How can one tell if a school is functioning near to its fullest potential? 

It is an interesting question, and one that is perhaps not asked very often.  Although discussions about school improvement and school efficiency have been going on for a long time very few educators raise such questions as:

How can we tell if we have reached the school’s potential?  If we haven’t how can we reach that potential more rapidly?

In short, asking the question: could the school, given the local conditions, financial restrictions and the like, be doing better, and if so, what steps can we practically take to get there?

One way to answer this is to consider what it is that schools which are functioning to their fullest potential have, which other schools don’t?

And one answer to that, which many would give, is that a fully functioning school working at the highest level has a very highly empowered staff.

Which of course is helpful, but much as it leads to an answer to the question, it also raises another question: how do you know that your staff are fully empowered?

My view, and that of my colleagues, is that this is a very difficult question to answer, not least because we are all used to dealing with our colleagues in our school, and it is often tempting to assume that colleagues are as empowered as they can be.

You encourage them to come forward with new ideas and thoughts, there is open discussion in staff and management meetings… is there really any more that could be done?

My colleagues and I have been working on this issue for some time, and I’m happy to share our findings and conclusions with you. You can see what we have discovered on our presentation.