What Makes an ‘Excellent’ School?

What Makes an ‘Excellent’ School?

Congratulations to Worth School on being classed as ‘excellent’ in your recent ISI inspection. No mean feat and the outcome of significant dedication and hard work across the entire school community. Reading the summary report from the inspectors led me to ponder, in the eyes of a parent, what makes an ‘excellent’ school?

In my opinion the Head comes first, closely followed by committed, well-qualified, inspirational teachers.

Solid leadership and a clear strategy for delivering clearly stated educational outcomes are vital. A charismatic, proactive Head who gains the trust of parents by their ability to enthuse both staff and pupils, to give of their best.

When it comes to teaching and learning, there should be clear evidence of imaginative, well-planned, diverse classroom activities, which engage and inspire children, encouraging and challenging every child to achieve their potential. We all recall inspirational teachers from our own school days and its usually those who thought a little outside the box that inspired a love of a subject.

How pupil progress is monitored and assessed is important, as well as how this is communicated to parents. Showing a willingness to listen and take prompt and appropriate action when things are not going to plan is essential. It’s surprising how many parents I talk to who are frustrated as they don’t feel they know how their child is progressing within their year-group or wider cohort of peers nationally. They either don’t understand how to read reports and interim grades effectively, or they don’t feel the school is communicating well enough, to keep them up to speed. Schools are busy, hectic places where everyone is rushed off their feet, focussed on supporting each child as an individual. In all this melee, communicating with and listening to parents is just as important a priority for an outstanding school.

Parents too must play their part. Embracing the ethos and values of a school, not seeking to change them, is paramount. We are fortunate to have a such a huge range of excellent schools to choose from. When choosing one for their child, parents should ensure that the school has an atmosphere in which their individual child will enjoy learning and hence thrive. Formal/informal, single-sex/co-ed, mixed ability/streaming, creative/scientific/sporty – matching your child to the right learning environment and opportunities is crucial.

When choosing a school, as well as reading inspection reports, a visit to the school gives a far better idea of all of the above. Schools are about people. The only way to really compare one with another is to visit on a normal school day, so you can look the Head in the eye, see teaching and learning in action – feel and observe the atmosphere for yourself.

For more information on how we can help you with choosing the right school for your child in the UK, see our school selection information or contact our team on consultants@independenteducationconsultants.co.uk