We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.- Aristotle
Experience tells us that improvement is brought about through the interplay of four key areas of school life.
These will form the basis of our improvement model.
- Commitment, Christian ethos, expectations and aspiration - Gaining commitment to the need for improvement, creating an environment of high expectations and aspiration in accordance with our Christian values.
- High quality leadership at all levels - Establishing high quality leadership at all levels within the school and, crucially, through appointing only the best leaders to the important role of Headteacher or Principal.
- Community support and excellent governance - Gaining community involvement through effective work with parents and high-quality governance of the school. Using local expertise to enhance and support good governance.
- Engaging the learner - Through creating effective, interesting, relevant teaching and learning with well-qualified and exciting teachers and support staff who are given opportunities to be creative and to develop themselves professionally.
Commitment, Christian ethos, expectations and aspiration
- Improvement does not happen unless key players in the school see the need for it.
- Unless the entire school community acknowledges the need to bring about improvement, then change is unlikely. Well-led schools create the desire amongst all their adults to bring about improvement. This desire is driven by a culture of high expectation and aspiration amongst the adults that creates strong expectations amongst parents and their children.
- We believe that a strong Christian ethos - based on values such as courage, integrity, perseverance, forgiveness, thankfulness and the ability to work in a team - creates the kind of drive and support that is likely to underpin a desire for improvement.
- DNEAT is, therefore, committed to developing and supporting all the adults in its schools to create this atmosphere of aspiration and high expectation. Such an ethos has to permeate all levels of the organization and is a hallmark of the Trust’s directors. This will drive the Trust’s interactions with its schools and will underpin the support for improvement that we commission, as well as being at the heart of each Academy’s self-evaluation.
High quality leadership at all levels
- Sustainable improvement depends upon high-quality, well-supported school leadership.
- It goes without saying that the quality of Principal or Headteacher is one of the most important factors in the likelihood of the school becoming and remaining an outstanding school. Excellent leaders are able to communicate the vision, create an outstanding learning environment and act with courage and conviction. They develop a commitment to learning across the whole school community and engage parents and carers in the children’s learning.
- Our approach to leadership is not predicated on super-hero headteachers. Really good schools are identifiable by a corporate responsibility for sustained improvement. Teachers are leaders in their classrooms. Subject or phase leaders are also key, and we want to see schools committed to developing future leaders.
- Above all, the quality of leadership provided by the governing body and by the Trust itself will create the right environment for excellent leadership at all levels.
Community support and excellent governance
- Improvement is heavily dependent on the extent to which the community supports the school.
- To achieve this, the key players are the parents and carers of students in the school. A school focused on improvement, and on providing the very best for its students, ensures that the wider community knows what it is doing; uses the expertise in the community to enhance student learning; and finds ways of helping students to appreciate and contribute to their community.
- Parents need to know how their children are doing, have the opportunity to contribute to the school and understand how they can best help their children improve the standard of their work.
- Parents also need to show that they understand and buy into the school’s values and ethos and the policies and practice that underpin them.
- The key interface between school and community is the Governing Body. We will seek out the right mix of expertise and local community representation in the governors we appoint. They will be well supported in carrying out their crucial roles, especially in holding the school to account for providing the very best for every student.
Engaging the learner
- Without the engagement of the learner, improvement doesn’t stand a chance. This means real expertise from teachers and support staff alike, and excellence in teaching. To achieve this, all staff are expected to access top-quality professional development, to be up-to-date and constantly sharing their expertise. Students need excellent teaching to help them feel fully engaged; they also need time to develop, space to experiment and the resources and tools to enable them to progress.
- Learners need a curriculum that is rich in experiences, broad in its opportunities and in-depth enough to help them master their learning. Engagement does not just come from the easily measured subjects, important though they are. We want students to acquire all the necessary skills to access all parts of the curriculum. Specifically in our schools we want the children to have high quality experiences that enhance their spiritual, moral and social education. We want to see rich artistic, musical and other cultural experiences and quality time given to enhancing learning about health and physical well-being. But such engagement will not come about unless children have ease of access to the basic tools of literacy and numeracy.
- This engagement in learning will prepare learners well for the next phases of their learning. Even the very youngest children need to be prepared for the world they inhabit; and particular attention will therefore be given to understanding themselves as individuals, their place in the world and their responsibilities for their environment.