3 strategic considerations for school leaders

speaker talking to audience

Published: November 8th, 2021

School strategy setting requires a balance of different staff and student needs, so here are three considerations to help meet them.

School strategy setting is a complex task for school leaders. It requires balancing a fundamental set of school needs — baseline attainment, budgets, stakeholders, and government policies — with the evolving needs of their staff and students. How do you increase the quality of teaching and learning while protecting staff and student wellbeing? How can you provide more modern equipment with a limited budget?

There’s no one-stop, single solution to these concerns, but there are strategic focuses to guide you. Edtech should underpin them. The 2021/22 US State of Technology in Education Report shows technology is a strategic priority for 81% of respondents, but 30% say they don’t have a specific IT strategy or don’t know if they do. This inconsistency and lack of clarity will only hamper school leaders’ ability to unite their staff towards school goals and streamline their teaching. So here are three strategic considerations to help school leaders achieve their priorities:

1. How well are you integrating technology?

The quality of edtech, the range available, purposeful integration — this can be the difference between wasted investments and targeted tools which empower your teachers. 82% of educators agree tech is an essential part of everyday life which should be reflected in the classroom. This enables them to feel more inspired to innovate with modern tools at their disposal.

But it’s important to avoid ad-hoc purchases or refreshes. A formal IT strategy ensures longevity and monitoring of value across all your school’s devices. It should be shaped by your specific staff and student needs, with guidance from your IT manager — 34% of whom currently don’t provide input or play the lead role on strategy setting — on how to align them to the latest trends. This collaboration will also help you identify valuable edtech, purpose-built for the classroom, over gratuitous gimmicks. Valuable edtech like the ActivPanel — proven to improve teachers’ and IT managers’ productivity, as well as wide cost savings.

2. Are you working hard enough at wellbeing?

It’s this year’s top strategic priority. Social-emotional learning should drive your decisions so you’re not neglecting students’ non-academic needs. It’s vital to maintaining the momentum in the recovery from remote teaching, and will help students fully readjust to the classroom. You should address your school’s particular experience during this time — such as a lack of contact or collaboration — and ensure your environment is a social space where students feel happy and safe.

It’s equally important to apply this same concern to your staff. Many are overburdened, with workload now one of the greatest threats to staff retention — staying positive and motivated was a challenge cited by 38%. Offering staff input on your strategic approach will grant them a gratifying feeling of influence and recognition, as well as increasing their overall buy-in of the strategy. This collaboration not only makes your staff feel happier, it also ensures they’re all aligned with your approach, leading to more successful and positive changes.

3. Is enough time being made for training?

One of the most effective ways to make the most of your edtech and support staff wellbeing is with a commitment to training. Yet the report reveals teacher training is a key priority for only 20% of schools in 2021/22.

The result of training being a low priority in your strategy? Staff are left to upskill themselves, which can mean they lack the latest insight on how to secure learning outcomes, falling behind on sector changes and important issues, such as safeguarding. That’s if they have the time to factor training into their busy routines at all.

By prioritizing training, however, you’ll give them meaningful professional development opportunities, helping them feel more valued. Your school’s training strategy shouldn’t be solely reactive to sudden issues or changes that arise, but planned from the outset based on the challenges your staff currently face. This ensures you’re not carrying forward the same issues, but are improving school processes for your staff and students year-over-year.

What else should shape your school strategy?

The 2021/22 US State of Technology in Education Report covers opinions from thousands of educators on what your strategies need to prioritize, how many agree with their school’s approach, and what it means to be a successful school. For the latest insight on strategy setting for the next year, read the report.