4 Planning for the use of resources

Having conducted your audit, you should plan for the utilisation of resources in a more systematic way, so that there is a good chance of enhanced learning through improved use of resources by the teachers and the students in your school. A plan does not have to tackle every category of resource or every year group: it may be about a specific initiative, like the introduction of field trips as mentioned in Case Study 2, or to address a particular concern you have about a particular aspect of the curriculum or student learning. It could be staggered over time, or delegated amongst your staff team. The Case Study 2 showed how one school leader approached her plan. You will now start to plan for your own school setting.

Activity 7: Imagining your end goal

Good planning first looks at your end goal. Imagine what your school would look like if you, your students and your staff used most of the available but unused resources in your lists in designing and creating their learning. Describe this scenario in your Learning Diary.

You may, for example, imagine such scenarios as ‘The students bring in stories from their grandparents and develop them into a class book which results in them extending their use of language and their heritage’, or ‘Students make musical instruments from tin cans, leading to an understanding of how different sounds can be produced’. Make sure that your examples focus on the learning outcomes for the students rather than the actual resources. You could share this scenario with the people who volunteered to help you with the planning activity.


This will be a very individual scenario. You may focus on the whole school or on specific details. You may have identified a ‘quick win’ in your school where you could introduce a new approach to educational resources – like the school leader in the case study who set up field trips as part of each class’s learning experience.

Backward planning is a way of creating a plan based on the end goal (Elmore, 1979). When you are working backwards from a goal, think about the skills, attitudes and motivation of every stakeholder who will be a part of the plan. Consider the notes below, made by a school leader before they planned the introduction of a visitors’ programme at the school.

Goal: To establish a visitors’ programme such that at least six visitors for each class (IX, X, XI and XII) are invited to school to speak about their profession and relate it to the content of the syllabus.


  1. Teachers
  2. Students
  3. Parents or guardians
  4. Office staff
  5. Support staff

The role of the teacher is to:

  • identify the professions that relate to the content of the syllabus
  • discuss with the visitor what the syllabus includes and what the visitor may discuss with the students
  • prepare students to think of what they would like to know more about
  • prepare students with the skills of thanking the visitor appropriately
  • give the students the opportunity to apply their learning from the visit.

The role of the student is to:

  • help to identify appropriate people they know to visit the school
  • identify what they already know and what they would like to know more about from the visitor
  • host the visitor appropriately
  • apply the information learned from the visitor and discuss it further with peers and their teacher after the visit.

It is important to take a whole-school approach to the use of resources with all staff and stakeholders involved, not only in the use of resources but also in the maintenance and care of resources. In the scenario above, where visitors come to the school, it is important, for example, that all staff (not just teachers) are aware of the visitor’s reasons for being there, that they are greeted appropriately and have a good impression of the school. A visitor is a valuable resource and should be treated with as much care as a physical resource. Case Study 3 takes another resource, books, to consider how the school manages it to maximise its use and reach.

Case Study 3: Making the most of a donation of books

The school had received almost 100 books as a donation. The books lay in packing cases in the office for a month. The school leader called a special meeting of staff to share his idea about how to use this resource. To him, it was a shame that the books were available but unread. He suggested that 25 books could be distributed to each class so that each student would be able to read a different book each month, over the year.

The teachers agreed that it was a good idea, but appeared reluctant to adopt it. The school leader interpreted his staff’s reluctance to mean that they did not see the advantages of reading and were feeling worried that they would be held responsible for the loss of the books. He then addressed the students at assembly and suggested they come up with a system to implement his idea.

The following week, the school leader put up a notice offering the choice of any of the books to the student who could come up with the solution. That seemed to have an impact! A group of girls came up to him with their plan. He worked on the plan with them, and then shared it with his staff. Two staff members volunteered to support the girls. They spoke with the local printer and soon some stick-on labels were sent to the school office. The girls worked together with the staff members, and soon the books were catalogued in four notebooks.

The school leader then announced the system in the assembly and praised his students for the solution; he also handed them the books they had chosen as their prize. He said they had worked it out really simply – the first 24 students who wanted to read would get the books first. After a month, they would have to return the books, along with a brief description of what they liked about the book, but without giving away the story. Each month, some time would be assigned to the students to talk about the book they had read to the other students. The teacher would then ‘issue’ the books to the next 24 students, each of whom would write the date and their name on the page in the notebooks.

One of the students raised his hand hesitantly to ask what the consequence would be of losing a book or failing to return it. The school leader said he had discussed this with the staff group and spoken with a librarian in the big school. The solution in most libraries, he had found, was for the student to replace a lost book, pay for its repair, if damaged, and pay a fine if returned late. The students agreed that this was acceptable, and the system was put into place.

Over two years, the headteacher managed to get more donations of books. Reading had become common practice; and the class libraries were exchanged every six months between classes.

Activity 8: Reflecting on developing resource systems

This case study illustrates a system that needed to be put in place to ensure a resource was able to be used effectively by all students to support their learning. Spend some time thinking about what you can learn from this case study by answering the following questions:

  • What aspects of the school leader’s leadership enabled the system to be successfully introduced?
  • If you had been the school leader in this scenario, what arguments would you have used to persuade the teachers of the value of this resource and therefore introducing a system to use it?
  • What resources in your own context require a system to ensure they are distributed and used effectively for learning? Does the system currently work? What improvements to the system could you make?


The books in Case Study 3 were a much under-used resource in this school and it needed someone to take the initiative to mobilise it for wider use. This is a good example of collaborative planning around resource management. Did you notice how the students were also involved in solving the problem? There is a skill in turning your staff and students into becoming solution providers with you (rather than just identifying problems). With some creative thinking and organisation, you and your staff will begin to access more resources to improve the educational outcomes of your students.

The school leader in the scenario established a library system that encouraged donors to give more books to the school, as it was apparent that the resources were well used and benefited the students. It was important that time was allocated each month for students to discuss the books, because by making it part of the curriculum, and sharing their experiences through discussion, the books could contribute more significantly to learning than if they had just been loaned out.

3 Using resources to their full potential for learning

5 Resources that need funding