Drafting an Education Sector Plan

In early October the twenty-eight directors of education in Saskatchewan got together for four days with Ministry of Education staff to develop a draft Education Sector Plan for our province.  Using a new planning process called HOSHIN KANRI, the directors reviewed large amounts of provincial statistical information, did a facilitated analysis of the strengths and challenges facing our education system, and then began the process of building a draft plan to move our system forward.

The first component of the plan was the identification of Strategic Intents that represent our highest aspirations for all students in the province of Saskatchewan.  Because we want students at the forefront of our planning process, we focused on what we want every student to be able to say as about their experience with the school system. 

The directors reached consensus on five key aspirations we want for all students.  We would like every student, regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability or life circumstances to be able to say:

  1. I am ready to learn: healthy, hopeful, and resilient.
  2. I am respected: safe, supported, and validated.
  3. I am engaged: in activities that encourage me to create and innovate.
  4. I can achieve: at levels appropriate for my ability and aspiration.
  5. I am prepared for my future: in education, employment, or entrepreneurship.

These statements were deliberately framed in the first person, as “I statements” to help us ground our planning in the perspective of the students.  While many of our students could say some of these things presently, we aspire to have an education system where all of our students can say all of these things.  Thus they represent our commitment as a system to putting “Students First.”

The next phase of the planning session focused on the identification of system level strategies that could be deployed to ensure our students are successful.  The five “big picture” Enduring Strategies that the directors were able to achieve consensus on were:

  1. Culturally relevant and engaging curriculum.
  2. Differentiated, high quality instruction.
  3. Culturally appropriate and authentic assessment.
  4. Targeted and relevant professional learning.
  5. Alignment of human, physical, and fiscal resources.

Another component of the DRAFT sector plan outlines the OUTCOMES that the sector hopes to achieve.  They closely resemble those outlined in the Saskatchewan Plan For Growth but also the goals and targets outlined in Regina Public Schools’ Continuous Improvement Plan.  They relate to student achievement and are still in draft stage and will be shared with all Regina Public Schools staff when we have further developed them.

A fourth component of the Draft plant, like the outline of the OUTCOMES, focuses on Improvement Targets and the means by which these will be measured. This component also needs further refinement and will be shared when further developed. It is important to note that these Improvement Targets, very much mirror those that Regina Public Schools has been adhering to in the Continuous Improvement Plan.

The fifth and final components of the draft Plan are three short-term “hoshins”/goals for Improvement Breakthroughs. Once finalized, these hoshins may involve other ministries and partners and set clear direction for short term student outcome success.

The draft Education Sector Plan is a first for our province, in that it represents the first time that Division leaders and Ministry of Education leaders have collaboratively developed a plan to improve student learning.  There is still much to do and much more important dialogue and specific action planning that lies ahead for the benefit of Regina Public Schools and the whole provincial education sector.  

Some of what’s immediately ahead includes:

  • Developing a communication plan
  • Developing individual implementation plans for each hoshin or an outcome (these are called A3’s).
  • Providing an opportunity to Boards of Education, Division staff, and principals to provide feedback on the draft Plan through a process known as CATCHBALL.
  • Providing provincial partner groups such as the STF, the SSBA, and SASBO with opportunities to do the same.
  • Consulting with teachers and other employees on how to achieve the outcomes and hoshins outlined.
  • Finalizing the Plan and allocating resources to support its success.

In the final analysis, the Education Sector Plan, once finalized will become a formal roadmap for a process that is to begin in the 2014-2015 school year.  But, the fundamental direction, intents, and obligations of our school division, have not changed and will not change.  We need to continue as a Division to make our best efforts to make all of our students successful so that they can graduate and take their rightful place in the world.

We will do that the same way we always have; by being focused, professional, collaborative, and realistic. 

And by taking time out periodically to watch the world’s best football team: GO RIDERS!!

Photo Credit: Glen Elm Community School Grade 4 banner.