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365 ways to improve your school – leadership (92-113)

header-banner-929ani-magillAni 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 92-113…

92. Get staff to order some free sweets on aquarterof.com at low points during the year.

93. Make a big deal out of staff marriages, engagements, babies. It cheers everyone up. Put photos in the newsletter and on notice boards, VLE etc.

94. Provide some breakfast at those low points during the year, or put mini bars of chocolate in everyone’s pigeon hole.

95. Have strict rules on meetings – how long are they/what’s the purpose/do the children get a better deal as a result of the meeting? Ban meetings longer than an hour.

96. If you have space, have two areas in the staffroom, one with ICT and one that has no evidence of work where people can relax – make sure the notice boards etc look good and are up to date. Put photos up of staff enjoying themselves, not ICT policies.

97. Ensure no-one in the school has reward power. This means they have something others want and creates a culture where you have to creep around that person to get it. Examples of this are the network manager, the site manager, the person in charge of reprographics etc. This can cause staff huge stress.

98. Send flowers home to staff who have done something additional to – organising the school play is a good example.

99. Use governors, parents and support staff to go on trips – it saves cover and they enjoy it.

100. If you can find the money, reduce the teaching load of teachers with lots of exam classes – like business studies teachers – even one lesson a fortnight buys them a bit of breathing space.

101. Use support staff as form tutors as much as possible and give key staff that time during the day to chase students. Eg head of maths, English, science and PE etc.

102. Make sure that all systems are really simple and quick to use eg accessing the report system from home and ensuring it is pre-populated with as much data as possible and has a spell check facility, Even better, scrap reports and spend time preparing great lessons.

103. Ensure the timetable is the best it can be for staff and make sure that more than one person can write it so that it can be checked for improvements. One school I supported had its entire year 11 maths lessons last thing in the day – madness! Also check to see that the timetable is good for individual teachers so they have a good spread of their free periods, not all on one day. Don’t let the timetabler have power (if they have, you will hear them say… oh that can’t be done!). A really good timetable makes a huge difference.

104. If a teacher doesn’t have a base then get all the other teachers in the department who do have a base to move out of their room for one class – that way at least all your lessons with a particular class are in the same room.

105. Have a whole school trip. Give ten choices (student-led). Charge everyone £10. We sent 900 to Thorpe Park and four to Wisley Garden Centre. Top tip – don’t volunteer to go paint-balling – I still have the bruises!

106. Have a leadership focus in all line-management meetings – don’t just make them about day-to-day issues. Try to be developmental with your teams.

107. Go on a regular learning walk with HODs whom you line manage. Look at the climate for learning in their departments and praise but also offer any constructive/developmental feedback that you can.

108. Read. Have a look on the DfE website once a week, even for just ten minutes. Keep up-to-speed on new developments and learn what is fluff and what is really important.

109. Keep your eyes open to what is out there (best practice in other schools) and what is coming your way (government reforms/initiatives/fund-raising opportunities) – as well as talking to colleagues, using websites, Twitter feeds, Headteachers Digest etc.

110. Have a brief starter in HODs meetings to introduce new ideas that may benefit all departments. It is good to get a new HOD to do this to boost their confidence and profile.

111. Sign your aspiring middle and senior leaders onto courses with the National College. As well as improving their practice, it boosts the culture of learning at the school. Invite them to discuss their findings or projects at HODs/HOYs/SLT meetings.

112. Make sure all new HODs have a buddy who is an experienced HOD/SLT and make time for them to meet every week for the first term.

113. Have fortnightly meetings with all those you line manage and plan them well to hold people to account.


SSAT’s High Performance Leadership programme (in conjunction with NASA, HSBC and Phillips) launches on 17th October.

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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:

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365 ways to improve your school – leadership (69-91)

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