A five-year pilot study by a team of Southern Cross University researchers has identified what makes an ‘outstanding’ school.
The study was undertaken in response to schools that are under pressure from governments to improve their teaching and learning performance.
The researchers concluded that four key elements were at the heart of creating and sustaining the ‘outstanding’ school:
- A principal who had the drive, determination and personal leadership capacity to ‘sell the idea’ and then provide the required and ongoing direction for staff for the duration of the project. In the early stages, to be able to ‘cop the flack’ that yet another change program was more workload for the busy classroom teacher.
- Distributed team based leadership: an arrangement that enabled teachers to work together in teaching teams to be able to deal with the vast range and scope of students and their individual learning needs in each classroom. Further, this arrangement appeared to focus teachers to key classroom matters and away from the various distractions that traditional top-down school leadership tended to manifest.
- Data driven decision-making: each teaching team was provided with regular data on their teaching and learning progress and this was presented in ways that enabled teachers to make informed teaching decisions for each student. Performance benchmarks for every student were set and teachers worked as a team to achieve them. This arrangement created an environment where teachers began to become educational researchers themselves, posing questions and then researching answers to further their work in classrooms.
- An intensive and ongoing coaching, mentoring and feedback regime: each teacher regularly underwent teaching observations and was then coached and mentored by accomplished teachers. Poor teaching performance was identified, and through coaching and mentoring it was improved.
The results have been published in the book, ‘Creating the Outstanding School’ which explains a set of ideas and research-based strategies that schools and their teachers could employ to reform their school.
[img source] claudio vieira (CCA2.0).
The above story is based on materials provided by the Southern Cross University.