Good School model
The Centre for Ethics of the University of Tartu and its numerous collaborators were motivated to develop the Good School Model in order to challenge the one-sided approach of School League Tables as the sole criteria for goodness of a school as it can be harmful for the development of schools and cooperation between schools. Good School Model calls for a whole-school approach to the roles of teacher and student and the recognition of the importance of cooperation on all levels. Around 90 experts all over Estonia were involved in the process of developing the Good School Model, including educational researchers, school principals, teachers, representatives of various unions, the Estonian Ministry for Education and Research officials and representatives of local councils.
The Good School Model aims to find what constitutes a good school and what kind of good practices could be shared with different schools across Estonia. The whole-school approach calls for collaboration between different counterparts in school: school personnel, students, parents and local school authorities to self-analyze and better their school. Schools use the self-evaluation criteria in the Good School Model to describe the goals and actions in their school and are encouraged to find tools of evaluation to prove the usefulness of the practice. The aim of the Good School Model is to describe different aspects of a good school and to find the criteria that indicate that a school actually deals with these aspects.
During the process, the Good School Model and the team from the Centre for Ethics, University of Tartu provides schools with self-evaluation criteria (four different fields of the model and its descriptive aspects); professional feedback from Critical Friends in the analyzing process; and creates networking opportunities for schools to share their good practices with other schools during network trainings.
The new national curricula for basic and upper secondary schools stress that a school has both educational and character building functions. A school should support the personal and social development of each student and the development of critical thinking, creativity and entrepreneurship. This, however, requires a novel approach to the roles of teacher and student and the recognition of the importance of cooperation on all levels. With the focus on cooperation and development in education, the understanding of the role of teacher/supervisor as an authoritarian source of academic knowledge is no longer adequate.
Besides knowledge, attitudes in the sphere of values and skills are also important. In order to bring children up as happy persons, different parties need to cooperate – schools, homes, hobby schools, youth centres, local councils, and the state. However, at the moment there are no league tables and no evaluation criteria for these activities, and as they are not evaluated, they are not acknowledged and do not receive sufficient attention.
If we have the aim of reforming the educational process, a reform of evaluation practices as applied to schools is also necessary. Teachers’ readiness to support students’ personal and social development is not enough if the success of their work is still evaluated solely on the basis of students’ academic achievement. As long as the examination results are the sole criterion of a school’s success, schools will not have sufficient motivation to develop all important aspects. Thus, it is very important that school personnel, parents and local school authorities understand that a good school is a complex phenomenon and for evaluating it different criteria and different tools are necessary.
87 Estonian experts are involved in the process of developing the good school model, including educational researchers, school principals, teachers, representatives of various unions, the Estonian Ministry for Education and Research officials and representatives of local councils.