Looking Beyond Leadership: The Key Characteristics of Successful Schools

It’s obvious what improves schools: good leadership: strong leaders with a clear vision help move schools forward.  Except, it isn’t.  

When you look at the evidence base for work on school leadership, it’s methodologically flawed.  To quote SchoolsWeek “most of the research is of poor quality, and the claims made within it stray beyond the evidence.”

Despite this, Robert Coe (he designed the teacher toolkit, for those with long memories)  began to question whether there was anything that was either scientifically trustworthy or practically useful that schools could actually use. 

And it seems like there just might be.  The team identified a series of school-level characteristics that seem to work.  Here they are below.  Tick them off if you reckon we come close in CST: 

  • Order - the extent to which a school is safe where rules are constantly enforced  and pastoral staff help maintain an orderly classroom
  • Peer collaboration: how teachers work together plan better lessons and solve problems in the school 
  • Principal leadership: the extent to which school leaders support teachers and address concerns about school issues
  • Professional development: the extent to which school provides time and resources for PD and used them to make teachers better
  • School culture: trust, openness, commitment to student achievement 
  • Teacher evaluation: the extent to which school provides meaningful feedback that helps teachers get better and is conducted in an objective manner