'Outstanding' schools don't have all the answers

If you look only to models of excellence to drive school improvement, your efforts will stall, warns Christian Bokhove

In striving for school improvement, you need to look at schools that are struggling as well as success stories, says Christian Bokhove

Where do you start when trying to turn around a struggling school? An obvious approach might be to look to the “outstanding” school down the road for answers. Analysing the policies and practices of the staff at this more successful school will surely provide a model that can be used to improve your struggling school. This sounds like a perfectly sensible thing to do. If you see something that is working, analysing what people are doing “right” will surely help you to learn the secrets of their success. But there is a catch: a phenomenon called “survivorship bias”.

The problem is that, in the ...

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