Using appreciative inquiry to celebrate, showcase and share the practice helping remarkable schools successfully deliver a high-quality, whole education
An exchange of best practices is one of the best ways to learn.
In an effort to facilitate collaborative learning, Whole Education has launched Stand Out School Initiative in 2019 to celebrate, showcase and share what helps remarkable schools succeed, for the benefit of staff and schools across the Whole Education network and beyond.
Host schools share a ‘stand-out’ feature of practice, alongside an ambition which they are working on. Each visit is framed around our appreciative, strength-based formula. This is designed to help visitors (or ‘seekers’) get ‘underneath the skin’ of another school’s approach – the why and the how.
Why a stand out schools initiative?
The Stand Out Schools Initiative was designed to help Whole Education and its network understand the principles and practices that go into effectively designing and delivering a sustainable, whole education.
Apart from this being an opportunity for school leaders to learn together, this visit will help generate ideas for lines of inquiry and practical ‘what’s next’ steps for the host school to explore. The host school benefits from the expertise and insight of passionate appreciators from across the country.
The aim is to inspire educators, wherever they are on their journey, with the ultimate goal of influencing the direction of the English education system.
The WE appreciative inquiry model – a strengths-based, appreciative inquiry cycle
The official definition of Appreciative Inquiry is “a model that seeks to engage stakeholders in self-determined change.” One way to explain this is that human tendency is to focus on what’s not working and try to fix it. Appreciative Inquiry turns that approach on its head, focusing instead on what works really well and build on those strengths.
Our own AI model builds on the work of other educators who have used the approach to build upon and celebrate the great practice in the system.
The model is based around our fundamental belief that England’s current narrow, deficit-based accountability system is harmful and sets perverse incentives – particularly in the narrowing of the curriculum we see in secondary schools.
It also fails to celebrate and spread the strengths of brilliant schools, and their passionate teachers and leaders.
Appreciative inquiry is about identifying what is already working well and exploring how a school can build on these strengths.