This week Opportunity EduFinance has been running an Introductory Seminar in Kampala, Uganda bringing 48 new schools into its Education Quality programme. A further 42 will be inducted in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania next week adding to the 800 schools Opportunity's Education Quality programme already serves. For these seminars one of the key areas of focus is Pathways to Excellence.
Pathways to Excellence (P2E) is a guide for school development planning which was developed and launched by Opportunity EduFinance in 2017. This school improvement tool serves to stimulate discussion within a school, and light the path towards improved educational outcomes for young people. Produced by Opportunity EduFinance, with input from over sixteen education experts and subject specialists from around the world, P2E brings together both local and international perspectives in defining pathways to providing high-quality education. The main P2E guide is aimed at Primary and Secondary schools. However, this year Opportunity EduFinance has also developed a P2E Early Childhood Education supplement for pre-Primary schools which is being distributed to schools in the next few weeks.
Pathways to Excellence recognises that all schools are unique, while sharing the common objective of providing an excellent education within their local community. P2E is designed for schools to self-assess against an inclusive framework across thirty-one educational ‘domains’, no matter the starting point. Domains include topics such as; school culture, school environment, teaching and learning resources, teaching methodologies, teacher professional development, teacher retention, management of a school, child centred learning, early childhood education, behaviour management, and child protection.
Rather than presenting a standard to reach, Pathways to Excellence offers support to schools in developing their own pathway to school improvement with a 5-point scale to take them from one level to the next at their own pace. P2E guides school leaders through the domains resulting in a self-assessment that helps them to decide which two or three areas of improvement they want to focus on in the coming year. Schools then create a School Development Plan to map out how they will realistically achieve this. Each of the P2E thirty-one domains also has a library of resources for schools to access to help them achieve their school improvement goals.
Charles is the Head Teacher of a large primary school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He commented that the training and support he has received from Opportunity EduFinance has completely changed him:
“The Pathways to Excellence book and school development planning process has opened up my eyes to new and inclusive ways of working towards education quality improvement in my school. It has made me a different person as a leader, and has also highlighted new areas for improvement that the school needs to focus on. Plus, I can share strategies and ideas with other school leaders through the cluster meetings. Opportunity’s Education Quality programme is changing schools for the better.”
Schools using P2E are continuously supported by Opportunity EduFinance’s Education Specialists – a team of local education experts with many years teaching and education experience. They support the schools in face to face trainings, group sessions in small ‘clusters’ of 4-12 schools, and individual school visits providing feedback and support every step of the way.
Opportunity EduFinance is currently working with over 800 schools in 6 countries towards improved education quality. Opportunity looks at innovative ways to support Affordable Private Schools providing tools, support and resources to achieve their goals. P2E and school development planning has opened doors to these schools, often presenting them with ideas they have not been exposed to before to help them improve the education they provide to children in their local communities.
Jonathan Renaudon-Smith, Opportunity EduFinance’s Director of Education Quality, is excited by the possibilities and learnings that P2E will bring:
“The ‘Pathways to Excellence’ school development planning tool aims to bring an international maturity framework together with a local flavour. We hope that schools will make decisions about their own priorities and interpretations of the standards and accept that we are seeking to challenge as well as to share thinking about best practices. We are already beginning to see extremely encouraging indicators of positive whole school developments that will enhance the ‘conditions for learning’ needed for genuine innovations to take root and learning outcomes to improve.”