An Alternative Good School Checklist

I stumbled across this thought provoking post on Twitter via @ThatIanGilbert who heads up the  education company Independent Thinking who provide an array of learning opportunities for teachers through conferences, seminars & their ‘Little Book of…’ series.  These books are definitely worth investing in and can be purchased for around a fiver on Amazon.

Here is the list in full:

”Fed up with people/MPs/the Press saying ‘That’s a good school’ and basing their judgement entirely upon exam results? Here’s a 24-point (and counting) ‘good school’ checklist that focuses on a picture bigger than just the exam results.

  1. Do children enjoy going there?
  2. Do teachers enjoy working there?
  3. Are all children challenged by the work?
  4. Do the children develop competencies as well as grades?
  5. Do the children learn skills as well as facts?
  6. Are morals and values focused on and exhibited daily by all members of the school community?
  7. Is there an inclusive atmosphere where all children are valued for who they are and what they bring?
  8. Are key issues like bullying and other social and emotional aspects of school life discussed and addressed in a positive, open way?
  9. Is the ability to think for themselves encouraged and developed in all children?
  10. Does the school have a sense of fun?
  11. Are aspects like wonder, curiosity, adventure, bravery, resilience actively encouraged and celebrated?
  12. Are the teachers open to new ideas and keen to do things with – and not to – the learners?
  13. Does the school keep up to date with new advances in learning and technology?
  14. Are high expectations of the children matched by high expectations of the staff?
  15. Is the headteacher visible?
  16. Are children taught that being their best doesn’t have to involve being better than others?
  17. Is the unexpected welcomed?
  18. Do children get to think about, interact with and seek to change life outside of the school walls?
  19. Is the school aware that learning is something that children can do at any time, anywhere and only part of it needs to be within the school walls?
  20. Does the school community extend beyond the school walls?
  21. Do the lessons incorporate a variety of learning opportunities and possibilities?
  22. Do the children have the opportunity to be responsible for something and take decisions that make a difference?
  23. Does the lady on reception smile at visitors?
  24. Are the results sufficient enough to allow all children to go to the next stage of their life, whatever that may be?

Are there any other things you would add to this checklist?  We at Wilmslow High School would love to hear from you!

Informal Learning Spaces: WHS’s Maths Atrium

WHS Maths Department's Informal Learning Space

Nine years ago, when I first arrived at Wilmslow High School, one of the first major changes I experienced was a reorganisation of curriculum areas. Mathematics used to be stationed in two distinct areas, on the present upstairs English and MFL corridors. The new plan instead saw us move to a single area, taking over what was then MFL and History. As part of this move we therefore inherited the design feature affectionately known by students as ‘The Spit Pit’!

Fortunately for everybody this area was quickly transformed into what is now referred to as ‘The Maths Atrium’ which is our study area. This has evolved over several years into a professional space which acts as a focal point for learning and also as a place where a very real community has emerged with students readily seeking support from teachers and peers alike.

Although primarily we had envisaged that this space would most frequently be used by students taking up the offer of lunchtime support (as advertised in the school’s X-tra programme), students and particularly those at KS5, have taken ownership of the space and frequently base themselves in this area during free periods, knowing that they are able to ask any maths teacher for help as they are passing.

The area is stocked with past paper displays (which students are free to take down and use), relevant supporting textbooks and folders of mark-schemes, the latter of which are very well thumbed as students show their growing independence in preparing for external examinations. The area is bright and seeks to inspire students with displays of the mathematics residential and guides as to how to use specialist graphical calculators.

One extra benefit which has accompanied the evolution of this space is that older students are now regularly modelling fantastic study practice to our younger students. In terms of embedding the culture and ethos of hard work bringing success which we are striving for here at Wilmslow High School, nothing speaks louder than the actions of students at work and we are delighted that this is demonstrated effectively and often in this learning space.

Richard Edge

Curriculum Team Leader, Mathematics at Wilmslow High School