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 leadership tips 69-91…
69. Send a personalised welcome letter home to each new year 7 student.
70. Most people don’t read the prospectus but they do look at the photos. Small ones don’t work; have a look at yours, what are the key messages? Are the photos of smiling children in perfect uniform? Save money – give the prospectus out as a QR code or USB stick on a wristband.
71. Download the think pieces on leadership from the National College website and other places (eg TED.com) and discuss in leadership team meetings – how can we improve our school as a result of this reading?
72. Build time to reflect into the meeting calendar. It’s important to take time out to lift your head above the parapet.
73. If you are struggling to recruit, bite your tongue and get in touch with your local independent school – they are often very generous in their support.
74. If you are really stuck for staff ask the part-timers to teach extra lessons when they are in school and give them their non-contact time on their days off.
75. Have a word for the year which is a mnemonic for what your priorities are (an example I saw but don’t advocate was BALLS – Boys, Achievement, Literacy, Languages and Science. It doesn’t make a great poster in the reception area)
76. Ensure you have non-school conversations with at least three children every day.
77. Take sweets/chocolate/fruit round to your break duty team. A really positive way of checking everyone is in the right place.
78. The majority of schools deal with staff being absent. Try to change your thinking to ‘why are people off sick?’ The more pressure we put staff under, the higher the absence rate, so we need to do everything possible to minimise stress on staff and as a consequence improve attendance. If a member of staff is frequently off, make sure you follow up every single time and make a big deal of it.
79. Try to run your school so that it follows the maxim of “high challenge with low stress”. Provide as many facilities as you can to support staff and, in doing so, enable them to focus on the quality of what happens in the classroom.
80. Consider providing services that staff find difficult to organise during a busy week. Internet shopping delivery, dry cleaning, sports clubs, reduced membership for golf or health clubs, car valeting, discounts for local restaurants, cheap MOTs, having cars collected and returned to school, fetching prescriptions etc. All the stuff we can’t get done during the school day. Our most popular is Amazon parcel delivery.
81. The teacher’s job is to teach planned good lessons all day, so make this the school’s number one priority. In my experience very few schools do although they all say they do.
82. Minimise the paperwork; bin the stuff yourself rather than putting someone else’s name on the top and passing it on.
83. Ensure the first and last message a student receives is positive. Be on the gate in the morning and evening giving the positive messages.
84. Don’t ask staff to do anything that disappears into a black hole – filling in unnecessary bits of paper or spreadsheets/data collections.
85. Find a system to minimise emails – especially ones that are sent to everyone. Always start the subject box with ‘DELETE if you don’t teach year 11’ etc. Better still, don’t send it in the first place.
86. Give out post-its at staff meetings and ask staff to write down a few things that would make their working life easier – you will find out things you didn’t know about eg ‘my laptop doesn’t work’ or ‘I haven’t got a lockable cupboard.’
87. Ban emails at the weekend and remind anyone who breaks the rule.
88. Ensure that the staff are handed a cup of tea or coffee as soon as they go to the staffroom at breaks, also provide fruit and a water machine free.
89. Make sure staff toilets are really clean and not something that looks the same as it did when the school was built in the 1960s that doubles as a storage cupboard for the PTA cups.
90. Nothing winds staff up more than being unable to park when they arrive at school (and visitors for that matter). Can everyone park easily?
91. Make at least one of the PM targets about work/life balance or something they are going to achieve outside work.
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: