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365 ways to improve your school (377-395)

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 general school improvement tips 377-395…

377. Design a really nice school card that you can use for lots of different things. It’s personal and promotes the school (remember to make them small so you don’t have to write too much to fill them).

378. Research shows that a personally-written note is the most appreciated form of thanks. Have some cards and write/post notes of thanks to people. Emails aren’t as powerful.

379. Try texting or phoning those who are persistently late at about 8am to make sure they are up.

380. Have a phone in school that can’t be traced – hard to reach parents will often not pick up when they see the school number.

381. Minimise the letters you send home – texting, twitter and email are much better these days eg “Looking forward to seeing you at parents’ evening at 4pm!”

382. Have a “You said… we did” board to follow up from surveys etc. It gives feedback and shows you have listened. Same in the staffroom.

383. Letters that go home must be word perfect. It’s not okay to say “we sent 200 letters home and there were only two mistakes.” Some parents only have one child and if their name is incorrectly spelled, it suggests that you don’t care about their child. Most schools have someone on the support staff who is a good proof reader. You could also ask for a volunteer – especially if the letters go home in different languages. Don’t use jargon or words that alienate parents from the school. I saw a report where a child was graded for AfL with no explanation of what it stands for.

384. Find ways to get the staff to come to the staffroom eg cover in only one place, free coffee, free fruit, free cake, a whiteboard with the day’s important notices. It creates more team spirit and digs people out of their cubbyholes.

385. Don’t give staff bits of paper to fill in eg INSET evaluation or if you must, send them a survey via SurveyMonkey. Get feedback all the time but keep it simple eg put a flip chart up for anyone to write ‘what worked well’, ‘even better if…’

386. Find ways to involve the staff in the future direction of the school without creating extra work for them. Have a staff meeting on the development plan – get staff to sign up to one section they are interested in and brainstorm ideas of how the school could move forward in that area. Or, put a whiteboard in the staffroom and ask for staff to add ideas.

387. Make sure there are email distribution lists for everything you need already set eg HOYs, HODs, year 7, class lists, support staff, teachers of year 8.

388. Get the student council to award teachers for the best classroom/learning environment every half-term. Buy an Oscar ‘gong’ to be presented in assembly.

389. When you appoint a teacher, get all the students in the class to grade the lesson – ‘Did you enjoy the lesson?’, ‘Would this teacher push you?’, ‘Would you like this teacher to work here?’ In my experience the students don’t get it wrong.

390. Give the students an email address ‘ideas for improvement@… ’ where they can send ideas, suggestions or comments.

391. Sit a big group of students from across the school – say 60 – in the hall, and all staff, and do a session on things you think could be improved. Organise it like speed-dating and record the outcomes.

392. Have a year book for each year group with photos from current and previous years. Also include their primary school photo.

393. Have a page in your student planner that is an actual whiteboard.

394. Get rid of flipcharts by buying flipchart paper that sticks to the wall – its brilliant ( Alternatively paint one of the walls in your office with whiteboard paint (

395. Find a way to allow the students to access as many websites as possible. Students often complain that so many sites are blocked. Also ensure that no sites are blocked for staff.

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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