice and Guidance Framework also reflect many of the HGIOS 4 Quality Indicators and Headteachers may find it useful to also refer to this.
4.38. It is important that SIPs form part of a coherent approach to raising standards at all levels within the education system and that they reflect and address NIF priorities. In applying the NIF, schools must explore how their own plans can complement improvement activity across their education authority. This will involve (but not be limited to) reviewing the relevant education authority annual plan and report, having cognisance of community planning approaches and local/regional colleges and SDS operations.
4.39. Before publishing their SIP, Headteachers are encouraged to consider whether it requires to be supplemented or revised to take account of any new activity or evidence set out in their education authority's updated annual plan/report (see paragraphs 4.5 to 4.8) which will usually be published to coincide with the start of the school year.
4.40. Headteachers may find it helpful to consider the following challenge questions when preparing their SIP:
- Using the features of highly effective practice and the challenge questions within HGIOS 4, what overarching conclusions can be drawn about our school's strengths and aspects for development?
- How well placed is our school to deliver the strategic priorities of the National Improvement Framework?
- Building on the NIF drivers for improvement, which aspects of our school's approach to learning need to be strengthened in the coming year if we are to deliver both excellence and equity?
- What evidence can I draw on to support us in identifying the most appropriate interventions for our learners and staff in the coming year?
- How can our school benefit from authority-wide improvement activity?
- How can we ensure that learners and parents play a central role in the life of our school over the coming year?
- How can we ensure that our partners make a valuable contribution to the development of children and young peoples' employability skills?
- How well do we support parents to become actively involved in their child's learning and progression?
4.41. Answering the above challenge questions should support Headteachers in developing a SIP which provides a holistic picture of the improvement activity required across their school in a given year, with the NIF placed at its core. Reference to a number of challenge questions contained within HGIOS 4 may also be helpful to Headteachers in developing their SIP.
Format of plans and reports
4.42. HGIOS 4 recognises the central importance of analysing past activity and wider evidence as part of effective improvement planning. In line with this principle, schools are encouraged to fulfil their duties to produce annual SIPs and corresponding SIP reports through the preparation of a single publication should they wish.
4.43. It is for individual Headteachers, working in partnership with their education authority, to identify the preferred format for their SIP. Whichever format is adopted, Headteachers are encouraged to set out priorities and objectives which are clear and measurable, and where the rationale behind them is explicit. Clear links should be made to:
- the need to reduce inequalities of outcome experienced by children and young people as a result of socio-economic disadvantage;
- the Strategic Priorities of the NIF;
- the key drivers for improvement which are set out in the NIF;
- any objectives identified and agreed by the education authority with a view to supporting school improvement;
- planned steps to improve outcomes, and;
- the Quality Indicators set out in HGIOS 4.
Email: Hazel Crawford, email@example.com