For a club to operate effectively it will need to set priorities and to plan appropriate ways to achieve them. Planning needs to take account of a number of competing considerations These include:

  • The range of members’ interests
  • The agreed significance of particular issues
  • Deadlines for particular activities or responses on particular issues
  • Availability of particular opportunities or temporary circumstances which can be used to advantage, e.g. running a BBQ or cake stall if your school is used as a polling booth.

Planning cycles

It is useful to consider planning and evaluation as an on-going process of cycles. The Annual General Meeting represents a peak moment, providing an opportunity to review progress on the past year’s priorities and to re-focus priorities for the following year. It provides an opportunity for members to review what the Club has actually been doing and to consider what it should be doing. In fact, much of the thinking required for planning for the following year will already have been undertaken in the preparation of reports for the Annual General Meeting.

Shorter cycles of planning and evaluation can also be used to track progress on key priorities. The interval between each meeting will have provided some opportunity for progress. Any action on one of the club’s chosen priorities holds lessons for what needs to be done next.

Building and growing

To be most effective, planning needs to take into account the fact that the club learns as it proceeds, and operates in a ‘moving landscape’. It will need to take account of new issues and debates in education and school governance as they arise. Priorities seen as the most important at the start of a planning cycle may not have the same significance six months later if the situation has changed, or members have developed a new understanding of the issues

Planning needs to be flexible. Priorities and planning should not be seen as developing a ‘blueprint’ for the year. Rather they should be thought of as a port of destination on a voyage. Once you have embarked reaching the port requires continuous navigation. Much of the responsibility for this ‘navigation’ falls to the office bearers who are continuously required to balance the need to respond to immediate circumstances with the need to work towards longer term goals and priorities.