PREPARE: Create a clear implementation plan and judge the readiness of the school to deliver that plan

Having decided to implement a specific programme or practice, the focus turns to preparing the school and staff. This phase can be intensive, requiring a significant effort to ensure the school is in a position to deliver the new approach effectively. We have organised the recommendations as three interconnected sets of activities:

  1. Develop a clear, logical, and well-specified plan
  2. Assess the readiness of the school to deliver the implementation plan
  3. Practical preparations.

Having successfully tested the feasibility of retrieval practice at Bedlington Academy, Jo and Louise began preparing the school so that it had a good chance of success (see video above). The first step was to create a clear and logical Implementation Plan that set out:

  • why they were doing it;
  • what the intervention entailed;
  • how it would be implemented;
  • a means of knowing how well implementation was going;
  • and the final intended outcomes (and so?)

This was a collaborative exercise, and the resulting plan (LINK TO BEDLINGTON PLAN)is treated very much as a ‘living’ resource that is revisited and updated in light of new insights regarding implementation.

A key step in this process was defining what they felt were the active ingredients for retrieval practice - the essential practices and behaviours that they believed were needed to make it work. They ended up with five core practices, described in the What? column in their implementation plan. By doing so, the school developed:

  • a clear and shared understanding of what the practice entailed;
  • knowledge of where there was scope for adaptation across departments and classrooms i.e. where to be ‘tight’ and where to be ‘loose’;
  • a basis for designing Professional Development and other implementation activities (see below);
  • a way of monitoring whether the practice was being implemented as intended (see Deliver section).

Further information on what we mean by ‘active ingredients’, how to identify them, and ways in which they can be used to support implementation, is available in this supplementary summary (ADD LINK TO NEW ACTIVE INGREDIENTS SUMMARY). It also discusses the importance of fidelity (i.e. doing the approach as intended) and how to balance fidelity with thoughtful adaptation (i.e. contextualising the approach to your school or classroom).

In the video above, Jonathan Sharples outlines the value in sharply defining the nature of a new approach before implementing it.