How do you see education? What is the goal of education? What are important aspects of education? What do you think?
At your school: How are children viewed, in their role as learners? What aspects of learning are important?
What kind of education does your school provide? What is the role of the teacher, of the child, the material to be used, and material to be learned, in this view?
What kind of pedagogical climate does the school wish to achieve?
When I look through various school guides, I see certain recurring phrases: “We stimulate each child’s independence in learning…”, “We use the (explicit) direct instruction model”, “We value children’s creative, musical, and cultural development…”, “We think children should develop and employ their various talents in education…” and so on.
Very often, one reads something about the high expectations that the school has of the children, or how the child forms the heart of the educational plan, and how the school hopes to educate children so that they can function as autonomous adults in modern society.
When writing a policy plan, it is essential to start at this point: what is your own school’s vision regarding education? How does your school see the learning child? What is your school’s goal in educating children? How does your school want to achieve those goals?
Take a moment to think about these questions for yourself, and then look for the school’s vision. It might be found on the school’s webpage, or in the school guide. It might be posted on the school walls, or maybe even something that is brought to attention on a regular basis during school meetings.
Wherever you find the school’s vision of education described, make a note of it. Then, decide what the core concepts are described in the school’s vision. Make sure to note these clearly for yourself, as you’ll be referring back to these as you write the rest of the policy plan.
For example: if your school endorses “independent learning”, it will be important to hold the various aspects of the English program up to this light. To what degree do teachers allow space for “independent learning” during their lessons? Does the material used, including textbooks and digital material, provide space for “independent learning”? Do the children actually get the time to work independently during or outside of the lessons?
Also, look for the ambition of the school. What does the school hope to achieve with its English program? What language skills does the school consider important in the program? For instance, is it the goal that children are confident with conversing in English with strangers, or should they be able to read and write in the language as well? Are the goals described in terms of the Common European Framework of Reference, or in other terms? Is there any information about ambitions related to internationalisation or international projects?
However the goals are defined, it’s important to make a note of these, so that when you’re writing the policy plan, you can keep these goals in mind. Again, in terms of teacher- and material-related variables, but also in terms of planning for and tracking achievement.
In conclusion, start with the basics. Describe the school vision regarding learning in general, and where possible regarding the English program. Decide what the core concepts of this vision are and highlight these. Then, define the ambition of the school, including levels for the various skills areas and internationalisation where applicable. You’ll be referring back to this in the rest of your writing.
Next time, we’ll focus on describing the present-day situation of the school