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What makes an exceptional school in a post-pandemic world?

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After schools’ objectives were derailed by the disruption of lockdown, they’ve reviewed what’s most important about a pupil’s education. Is it nurturing their growth in a safe environment? Or securing results at the top of the league table?

Ahead of the release of our 2021/22 UKI State of Technology in Education report, we explore some of the key findings, and what they tell us about educators’ expectations of exceptionalism.

School strategy

How schools are set up, how teaching takes place and how pupils learn have shifted over the last year. So, too, has the definition of an outstanding school. Once a more abstract conception of stellar results, mature pupils and supremely organised staff, schools are now clearer about the ultimate goals they’re pursuing as they continue recovering from a learning deficit.

Part of this is being able to adapt to those shifts. A school strategy that pivots between evolving staff and student needs, with teachers having the training to confidently deliver effective approaches. Much of this responsibility rests with the SLT. School leadership needs to be informed by the collective staff opinion, but crucially needs to be attuned to the current and future trends in pedagogy and edtech in order to support them.

Education technology

It’s also about how modern a school is in terms of its IT infrastructure. Edtech isn’t just an interest of IT managers — teachers increasingly desire a seamless digital backdrop they can utilise to make their lessons more engaging, with tools that also bolster their own productivity. A school’s ability to embed this level of purposeful, valuable edtech into a variety of traditional, future-proof pedagogical approaches is a hallmark of exceptionalism.

“[An exceptional school is one] where pupils and staff feel happy, valued and safe. Where staff have the time, support and funding to be able to provide tailored solutions and teaching for pupils.”

— Teacher/Senior Teacher, Independent Junior/Senior, London

That’s why the classroom remains irreplaceable. Educators are united in their belief that this environment is unparalleled for the quality of engagement, tech use and collaboration they’re working to reignite. The most strategic schools understand the opportunity to empower the role of the classroom teacher with a commitment to edtech and the training to maximise its value — all of which they believe will only grow further in the future. 

Student wellbeing

But the importance of all this extends beyond the prestige of an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating. In 2021, everything comes down to the student experience. Educators have been at the forefront of supporting pupils through the challenges of remote learning and the toll of isolation. They may be leaving that period behind, but all their efforts are motivated by combating its impact so pupils feel safe and supported to get back on track.

One of the key learnings from 2021? Grades aren’t everything. This year’s State of Technology in Education report reveals results and attainment have fallen to the third-highest priority. 2 in 5 educators say they’re key to their school strategy, while a slightly higher 43% are focusing on reducing the attainment gap.

But what comes first? Be the first to find out the top priority for 2021/22, what educators say they need to achieve it, and the most popular tools to help — get first access to the full report, backed by thousands of educators’ opinions.

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