Ensuring a school consistently performs its primary job is fundamental to its success. This means being clear about what the school aims to achieve and how the community can determine its performance. To assist in this, Indigo Schools has developed a self-assessment system that provides individuals with an interest in a school with tools to answer the question, “How good is my (or my child’s) school?” The following article describes elements of the Indigo Schools self-assessment system, how it aims to improve school performance, and explores the question “What is the ultimate purpose of school?”
What is the primary job of a school?
The focus of a healthy school body is student progress and achievement, which is at the heart of the ‘live’ system. In the Indigo Schools model, the school’s mission is centred on student progress and achievement. A well-framed mission must describe the following:
- Learning objectives and key results and how they will be measured;
- How the school’s leaders have aligned its staff and students in the work required to achieve consistently excellent learning outcomes;
- The values of the school, which are made explicit in the skills, knowledge, and qualities of character it aims to nurture and develop in both students and staff accountable for creating an optimal environment for teaching and learning.
How can a school become excellent and continue to improve?
Leadership within the Indigo Schools Framework is defined as “one who takes responsibility”. Leaders must ensure that every work team and the school as a whole operate as a healthy, integrated ecosystem. This is achieved by:
- Defining excellence in every work role through the five critical questions;
- Clarifying the degree of decision-making authority and accountability across five levels of problem-solving complexity;
- Specifying the main obligations of people at each level of work and the decisions they are expected to be responsible for across the seven operational dimensions that must be combined to sustain the health and wellbeing of the school system as a whole.
The outcomes of the self-assessment process reveal invaluable data and information about the stage that the school system is at and how it can continue to evolve to deliver consistently excellent performance from students, staff, and the school as a whole. This data can be used to identify improvement priorities and innovations to future-proof the school and enable its success.
Outcomes can be further utilised to develop individual (students and staff), work team, and whole-school plans that show how progress will be made to achieve the desired outcomes. For example, teachers may focus on the quality of their teaching, learning, and assessment plans, heads of departments may concentrate on their departmental contributions to the effectiveness of teachers, mentorship of students, and the school’s overall health, while principals may concentrate on the school’s governance, support for heads of departments, teachers, and students, and the realisation of the school’s mission.
The most appropriate changes to make in initiatives designed to improve a school are matched to the school’s development stage. Six broad phases can be identified on a spectrum of school (and teaching and learning system) development, with three phases further unpacked to enable individuals and leaders to identify the most appropriate interventions to speed development from competence to seasoned excellence and master.
Key Understandings for Parents
A key objective for Indigo Schools is to enable parents to address the question: ‘How good is my child’s school?’ The question can also be framed as:
‘How well is the school meeting the needs, nurturing the interests and stretching the potential of my child?’
As a parent, you want to ensure that your child’s school is meeting their needs and fostering their potential. But how can you evaluate a school to determine if it is doing so? At Indigo Schools, we believe there are four essential elements to achieving progress and success in learning, work, and life.
- Focus: Before starting any work, learners should have a clear understanding of their goals and what they need to achieve by a certain deadline.
- Action: Learners should know how to achieve their goals, how their progress will be measured, and be motivated to start working towards them.
- Measure What Matters: Regular feedback on progress is essential, so learners are always aware of how they are doing.
- Accountability: Accountability for learning belongs to both the learner and the teacher.
The learner’s accountability in “learning to learn” belongs to the learner. Effective teaching and learning programs inspire learners to take responsibility for measuring their own progress and maintaining it. The ultimate goal is for learners to become independent from their teacher, even at a young age. The teacher is accountable for creating a safe, valued, and supportive environment that encourages every student to take responsibility for their own learning and progress.
The purpose of a school is to optimise student progress and achievement, by catering to their needs, interests, and potential.
This is accomplished through a well-defined mission, clear self-assessment of the system, and application of key principles to achieve excellence, evolve and grow into a world-class learning system. Our students deserve nothing less.
Further information about the Indigo Schools Framework can found in the Primer on our Resources Page. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form below if you’d like to learn more about how the Indigo Schools Framework can be successfully applied within your school. Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Linkedin for our latest updates.