‘What makes a great school?: A practical formula success’ by Andy Buck is a small book worth a lot of time.

In this book, Andy highlights key areas that need addressing in order to develop sustained outstanding performance and therefore impact the lives of many pupils.

Through this gem of a book, I learnt about the importance of employing the right staff. He argues that you don’t want to be stuck with teachers that don’t cut it. It might be that they are fairly capable teachers but if they struggle to get the ethos of the school, is it worth employing them?

Furthermore, in considering the type of person to employ, it is worth considering what the rest of the team looks like. Understanding what ingredient the staff team is missing is vitally important. For this to happen, it is important to know your team. In the past I’ve used Myerrs-Briggs and Strengthsfinder 2.0 alongside well thought out questions – all of which have proved incredibly helpful.

This sounds like common sense but with only four people applying for two well-advertised jobs, it is certainly a challenge. You have to take the risk at times and choose character (untaught skills) over some areas of knowledge (taught). This is only possible if the teachers are in an environment where they can grow and develop themselves.

Buck goes on to argue that ‘great schools know exactly what they are trying to achieve’. I often think of this about accepting everything that might be good. However, there are thousands of good initiatives out there. Many initiatives are thoroughly researched, too. However, it is the job of the school teacher to say “no” more than to say “yes”. It is about being selective, and helping your staff become selective too. Knowing what the school’s vision is and isn’t is something that needs to be referred to regularly and become part of the DNA of the school.

Buck states, “The key to success is not the fact that the expectations are displayed in every room, however. It is the relentless application of these expectations by all staff, day in day out, that makes the difference”

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