Positive school culture: Pathway to quality education

BY: Setor Nyadroh
 Dr Yaw Adutwum, Minister of Education
Dr Yaw Adutwum, Minister of Education

Across the world there is a clamour for quality education and Ghana is no exception when it comes to that.

Every parent wants their child to attend the best schools often categorised as ‘Category A’, begging the question, what makes a ‘Category A’ school?

Evidence suggest that the missing link in the school improvement conundrum has to do more with the culture of the school, than the elaborate curriculum changes and reforms.

Research shows that a positive school culture influences everything that happens in a school and has a significant impact on quality and academic performance.

One notable story is that of Springfield Renaissance School in Massachusetts, United States (US) which has consistently achieved higher students’ academic performance and a college acceptance rate of 100 per cent for all students for the last 10 consecutive years, since 2009.

Despite the connection between a positive school culture and improvement in education, building and maintaining a positive school culture can be an uphill battle for many head teachers and is often times overlooked.

Culture

School culture consists of the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours which characterise a school, as well as the shared experiences both in school and out of school (traditions and celebrations) that create a sense of community, family, and team membership.

School culture can be positive or negative depending upon the school’S circumstances. Positive school culture fosters trust, collaboration and improvement, while a negative school culture fosters distrust and often overwhelms the best teachers and students.

Establishing a positive school culture that is sustainable does not only require strong leadership, it also requires assessing the existing strengths and identifying areas that need support and improvement to drive up the needed change.

People in any healthy organisation must agree on how to do things and what is worth doing. Common agreement on curricular and instructional components, as well as order and discipline, should be established through consensus rather than on compliance to ensure commitment at all levels — valuing everyone’s place within a culture provides collective ownership across all areas of the school.

Precipice

We are on the precipice of an unparalleled learning crisis as educational policies have shifted away from zero tolerance, a whole school approach to positive school culture, which includes restorative practices and bullying prevention, becomes even more essential to both the academic and emotional stability of our schools.

There is the need for an actionable framework for school-based innovation in building resilience in our education system that addresses the challenges we face daily in our schools.

Alongside these strategies, we need to leverage on the best practices from our high performing schools to develop and maintain a positive school culture across all of our schools in the country.

Schools should be nurturing places for staff members and students alike. How people treat and value one another, share their teaching strategies, and support one another are important in today’s schools.

Relational vitality with students, parents, the community, and especially with one another is the foundation for a healthy school culture and maximising student learning.

The writer is a teacher & Co-Founder/Director of Africawide Literacy Initiative. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.