Ani Magill, Headteacher at St John the Baptist School, Woking, has compiled almost 400 tips that could help you to improve your school. They are split into 5 groups: leadership; learning and teaching; achievement; behaviour; general.
Ani would like to remind you that you shouldn’t view the tips as a panacea for school improvement – they are simply ideas that have worked at St John the Baptist. Bearing this in mind, here are her general school improvement tips 358-376…
358. Invite the site team to student council meetings so they hear first hand of any concerns.
359. Have a green team or eco team of students to water plants etc.
360. Give staff time to clear up and improve the learning environment – cancel a staff meeting and give staff a list of jobs to do.
361. Don’t use the term ‘Caretaker’ – it’s outdated and implies a low level job. Premises Manager, Site Manager, Premises Director are much better.
362. Attach benches to the dining room walls so that students queuing for lunch can sit down and ‘shimmy’ along. Two schools told me this changed their lunchtime behaviour completely.
363. Play DVDs in hall/around school when it’s wet outside.
364. Ensure no-one working in the school is treated as a second-class citizen. In some schools the site staff aren’t allowed in the staffroom and aren’t invited to the Christmas party etc.
365. Get a member of the support staff to be responsible for displays. Remember a tatty display is worse than no display. What does your worst classroom look like? Do children deserve better?
366. Check your bill and contract for grounds maintenance – some schools pay £20,000 per year and only get the grass cut. Ensure one of the site team is responsible for the upkeep of the outside space.
367. Make sure that whenever the leadership team are on duty they carry a litter picker and bin bag. It guilts the students into dropping less. We’ve tried everything and it’s the one that has worked.
368. Make sure all visitors have a good experience – train reception staff well and give them feedback. I go to lots of schools and sometimes the receptionist doesn’t even look up.
369. Ensure that the first thing visitors see is positive and not, for example, a list of policies or a list of things students are not allowed to do. A large sign saying “Violence will not be tolerated” is not a great first impression.
370. Ask visitors to fill in a form when they leave – ‘Something you liked about our school and something you think we could improve upon’, include the question ‘Did we make you feel welcome?’
371. Have year photos – one formal one and one daft one – that way you don’t spend ages trying to do the formal one properly (do the formal one first though).
372. Have a rolling programme of re-decoration. Get a full time decorator/handyman, the right person can save you lots of money.
373. Share display resources within and between departments – it saves time. All of our science labs have some displays that are the same and adapted from the maths ones.
374. Who is in charge of your website? Make sure it’s updated every week.
375. Ensure that the school phone is answered promptly and by someone really friendly. You would be surprised how rarely this happens. Test your own school! Ring your school from home and see what the response is.
376. Watch the language used around school. Messages should never start with ‘DON’T’. A notice of ours saying ‘Students are forbidden on the roof’ resulted in many more students on the roof than before there was a sign. Try to start messages with ‘Thank you for remembering…’ ‘At JHS we respect the environment by putting litter in the bin.’
SSAT’s High Performance Leadership programme (in conjunction with NASA, HSBC and Phillips) launches on 17th October.
365 Ways to Improve Your School
Ani Magill, Headteacher at St John the Baptist School, Woking, has compiled almost 400 tips that could help you to improve your school. They are split into 5 groups: leadership; learning and teaching; achievement; behaviour; general. Read the entire series below: