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Students across Nigeria need effective schools. While the Nigerian school system as a whole may be falling behind international standards, there are still some schools that stand out.

For sure, the context of schooling will impact attributes that contribute to effectiveness in specific schools but at the same time, there are attributes that contribute to effectiveness across schooling contexts. If we understand the attributes of effectiveness, we can observe which attributes exist at successful schools.

There are five common attributes that make up an effective school.

  1. Leadership

The first attribute is quality leadership. Students perform better when the Principal and School Board members provide strong leadership. Effective leaders are visible, can successfully convey the school’s goals and visions, collaborate with teachers to enhance their skills, and are involved in the discovery of and solutions to problems.

  1. High Expectations

The second attribute is having high expectations of students as well as teachers. High expectations of students have repeatedly been shown to have a positive impact on student performance even here at Ladela Schools. Students are somewhat dependent on the expectations placed on them during this period of their lives, as they are still shaping their personal sense of ability and esteem. Teachers who are expected to teach at high levels of effectiveness can reach the level of expectations, particularly when teacher evaluations and professional development are geared toward improving instructional quality. Chapter 4 and 5 of THE SCHOOL GUIDE covers effective ways to build expectations on students and staff, evaluation, student leadership, working with teaching staff, professional development of staff and more.

“Set high expectations for all students and staff and be sure they are well aware of the expectations” …….The School Guide. 

  1. Ongoing Evaluation

It is necessary that students be evaluated on a regular basis to observe several skill sets, knowledge, understanding and overall study progress as described in The School Guide (See page 41). The effectiveness of this practice cannot be over emphasized as this practice has shown great results here at Ladela Schools. There should be an ongoing screening of student performance and development. Schools should use assessment data to compare their students with others from across the country/region. Effective use of assessment data allows schools to identify problematic areas of learning at the classroom and school levels, so that teachers can generate solutions to address the problems.

4. Goals and Direction

According to research, the successful School Principal actively constructs goals and then effectively communicates them to appropriate individuals (e.g., students, teachers, and the community at large). School Principals must also be open and willing to incorporate innovation into goals for school processes and practices. The School Guide cover Strategic Planning, Goals and more on ways to get started and being effective at it. So it’s important to invite input from all stakeholders in the process of developing school goals. Student performance has been shown to improve in schools where the entire school community works toward goals that are communicated and shared among all in the learning environment.

5. Secure and Organized

The final attribute of a successful school is the extent to which the school is secure and organized. For maximum learning to occur, students need to feel secure. Respect is a quality that is promoted and is a fundamental aspect of an effective and safe school. Successful schools also have a number of trained staff and programs and workers who work with difficult or troubled students before situations get out of hand.

Apart from the five attributes of a successful school already mentioned, the size of the school seems to be an attribute in the school’s effectiveness. Research has found that the smaller the school, the better students perform, especially in the case of older students. Students in smaller learning environments feel more connected to their peers and teachers, pass classes more often, and are more likely to go to transit successfully to university.

Additional attributes that influence effective schools include time to learn, teacher quality, and parental trust. Research supports the view that the more time a student spends learning, and the more efficiently that time is used, the higher their achievement. Schools that find creative ways to extend learning time will likely be more effective. Furthermore, schools with high-quality teachers also tend to be more effective. The School Guide covers extensively ways to get the right Staff/Teachers, working with teachers, professional development and setting up an effective performance management system.

Schools able to hire teachers from high-quality teacher education programs are more likely to be effective. But school effectiveness can also be influenced by the frequency, relevancy, and quality of the teacher professional development offered by the school or school district. Teachers who haven’t had the opportunity to attend prestigious teacher education colleges still have several opportunities to develop after embarking on their professional career. Support for these initiatives at a school tends to improve overall teacher quality, regardless of their university of origin.

Trust and parental participation are also features of a successful school. Trust between all parties of the school community is vital for enhancing the school’s effectiveness because it supports the prospect that parents and teachers believe in each other’s motives and actions. Parental participation is also important because it sends the message to students that the adults in their lives–both teachers and parents—believe in the importance of education and are willing to make time to support students’ educational experiences and efforts.

How well does your school embody the five attributes of a successful school?