What Is a School Development Plan?

In simple terms, the school development plan is a strategic plan aiming for improvement. But the planning process is more complex than its definition. The said plan is a comprehensive working document which schools use to analyze and assess academic performance, trends, school impact, and other improvement targets in a particular cycle. And the challenge in enhancing the quality, performance, and other factors in school is that there are changes and effects to manage. Hence, there are trials and errors to fix as well until the desired outcome will be met, all with the help of effective management.

According to Education Authority (Northern England), the SDP should be prepared and revised periodically in accordance with the 1998 Education Order on the Boards of Governors.

Meanwhile, it is said that Ireland’s second-level education system underwent an increasing number of cultural, curricular, and structural changes ever since the Free Education’s introduction in 1967.

What Is the Purpose of a School Development Plan?

The most common knowledge on why SDP is important is to promote continuous improvements for the school. Without innovation and development, a school might fail to compete with other leading schools. And every year, there are new challenges to face in school not only by the staff but also its students. Hence, development should be given some attention for a better educational system. In fact, a school development plan’s purpose is to ensure that schools are well-prepared for high-quality teaching or learning, teacher empowerment, and effective management for change.

Furthermore, many schools are encouraged to innovate and consider school development planning. An example is how SDP should be prepared or revised periodically to follow the 1998 Education Order on the Boards of Governors. Thus, it is a rule in some areas. And you cannot underestimate SDP’s effects like how it all went down in Ireland’s second-level education system. Based on a report, the said education system experienced an increasing number of cultural, curricular, and structural changes since the Free Education’s introduction way back in 1967.

What Does the School Development Plan Involve?

Indeed, SDP is extremely crucial in many forms may it be for planning, analysis plan, or evaluation purposes. But what exactly is inside that plan in the first place? A bunch of elements can be found inside it. And a standard school development plan would consist of the following:

School Mission and Vision: Every school has its mission and vision statement. And it is essential to create goals that meet these statements. The same goes for the school’s culture and ethos. It would be inappropriate to set plans that contradict the school’s character, goals, and culture. Hence, SDP should confirm whether the plan itself meets the school’s general aims.Overall Assessment: A thorough assessment and analysis report should commence in order to figure out the school’s current position and areas of improvement. The areas to improve alone involves various factors from the teaching quality, learning quality, the school’s development and management performance, and more. Also, assess how the school would perform over the next few years if it can still survive or compete.Level of Resources and Management: Judging from the current results, what is the level of the school’s resources and management? Be honest in evaluating because saying that it is all good without further investigation is bias itself. Incorporating SWOT analysis would be essential for assessing here. And figuring out your school’s current stand enables you to formulate solutions afterward.Improvement Plans: Speaking of formulating solutions, you will do that part in the improvement plans section. So what does the school wish to accomplish in a defined number of years? Or perhaps, what must be achieved on an annual or quarterly basis? Answer it. Express quantifiable targets until you can figure out how to manage them afterward. And as much as possible, improvement plans should aim for a better outcome. SDP without any development is plainly pointless.Action Plan: Now that you have structured the planned solutions, the next question is how to do it. Mention how it will all be done in the action plan. The thing is lots of schools already have excellent planned solutions. But the problem goes to the execution process. Hence, write a smart action plan where you figure out how you intend to make all the achievements happen.Tracking: To be fully aware of how the school is currently doing in following the whole action plan, be sure to set a progress tracker. Tracking is necessary to realize when and how progress will be measured. Maybe the reality is that everything is not what it seems despite formulating a strategic school development plan. And if poor progress takes place, that is a sign to implement changes or double time in taking action.

The Key Players of a School Development Plan

The school development also has some major key players to make the plan happen. Although not every player is an actual person, they are still crucial to help you succeed. Without further ado, here are the four major players of the SDP:


Always add analysis to your checklist in making SDP happen because it is one of the essential tools to make a development plan smoothly. You analyze what previous achievements were done by the school, what the current challenges the school is facing, and many more areas of concern.

Base Plan

A base plan is another significant ingredient for SDP since it guides you from what to do down to the final action plan. The same goes for the list of steps on what to take until all your goals will be fulfilled in the end. And since the base plan is more of the SDP’s foundation, be sure it is already solid and impressive enough in the first place.


All the learnings, takeaways, or purposes of the plan must be highlighted. This part is critical as a reminder for everyone who took part in the plan about why you need to follow the plan. So what can everyone learn from the overall plan? And how will they actually improve education or the school in general? Explain such takeaways so no one loses track of the conclusion desired.


Of course, plans do not work without the staff. Not only one person will craft the plan because you can gather lots of opinions from different staff members. They might have intriguing ideas on how to make a better school. Or perhaps, they know of ways to help both teachers and students enjoy the school in general.

How to Process an Effective School Development Plan

You already know about the school development plan’s definition, purpose, elements, and so much more. But how about creating the SDP itself? You can surely process it well in just five easy steps. Kindly observe the following:

Step 1: Re-evaluate the School’s Goals and Aims

Before you focus on what you intend to accomplish, how sure are you that your plan is relevant to your school’s vision, goals, and aims? To answer that question, begin re-evaluating your school’s goals first. That way, you would have a clear introductory statement regarding what plan should not be contrary to the school’s aims. List every goal and objective clearly until you would know how to start the plan. And if you are positive that the goals help fulfill the educational institution, then go for it.

Step 2: Audit the School’s Current Provisions and Areas of Concern

Check the school’s current provisions, resources, and areas that need improvement. Those are necessary to report until it will be easier what improvement plans must be implemented for the school. A thorough audit shall definitely make a difference. By auditing, you can assess your needs quickly on how to develop education or the school. Suppose your area of concern is because of having a tight sample budget. That also signifies that planning for the budget itself is needed for the SDP.

Step 3: Identify the Appropriate Steps and Actions for Development

Everything you recorded will slowly lead to making an action plan. But before that, you should create a draft on what appropriate steps must be taken to be specific on how the sequence of each action goes. All steps must lead to fulfilling the goals or objectives involved. So whether you need to improve the school’s teaching and learning quality, campus resources, staff leadership, or any other concern, recognize the best steps to develop them.

Step 4: Insert Your Plans in a Template

Once you have finalized your plans, transfer the content to a school development plan template of your choice. Have you seen all our sample templates above already? You have plenty of options to choose from. And the best part is you can always change the format, design, and entire content. Also, all professional templates are premade, meaning you no longer begin from scratch in making the document. But while transferring plans from a draft to a template, be sure you organize the details too. That way, the final display must be well-organized, readable, and detailed.

Step 5: Finalize the Arrangement for Evaluation and Monitoring

After everything you have learned from what SDP is involved with and its key players, be sure they are found in the document. The next step is to evaluate everything. During the assessment, review if the spelling is correct, no area of concern has been ignored, and that everything is just right and complete. And finally, arrange how the monitoring process goes. You already know that tracking the progress of the plan is part of the scheme. So ensure that there is always progress until you complete the structured plan.


What is the difference between SDP and SIP?

SIP refers to school improvement planning, which is sometimes confused with the school development plan. And the difference between the two is that SIP tells us that every school should follow a uniform code. But with SDP, the entire plan is school-based, meaning it is unnecessary for all schools to follow the same code.

What does a school development plan promote?

Expect a bunch of factors regarding what SDP promotes. And the most notable examples are the following:

  • School improvement
  • School effectiveness
  • Quality development
  • Staff improvement
  • Partnership
  • Effective deployment of resources
  • Furtherance of goals and priorities

What can a teacher contribute to students and SDP?

The teachers help the pupils take control of how they learn and recommend a smarter way to think. Also, teachers observe numerous strategies that could boost student participation until every student becomes more responsible to learn. And with the SDP, teachers may help some students who need support.

A school development plan is not just a long authorization of demands. It is a collaborating activity where the teachers, students, parents, staff, and other stakeholders can contemplate and reinvent whatever works better for the school. So even when some steps and processes can be overwhelming, the Herculean effort surely pays off when you reach your desired conclusion. And with the help of our sample school development plan templates, planning has never been made easier. Plan and improve now!