Good Schools – What Prevents Them from Being Outstanding?

2 Minutes to Read -

Good Schools - What doe it take to make them Outstanding

As parents, most of us dream that our children will achieve their full potential at school.  We want their education to be OUTSTANDING!!

What if your child’s school is not outstanding? Would you be able to pin-point what is missing and perhaps challenge the school’s short-comings?

Almost nine years ago, Ofsted published a seminal report entitled ‘’Twenty Outstanding Primary Schools Excelling against the Odds’’.  It was aimed at providing a blue print which primary school leaders could use to make their schools outstanding. Despite the passage of time, its findings remain extremely relevant today.

The report chronicled the achievements of twenty primary schools from across the UK that were able to become, and remain, outstanding despite being based in largely deprived areas. Pupils at those schools ranged from those from highly dysfunctional families to those who were receiving free school meals.

On paper these schools should struggle to be outstanding.  However the report‘s author, Christine Gilbert, tackles this head on ‘It is no longer acceptable to use a child’s background as an excuse for underachievement. The challenge for schools is to make a difference. Schools know and try to do this; some are more successful than others’.

By exploring the twenty schools’ recipe for success, OFSTED aimed to discover:

  • How they became outstanding
  • How they remained outstanding
  • Where they went from there

In return, it was hoped that schools who are not yet outstanding would , after reading the report, ask themselves ‘’How can we do it too?’’

So what makes a school outstanding? According to the report, the key characteristics of an outstanding school are:

  • They teach children the things they really need to know and show them how to learn for themselves and with others.
  • They give them opportunities, responsibility and trust in an environment which is both stimulating and humanising.
  • They build – and often rebuild – children’s self-belief.
  • They build bridges with parents, families and communities, working in partnership with other professionals.
  • They listen to their pupils, value their views and reflect and act on what they say.
  • They provide affection, stability and a purposeful and structured experience.
  • They ensure their pupils progress as fast as possible and achieve as much as possible (outperforming both similar schools and many with fewer challenges).
  • In short, they put the child at the centre of everything they do, and high aspirations, expectations and achievement underpin the schools’ work.

Although the report is almost 9 years old, like any classic recipe, it stands the test of time.  Hopefully more schools, with support from parents, will adopt this approach to enable them to provide an outstanding education which should be a right and not a privilege.

Want to know more? 

The report discussed in this article is aimed primarily at school leaders but it is also useful for parents. It gives a very useful insight into how children can succeed regardless of their personal circumstances. It enables you to know what to expect from your child’s school and helps you to see how you can contribute to your child’s educational success. Parents of children from the twenty featured schools articulate the very important role the school plays in their children’s education.

Please let me know your thoughts.

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