Welsh Government school improvement guidance presents a new framework for evaluation, improvement and accountability. Aligning with the Curriculum for Wales, the framework sets out the Welsh Governments’ expectations for schools and others in relation to self evaluation and improvement.

Under the guidance, it remains a statutory requirement for schools in Wales to produce a school development plan. However, the layout and content of these plans are matters for schools to decide. The most important thing  is that schools do the improvement work.

Schools’ self-evaluation will identify strengths as well as areas for improvement, and schools will be supported in their self-evaluation by professional learning, professional discussions with improvement partners and by this national resource. The approaches, reflection prompts and playlists elsewhere in the national resource provide practical guidance to support schools to identify priorities for improvement. The following section of the guidance provides support for schools to plan, implement (do) and evaluate (review) their improvement work.

The planning process is more than committing thoughts to paper. It is a strategic process where schools consider how they can make their aspirations for improvement a reality.

  • Planned improvement work should have a specific purpose. Normally, this will have been identified through evaluation work
  • From evaluation work, schools should prioritise the most important aspects of their work that require improvement. There should be a clear vision and clear aims for the improvement work based on the desired difference to outcomes for learners
  • As part of the prioritisation process, schools should consider the costs of all aspects of improvement work to identify whether plans are viable and, where resources are limited, to work out which aspects of improvement are most important
  • Schools should also consider potential costs and benefits from perspectives other than financial, for example social and emotional costs and benefits to learners, staff and the school community
  • Identifying priorities is also important in enabling schools to take a longer-term view of improvement work, for example by recognising future needs
  • When planning and prioritising improvements, schools should be ambitious but also realistic about what can be achieved in their context, with the resources available (people, time, finance). They should resist the temptation to try to address too many aspects of their work at the same time as this risks compromising the effectiveness of improvement processes
  • Where appropriate schools should identify measurable targets so that they can gauge the effectiveness of improvement work. Targets should be challenging and aspirational. They should enable a school to reflect on the extent of the success of improvement work. Measurable targets will also support a school to reflect on the difference its investment in professional learning, innovation, collaboration, leadership and resources (such as time and money) have made. However, it is not possible or helpful to try to measure all aspects of improvement work. Sometimes the evidence of improvement is in plain sight. Focussing too rigidly on measuring impact may lead to negative cultures such as proving rather than improving. It may deter schools from focussing on aspects of their work where quantifiable results cannot be shown
  • Schools should consider setting out a chronology for improvement (a timeline) that brings together who is doing what and when and why they are doing it.


This identifies:

  • the specific purpose for the improvement work
  • the specific reasons behind actions identified
  • the specific milestones that are expected at points identified during the improvement process


This will include people that are:

  • responsible for leading improvement work
  • taking part in improvement work, for example in a specific professional learning experience
  • evaluating progress of improvement work


This will include:

  • a chronological sequence of planned actions that specifically address improvement priorities. This might involve professional learning, collaboration or evaluation work


This identifies:

  • dates and times for all actions including ongoing evaluation

The school should implement the actions in accordance with agreed timescales as far as possible. They should use the approaches, reflection prompts and playlists in this resource to keep progress under review, for example to evaluate progress against milestones and to adjust strategy if required.

They should also be undertaken periodically at the conclusion of improvement work, to evaluate how sustainable and successful it has been.