Implementing a whole-school strategy

Written by: Josie Gallagher | Published:
Photo: iStock

Members of the school leadership team are often challenging to implement whole-school strategies. Josie Gallagher outlines the four key principles that will help your implementation plan to succeed

When I started on the Teaching Leaders Fellows programme, I was head of performing arts looking after three subject areas – music, dance and drama.

I was also a newly appointed associate assistant principal with responsibility for the whole-school reward scheme.

This scheme is where the idea for my Teaching Leaders Impact Initiative has come from. I wanted to use the online rewards scheme to improve achievement and attendance with a particular focus on year 10 and year 11 English and mathematics.

Below, I have outlined the four key principles I used as a framework when developing and implementing a new whole-school impact plan.

Share your vision

As I was sitting in a session at the Teaching Leaders Fellows residential, I can remember thinking that the ethos which Teaching Leaders creates is a culture of investment.

My cohort was encouraged to share a vision, to find your way, and to get others to buy in to your ideas. I also attended workshops with others, sharing ideas and working collaboratively.

This gave me the skills to really think about how I was going to share my vision for the online rewards scheme with staff back at school.

I spoke at staff briefings and at assemblies to introduce the vision and how it could work. I asked staff for their ideas, using Edward de Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” technique to find out what staff thought about the scheme.

Pupils were also asked for their input so they too felt they were being heard. Now, I promote the rewards scheme on the school’s website with its own dedicated page. I upload data of the highest achievers, form groups, and photographs to celebrate their success. If they don’t buy in, then it won’t work. Know your audience!

Know your allies

Straight from the offset, I started to make a list of the people I knew would instantly want to get on board as I could predict that they would see how beneficial it was to the pupils.

Then I strategically approached those who, in departmental meetings, like to agree or disagree depending on whatever is “on trend” at the time.

I spoke to individuals and used the coaching skills I have been developing as a Teaching Leaders fellow to ask them their opinion about pros and cons of the scheme.

I asked them what they thought would make it easier for staff and how pupils would respond in the first instance. The responses I got were very useful as some staff felt they could share their ideas without being judged by others.

Luckily, I also anticipated the “blockers” – the staff who felt that more work was being created for them and could not see the benefits at all, for themselves or for the pupils. I addressed their concerns in training and briefings, and during one-to-one conversations. I showed them exactly how to use the online scheme and how easy it was to navigate from their own page to rewarding pupils.

Invest in CPD

Training is very important when introducing something new. Staff need to know things will benefit them and, most importantly, impact positively on pupils.

I delivered whole-school training and created cluster groups who could train others in departments as “go-to experts”. These staff members used this as an opportunity to develop their CPD by using it as a performance management target.

I also worked with the heads of English and mathematics so they could train staff in their departments and monitor progress. This also helped me to evaluate how the rewards scheme was raising achievement within these areas.

I created subject area reports and discussed the findings with the relevant people. I also trained staff to do this for their own departments so they started to take ownership.

Share responsibility

When starting my Impact Initiative I felt very protective of what I was creating. Like anything you start, at times you want to steer it, not wanting others to direct.

For initiatives to work, collaboration is the key to success. Listen to others, share ideas, take on board the ideas of others, use ideas, give credit where credit is due, and remember you are only as good as your team.

As the project has developed, so too have the directors. Heads of department and pastoral leaders play a pivotal role in the direction of the reward scheme. They, with input from staff, pupils and tutors, decide how to use the rewards scheme and what pupils should be rewarded for. This works, as they all buy into it.

Build relationships with parents – I sent out letters to parents introducing the initiative and how they can monitor their child’s account with the online rewards scheme. During a parental engagement evening for year 11 parents to learn how to support their child with examination techniques, I promoted the rewards scheme and received some very positive feedback. Due to its success, I will repeat this for the new year 11 cohort this year.
Impact so far

After the first year, I believe the scheme has been a success. I know this through the use of pupil voice; pupils will let me know if things are not working. Staff have used the rewards scheme to support pupils to make progress in all subjects, which will further develop this academic year.

Staff also let me know what is working and what needs to be improved. In some departments, competitions have been created by the project’s leads. I reward staff during staff briefings and via email. I look at the data and see who is using all categories, which staff have made the most progress or ask pupils to nominate staff who are promoting the rewards in lessons. I hope I am creating a culture of aspiration and one which celebrates success.

Final words

When implementing a whole-school scheme, remember who you are working for and what you are trying to achieve. Young people only get one chance at school so let’s make it worth their while.

  • Josie Gallagher is acting assistant principal with responsibility for key stage 5 at Halewood Academy in Knowsley. She is part of the 2014 cohort on the Teaching Leaders Fellows programme.

Teaching Leaders

Teaching Leaders is a middle leadership development programme for high-potential middle leaders, working in schools in challenging contexts. Applications are now open. Visit


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