I have the great privilege of visiting a vast number of schools in my role as an education consultant and in my former position as a teacher and senior leader at one of the most sought-after schools in the UK. Choosing a school for your child depends on so many factors, most of which are very personal to the family and child in question. A question I frequently get asked is, 'What makes a good school great?'

The very best schools have distinct characteristics that set them apart and contribute to their excellence. Here are my top 10 characteristics of the very best schools that I have had the good fortune to see:

  1. They focus on the journey, not just the destination. This means they prioritize holistic development and long-term growth over short-term achievements.
  2. They ensure that every school day is filled with purpose and happiness, creating an environment where students are motivated and engaged in their learning.
  3. They prioritize building strong relationships between students and staff, ensuring that every child has an adult they can confide in and trust.
  4. They offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports, music, and drama, to all students, not just the elite, fostering inclusivity and diversity.
  5. They are more than the sum of their facilities, traditions, and history. While these aspects are important, great schools go beyond them by focusing on innovation, adaptability, and continuous improvement.
  6. They recognize the value of childhood and strive to keep children as young as possible for as long as possible, allowing them to explore, play, and learn at their own pace.
  7. They foster a 'we' not 'me' culture, promoting teamwork, collaboration, and mutual respect among students and staff.
  8. They embrace nature and find creative ways to incorporate outdoor learning experiences into their curriculum, recognizing the benefits of connecting with the natural world.
  9. They instill in students the importance of looking outward and supporting their local community, fostering empathy, compassion, and social responsibility.
  10. They prioritize kindness above all else, creating a culture of respect, empathy, and inclusivity where every individual feels valued and supported.

These characteristics reflect my experiences and observations of exceptional schools, but they may not necessarily align with everyone's priorities and values. When choosing a school for your child, it's important to consider what matters most to your family and what aligns with your educational philosophy.

Do these characteristics resonate with your thoughts on what makes a school great? What additional factors do you consider important in choosing a school for your child? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or reach out to us via our account on bloss. At ESB, we are committed to helping families make informed decisions about their children's education and offer a free 15-minute discovery call for those seeking more information about our services.

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