Making sense of self review
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Making Sense of Self Review. ERO has promoted the importance of self-review in recent years. The quality of a school ’ s self-review practices is a major determining factor in the timing of the next review. . ERO ’ s Influence.

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Making Sense of Self Review

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Making Sense of Self Review

ERO has promoted the importance of self-review in recent years. The quality of a school’s self-review practices is a major determining factor in the timing of the next review.

ERO’s Influence

ERO values and promotes a ‘review’ lens on school change, improvement and development.

ERO’s focus on the ‘review’ lens in isolation of the ‘development’ lens confuses schools. Are they developing as a result of their ‘reviews’ or reviewing their developments?

There is a chicken and egg argument here!

Reviewing is part of a cycle of review and development.

For example, when the NZC was introduced were schools reviewing their old curriculum or developing their new one?

When a school researches modern learning environments is it reviewing the suitability of its current environment or developing its environment to reflect 21st century learning?

Does it matter?

Yes for three main reasons:

  • Schools often do not recognise their practices and processes as ‘self-review.’

  • Not recognising the review lens in this way is a barrier to school’s making sense of self-review.

  • ERO reviewers speak the language of review. Therefore it helps when schools can participate in external review using the same language as reviewers and give examples through a ‘review’ lens.

Lois’s Insights of Self-Review in Primary Schools

Self-review occurs as a patchy, ad-hoc plethora of initiatives.

In most schools:

Much self-review goes on that is not recognised as self-review.

There is no model or framework to give an overview of the review work that is happening.

There is not a consistent process of review.

Leaders have not made good enough sense of self-review to lead this area effectively.

In many schools:

Self-review lacks purpose or is done primarily for accountability purposes.

Is often superficial or lightweight.

Results and next steps are identified but not well implemented or achieved.

Leaders and teachers struggle to find meaningful ways to review the wider curriculum other than numeracy and literacy.

Reviews rarely include student voice.

The language of self-review is not well understood or established.

For a range of reasons the professional culture does not support useful forms of self-review.

Focus on review models or frameworks

ERO introduced the idea of 3 tiered model of review.

The framework I am going to introduce now can be used to help you to:

  • recognise review practices at classroom, team, leadership and board levels

  • consider critically how well these practices are working

  • decide what to drop off, what to strengthen and what to introduce

  • consider how well review at each level of review is used to inform the other levels

  • educate your staff about self-review

    Ideally there will be a flow through from top to bottom and bottom to top. Once you have your diagram you can critically look at what is working, what is flowing through and what is not.

Lois’s Framework

Smaller Schools


Being able to review collaboratively and the possibility of effecting change quite rapidly. Where are we? Where do we want to be? How are we going to get there?


The lack of personnel to lead a broad self-review programme

Larger Schools


More staff, often with some expertise and the time to lead various areas of review e.g. a walking DP


Dispersing and communicating the recommendations and next steps, implementing these and monitoring success.

The Context of the School Influences the Approach

Self-Review as Inquiry

Self-review can be thought of as an ‘Inquiry process’ similar to the typical ‘Inquiry learning process in many schools. The cycle of ‘Teaching as Inquiry’ is helping teachers to develop the necessary ‘inquiry disposition’ to use evidence to inquire into the teaching and learning relationship to inform their classroom practice.

Similarly, self-review at school-wide level can be thought of as a process of inquiry for leaders. Leaders inquire into the operations, processes and the practices of the school to inform our strategic decision-making.

It is possible to follow a similar set of steps to an inquiry learning cycle to implement and use the information from self-review to make informed, evidence based decisions.

Developing a Consistent Process


    Jacqui Duncan - Cashmere Primary School: 2010 - Principal Sabbatical Inquiry: ‘Critical School Wide Self Review’

    Ian Poulter - Bluestone School: 2012 Sabbatical Report: ‘Self- Review’

  • Realising the Power of Professional Learning – Helen Timperley (2011)

    Great background reading especially Chapter 8 ‘Iterative Cycles of Inquiry, Creating Coherence, Inquiry Coherence and Policy and Conclusions.

  • Various ERO National Reports available on including:

    Evaluation at a Glance: What ERO Knows About Effective Schools – March 2011

    Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools – August 2012.

  • Lois Christmas – Phone: 03 980 8245 Cell: 027 210 6055

    Email: Website:


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