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5 4 Who else is involved with successful schools?

Activity 5.1 Activity 9 What makes a successful school?

0 hours 30 minutes


What, in your opinion, makes a ‘successful school’? Jot down a list of factors that you consider to be essential ingredients of such a description.

What do we mean when we use the term ‘a successful school’? For an overwhelming majority of parents and carers, this would suggest a school in which there is evenly distributed progress in learning, a plentiful array of examination successes and a purposeful community in which their own children are happy and developing into socially aware, responsible young adults. Successful schools in England are termed ‘effective’ schools by Ofsted.

Such an educational environment requires at its core good working and interpersonal relationships between subject teachers and pupils and between teachers-as-tutors and pupils. Sammons et al. (1994) have identified eleven key factors which could be seen as characterising successful and thus effective schools. The factors identified centred to a large degree on core areas of pupil-teacher work in classrooms. Among those they cited as key factors or processes were:

  • maximising teaching and learning time;

  • focused, flexible teaching;

  • high expectations of pupils;

  • positive reinforcement and effective monitoring of pupil progress;

  • an orderly and attractive learning environment.

The enactment of pupil rights and responsibilities by staff was also identified as demonstrating success. The ‘staff’ of a school are not only those who are extensively qualified subject specialists in classrooms and fully employed at the school. The growing wider work-force in schools includes, amongst others, assistants, librarians, supply and office colleagues, site management staff, peripatetic staff, parent-helpers and staff who cover lunch-time activities or other duties

School governors, education welfare officers and careers officers are others who extend key aspects of a school's support and information structures, and contribute tangibly to the personal and educational dimensions of a school on a regular basis. The governing body of a school has a particular responsibility to oversee the provision of quality education, the proper use of monies in the school budget, inclusion aspects of school life, and health and safety issues, amongst others, across the school site. Careers officers provide information and advice about careers routes and further or higher education possibilities; this aspect is often part of a tutorial programme in schools which frequently begins during year 9. Teaching assistants are taking on extended professional development and in-class responsibilities. It is planned that their role will be transformed in the near future and you are advised to monitor changes through your partner schools.

Add to these inputs those made by representatives of multi-faith organisations, pastoral care and health agencies, global and other aid agencies, photographers, writers, artists, scientists, representatives of the armed services, and some sense of the multifaceted dimensions of support for the development of any school's extended set of endeavours starts to emerge. You need to appreciate at this early stage the high number of professionals and wider work force adults who have a role in pupils' lives and who contribute to the creation and development of a successful school.