• Peter Hogan

A 12-step "Culture Checklist" for all schools

Updated: Oct 7


I have inspected and visited many schools around the world and even if a school hasn’t defined its culture, when you spend time with the staff and kids you get to understand what it is.


Culture and ethos define the way a school goes about things. It shows you what it believes in and so gives insight into how the teachers teach, the children learn and tells you about the values they uphold.


What is isn’t is a clever catchphrase, a pithy slogan or an ancient motto. It’s the deeper and more valuable aspirational values and philosophy that determine behaviour and attitude.


This is the sort of checklist I look for in a good school:

1 Academic achievement

Involvement not instruction: exciting lessons, talented teachers, good working conditions, appropriate, affordable technology, meaningful assessment with the highest expectations of everyone.

2 Independence

Striving for autonomy in terms of governance, management, ethos and mission within a framework of national rules for compliance, standards, accountability and equality for pupils.

Learning from the best.

Having appropriate representation and influence in key educational and political areas.

3 Innovation

Improving performance through maximising school expertise. 

Being ready to review and re-evaluate to raise standards: moving from best practice to next practice.

Freeing up school to allow it to innovate and succeed and if necessary to transform the schools system so that every child receives an excellent education.

4 The Arts

Being an outstanding centre for the arts where participation from all is encouraged and there are exciting, inclusive events to celebrate the creativity, talent and hard work of pupils and staff.

5 Sport

Doing the best in all sporting enderavours at all time, win or lose.

Education concerns the whole person and every pupil has the ability to achieve or excel if exposed to the correct opportunities. For some success in sport is the key to success in school.

A wide variety of sports at variety of levels of involvement with participation for all.

Coaching to the highest standards.

Competition at local, regional, national and international levels.

6 Service

Pupils and staff to recognise and respond to the needs of the local, national and international world at appropriate times.

Charitable work, volunteering, community service.

Excellence and high participation in a variety organised public service initiatives.

Action-based projects and campaigns in support of others at home and abroad.


7 Spirituality

A commitment to the development of the spirituality within each person.

To help the next generation to be understanding and tolerant of the variety of faiths and beliefs around the world so they can play their part in promoting peace and reconciliation. 

8 Discipline

A caring, polite, well-manner and civilised school world where everyone understands what is right and what is wrong and this holds  strong influence over the way they treat themselves, the way they treat others and the way they make decisions.

9 Openness

Recognising that we can all continue to learn and improve and accepting that the ways of the past may not be the way of the future.

Understanding that we are all accountable for our decisions, performance and actions and that we have a duty to allow our work as teachers and pupils to be measured and appraised fairly.

Listening to all interest groups, learning from them and devising solutions that bear in mind all of their wants, hopes and needs.

10 Young leaders and staff leaders

Allowing pupils and staff to develop their leadership skills and to reflect on their own skills and abilities.

To enable older pupils and staff to understand, develop and adapt their leadership styles to maximise their personal effectiveness.

11 Discussion

The beliefs of the school should be voiced from many quarters within the school through appropriate, meaningful committees and councils, in forums and via debate.

12 Partnership

The courage to embrace a new partnership philosophy.

Meaningful partnership with other schools and business.

Peter Hogan

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