If you don’t know what a good one looks like….


..then how can you know what it takes to make one?

Grab a  pen and paper. Follow these instructions:

  1. Draw a horizontal line and mark each side with a dot.
  2. Draw a vertical line across the horizontal line you had drawn earlier. Connect each end of the vertical line to the vanishing point. This will end up looking like a diamond.
  3. Add another vertical line on each side of the first vertical line you have drawn.
  4. Using the lines as outline, draw a box.
  5. On the front of the box, draw a vertical line on the center all the way up. Add two slanted lines on each side.
  6. Make adjustments to the slanted line a little bit farther to the left. Darken the top lines on the top.
  7. Darken the whole outline
  8. Draw a rectangle and two squares.
  9. Color your drawing

Taken and amended from Wikihow


How did you get on? Do you know what it’s supposed to be? How could you not get it right, you had the instructions?

This blog isn’t about AfL where this is often used to highlight the issue of not giving students a model answer or finished product, but about school leadership and what makes a good* school.


#SLTChat this week was about supporting teachers to become leaders. Whilst I don’t have any stats I think that #SLTChat isn’t fully representative of school leadership across the country. Most participants sound like humane, professional, great leaders. This really isn’t the case of all school leaders.

My issue is, in a school where there are no/few leadership positive role models, how will teachers know what a good leader is?

Many teachers don’t want to go into leadership because their only reference point is not positive. “I don’t want to sit in meetings after school every day” or “I want to have a good work/life balance” is the kind of thing you’ll hear from teachers who are, day-to-day,seeing leaders who really aren’t being good leaders.

Teachers that become leaders in one school with no/few role models and don’t experience any good leadership seriously risk repeating the same behaviours they’ve seen throughout their career; they think it’s how a leader should behave.

Making a good school

If I told you to draw the picture above, I could claim I had told you how to draw the picture. You should be able to draw it with those instructions?

There are many criteria/models that schools can follow to try and make the school a better place. Some models are sold to schools. However, without an exemplar of what it might look like there are so many ways that things can go wrong in the process or the criteria being misinterpreted. Schools can grasp onto the models but without seeing how they live and feel in a real context, things can go seriously wrong. It becomes a treadmill of contiguous new criteria/models that don’t work so leaders move to the next one.

The best schools see what good schools and leaders are doing and decide whether it might work in their context. They don’t just copy it because it’s good.

What can be done?

  • Teachers & leaders need to get out. They need to see how others are doing things. Not just one school. Several. One size doesn’t fit all. One of the best things I ever did was do the SSAT Outstanding schools programme. For the first time I saw what ‘outstanding’ schools looked like. Remember, there isn’t just one way to draw a house.
  • Leaders need to be wary of wholesale buying into criteria/models that work elsewhere, especially if paying for it.  Schools don’t work like that. Those set of instructions don’t draw a house from all cultures; it’s one interpretation of a house.
  • If you’re still grading lessons (most importantly, why?!) do all your staff know what your definition of ‘outstanding’ looks like? Not a check list. We know that doesn’t work. If you can’t show them examples, many examples of what you’re calling ‘outstanding’ then maybe you need to reconsider.
  • If we expect teachers to use AfL with students, ensure all practices that require a desired output have plenty of good examples. What makes a good tutor time? A good parent’s evening? A good report? A good classroom set up? Show teachers what it looks like, don’t assume they know.


By the way,your picture should’ve looked like this:

But of course, there are many ways to draw a house….


*I’m using the word good in the sense of an efficient, effective, successful school not specifically Ofsted ‘good’.

One thought on “If you don’t know what a good one looks like….

  1. “I don’t want to sit in meetings after school every day” or “I want to have a good work/life balance”… Or “I don’t want to be a sociopath wielding power over others for the sake of it”

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