Becoming an Outstanding School...
Updated: May 19
There isn’t a single formula to get your school to outstanding, but there are some key pointers which can help you on the way!
Get the staff on board
There is no such thing as a ‘Super Head’! Schools improve by strong team effort where everyone feels ownership of it. This means empowering your middle and senior leadership so they are all moving together and helping staff make things happen. So start with sharing a vision for the school with the staff and allow them their say in it all. Using training days to explore what a great school looks like can help, so you have an overarching vision everyone has been able to discuss.
Then training your senior staff and middle leaders on their roles in supporting staff and leading teams is vital. Train them in effective use of data and supportive lesson observations so they can provide support and help where it is needed. A collegiate and supportive culture often comes from the top, so a great Head will model this.
Empowering students and parents
The same ideas go with your other stakeholders. Train student leaders and help them invest in their school. Taking them off site for a few days of leadership training can bring dividends. Empower them with the idea of service and what they can do
Leadership at all levels
At my last school - Haileybury - I worked to ensure leadership awards and opportunities were available at all levels. Staff attended courses with UCL in London, and were trained in coaching skills, leadership of teams and performance management. Then for students, there was a Junior Award for Primary, awards based in the middle and upper school, with older students able to work on accredited leadership awards from Duke of Edinburgh to other national awards. There were many to chose from including Sports Leadership, Language Leadership, Asdan Awards, and we even created our own Haileybury Leadership Award. So we were not only training and encouraging staff and parents to help and serve, but the ethos was slowly spread to the student body as well. I have engaged staff to work on this in two schools which have both achieved the highest levels of achievement. Haileybury in Astana was rated as having outstanding international practice in 17 out of 19 areas and CATS Canterbury was rated as Excellent in every category in its Independent School Inspection.
Investing in staff and students alike brings amazing dividends and drives a school to being an institution where people feel valued and supported. Excellence is inevitably the end result, where everyone values education and strives to make it the best it can possibly be.
Of course, this is not the whole story, but it’s one element of an important thread that often flows though outstanding schools - they have leadership at all levels and are committed to the ideal of service.