How can school leaders create an action plan that actually makes a difference?

Having written numerous action plans throughout my school leadership experience, I firmly believe that they should be more than simply a box-checking exercise. Action planning is a necessary part of creating a common framework for developing a school vision and shared language – especially if a clear and shared structure can be used. 

When one of our Hero Consultants, Cara, showed me the new National Education and Learning Priorities (NELP) document at the end of last year, I immediately wondered if there was a way to capture this as an action plan/annual plan template.

The NELP framework is now a statutory document and is a useful tool for school boards to understand how their school should be structuring their planning and reporting. When aligned with the new ERO review process, NELP will provide school leaders, especially those who are new to the role, with a great guide to whole-school planning.

So, the team and I set about creating an action plan template based on the sections of the NELP:

  1. Learners at the Centre

  2. Barrier Free Access

  3. Quality Teaching and Leadership

  4. Future of Learning and Work

The final version of the template that we created can be customised and downloaded from the Hero website.

A Template for Action-Planning:

One of the challenges with any kind of planning is turning the written word into meaningful action. Having a clear and consistent structure for all action plans is a good starting point. Keep it simple and achievable – small actions with clear metrics are likely to be much more effective than larger, more general actions. An action such as “Increase parent engagement” is unlikely to succeed unless it is broken down into smaller, measurable steps.

When designing action plan templates for the Hero website, the team and I used a simple table that has 4 columns:

Image by: LINC-ED Hero

This basically translates into:

What will be done?


Who by?

How will we measure it?

We took the actions set out in the NELP document and built out some examples of how schools can make use of Hero to bring these actions to life. It was fabulous to see just how much of the document aligned with Hero and how we aim to support student learning.

How to Use This Template:

Visit the NELP page on the Hero website. You can simply read through the content that we have created by clicking each action on the page, or download a word copy of the action plan. When you select the “Download an action plan” button, you will be given some options:

  1. Add your school name

  2. Uncheck any actions that are not applicable to your school this year

  3. Download the file

Once you have downloaded the resource, I suggest working through this with your leadership team to assign dates and responsibilities to each action. Decide on a date to review each section so that progress can be maintained. Sharing the action plan with the board is an essential part of the process so that they can build their own understanding of the NELP document.

Did you find this resource useful? We have a series of action plans that all use the same template for different aspects of making the most of Hero. Visit this page to explore these plans.

For more information about Hero, contact our team here! 

Paul Sibson is the co-founder and CTO of Linc Technologies and the Hero product. Originally a school principal, with a Masters in IT in Education, Paul is passionate about keeping schools relevant and compliant via integrated digital solutions, whilst ensuring student learning remains at the forefront.