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5 Steps to Planning for Improved Learning
The techniques of strategic planning in education are well-developed, but students’ actual learning experiences have not always been the central concern. In the context of the new Education 2030 focus on education quality, what steps can planners go through to ensure that their education sector plans give priority to improving students’ learning outcomes?
Developing an education sector strategic plan can be a complex and iterative process. But in its simplest form, Planning for Learning involves five basic steps, from analysis of the current situation through to the detailed planning needed to accomplish change. Below, we suggest some of the key questions education planners need to ask in order to focus each step of this process on improving learning outcomes.
1. Education sector analysis: Where are we now?
The process of planning for improved learning outcomes starts with a diagnosis of the current situation in the education sector, with a specific focus on learning.
Questions to ask: What information about students’ learning do we have, and what are we missing? What are students learning and how well are they learning it? Does their learning match the needs, aspirations, and plans of their parents, communities, and the nation? What are the major learning successes and weaknesses, and what are the causes behind them?
Tools planners can use: Assessment data, Other monitoring data, SWOT analysis, Problem tree analysis.
2. Policy and strategies: Where do we want to go?
A plan for improving learning outcomes should offer a vision of a desirable situation for the education system in the future, and identify the ways to reach this situation.
Questions to ask: What are our end goals for improving learning? What are our medium-term objectives? Which strategies will be effective in achieving these learning goals and objectives?
Tools planners can use: Explore strategies for improving learning, Convert your problem tree into a solution tree, Complete a strategic planning grid.
3. Programmes: How do we get there?
Once policy priorities and key strategies have been defined, they must be translated into specific actionable programmes.
Questions to ask: What are the immediate results or outputs that must be achieved in order to meet our learning objectives and end goals? Which programmes and activities must be carried out in order to produce those outputs? How will objectives and outputs be measured?
Tools planners can use: Complete a Logical Framework Matrix, Develop indicators and targets.
4. Costing and financing: How much will it cost and who will pay?
To be achievable, policy priorities and strategies have to be consistent with the demographic and economic realities.
Questions to ask: What are the categories of costs involved in each of our activities to improve learning? What are the other recurring costs in the education sector? Do we need to account for growth (population growth, increased attendance, etc.) when calculating our recurring and new programme costs? What are our projected sources of funding and does the total match our projected costs?
Tools planners can use: Simulation models, Budget template for GPE grants.
Once projected costs have been established, policies, strategies, activities and/or targets may have to be revised in an iterative process until the plan is feasible in all respects.
5. Action plan: Who will do what and when?
The action plan is sometimes referred to as an implementation plan or operational plan. It outlines the detailed activities for a specific period of the plan, with information on timing, roles, responsibilities, and costs.
Questions to ask: Which institutions and departments are responsible for each activity to improve learning outcomes? When should each activity be accomplished? Will the financial resources be ready on time?
Tools planners can use: Action plan template, Gantt chart.
The Next Step: Monitoring your plan
Once an action plan has been determined, planners need to ask themselves: How will we monitor whether these activities, outputs, and objectives are accomplished? What kind of data will we collect in order to see whether we are improving our education quality and students’ learning outcomes? and, How and when will this information be collected and analysed? Click here for more information on Monitoring Learning.
For a more in-depth look at the education sector planning process, two helpful resources are the GPE/IIEP’s Guidelines for Education Sector Plan Preparation and IIEP’s Strategic Planning: Techniques and Methods. You can also learn more by reading our Plan for Learning articles and searching for resources in the IIEP Learning Portal Library.
Contributed by : Catherine Honeyman