To succeed in a world characterised by rapid change and increased complexity, it is vital that schools can grow, develop and adapt creatively to change and take charge of change so that they can create their own preferable future.
– Stoll, Fink & Earl, 2003
The Board of Trustees is the Crown entity responsible for the governance and the management of the school. It is entrusted to work on behalf of all stakeholders, and is accountable for the school’s performance with the key focus of improving student progress and achievement.
The board’s role is to ensure that every student at the school is able to attain his or her highest possible standard in educational achievement. Therefore, it is also the board’s role to design, in consultation with the school community, the ‘preferable’ future that will best meet the needs of all learners. In this regard, the board emphasises strategic leadership, sets the vision for the school, and ensures the school complies with legal and policy requirements (policies are at governance level, and outline clear expectations to the principal). In doing this, it is important for the board to have an ongoing process of review — to critically reflect on their performance and the current reality, and to use this information to guide and determine sustainable school improvement.
How does the board do this? What evidence does, or can, the board gather to monitor and review their performance? How can the board know how it is performing in regard to its functions?
New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) has developed an online tool to enable a sustainable self-review and school improvement process for board development. This tool has been designed as an online survey that places the ‘lens’ on governance, enabling boards to review their performance across four key areas: leadership, accountability, representation, and employer role. In each of these dimensions key elements have been identified.
|Table 1 – Dimensions and Elements of the Internal Evaluation Tool|
The survey is completed anonymously by groups determined by the board, within the school community.
Once completed, responses to the survey are collated as a report that includes a map of positioning (example Figure 1) and a summary of comments. Respondents are asked to add comments as this provides the board with additional information to guide board development.
Figure 1 – Exploring the feedback
Additional functionality enables the board to drill down into the survey to identify:
- Their current reality — where are we at now? Do we have clarity and shared understanding across the four key areas of governance?
- Strengths — what is working well?
- Areas for development — how can we improve our performance? What are our next steps?
- Progress over time — how have we improved our performance since our last review?
The report also provides the board with a framework to guide conversations that will promote shared understanding, thereby strengthening clarity and board performance.
The NZSTA Governance Internal Evaluation tool will provide boards with an independent and objective process for reviewing their performance.
For further information, visit NZSTA Governance Internal Evaluation tool
Stoll, L., Fink, D., & Earl, L. (2003). It’s about learning. London: Routledge Falmer.