What makes a successful school?

Labour’s shadow secretary for state for education Stephen Twigg has an interesting article in the Huffington Post today on what makes a successful school. In particular, he laments how 80% of the current discussion seems to be on structure when research suggests this makes less than 8% of the difference in results…

For the government, it seems to be to hark back to a nostalgic view of the past. So Michael Gove has come out in favour of a 1950s exam system for secondary schools, and Victorian-era rote learning at primary school.

Clearly, neither is going to prepare this generation of young people for the pressures of the modern economy.

80% of the debate about school improvement focuses on structures, rather than standards, despite the fact that research from the Institute of Education shows they make less than 8% of the difference in results. So the media, ministers and some on the left are obsessed with free schools and academisation.

In fact, 80% of the difference in standards comes from the quality of teacher in the classroom, not whether ‘free school’, ‘academy’ or community school is painted on the sign outside.

Of course changing a school’s structure can be a galvanizing force for change – helping to bring in new staff and leadership to a failing school, and focusing on improving standards. Labour did a huge amount to encourage this change during our time in office, setting up academies in some of the toughest neighbourhoods in England.

But ultimately, it is the quality of the teachers and head-teachers that actually improve results. More at the Huffington Post – what makes a good school?


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Categories: Academies, Free Schools and Policy.

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