"What characteristics do outstanding schools have?
- Their leadership is inspirational in providing clear vision and direction. Leaders who take a school from good to outstanding focus on: raising attainment and accelerating progress; improving the quality of teaching and learning; improving the conditions for learning; and developing the school as a professional learning community.
- They place high expectations on all their students. They have a broad range of curricula to engage and support students, personalised to accommodate individual aptitudes and needs.
- They insist on excellence in the quality of classroom teaching, and have systems in place which mean that leaders know the strengths and weaknesses of all the teaching staff.
- They operate an evidence-based approach to what is happening in classrooms. If staff teach less than very well, arrangements are in place to offer support. At the same time, outstanding schools have a relaxed collegiate culture in which teaching and classroom management ideas are shared unselfishly and problems acknowledged without fear of blame.
- They set challenging targets and the good use of arrangements for assessing and tracking pupils’ progress. These arrangements are supported by sophisticated information technology to which all relevant staff have access.
- They are highly inclusive, having regard for the educational progress, personal Development and well-being of every student. They prove that socio-economic disadvantage need not be a barrier to achievement. Speaking English as an additional language can support academic success.
- Senior leaders make sure that the professional development of all staff, teaching and non-teaching, is relevant, continuous and of high quality. Most of this professional development takes place in school.
- Building and retaining links with parents and local communities is integral to raising aspirations and ambitions for children in outstanding schools. They are also broad in their outlook, for example by having links with schools in other countries. Outstanding schools may well take on a responsibility to support other schools which need to improve."
Importantly an outstanding school goes beyond tight quality controls towards the quality assurance of a self-confident, self-critical community in which learning is interactive and permanent.