The applications of a good strategic plan are wide-ranging. We’ve spoken to principals before who have used it for their recruitment, while for others it has become a focal point for everything from sports matches to assemblies.
But what about uses for a strategic plan outside one’s own school environment? As Dave Robinson, principal at Dunsandel School discovered, a little learning with Springboard Trust can go a long way.
Dave took on the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP) in 2019 and, at first, wasn’t sure how it would all come together.
“After the first meeting, I was wondering how we were going to spend a year on strategic planning – it's not exactly something that spins my wheels. Historically I’d write it, the Board Chair would give input, and that would be it.”
“But by the end, you end up seeing the links between the plan and everything the school does – the cohesive direction that the plan brings together. The one-page thing we finish with, that blew me away in terms of how clearly it lays out what we want to do, in a way that I can put out to the community, board, students, staff, everyone.”
That clarity of direction would prove critical for Dave and the wider Dunsandel community, as they faced some immense challenges through 2019 and 2020.
“We had a series of really traumatic events in the community in 2019, three big things in three weeks – it really rocked us. As a school we decided that wellbeing – even through it had been rammed down all our throats for so long – really needed to be our focus. It was incredibly hard though – a community dealing with death, where do you start?”
But from this consensus, some amazing initiatives and programmes emerged, all under the banner of looking after the students and community.
“We went with a programme called Bounce Back, developed in Australia after bushfires in the 80s. That became a driving force, and we got going on a wellbeing team and a lot of really intimate initiatives to support the kids.”