High Reliability Schools

March 3, 2021  
Deputy Principal and Chaplain - Rev. James Rogers

Imagine booking a ticket with an airline that has a reputation for low-reliability air safety. One would have to be pretty desperate to run the risk. Or imagine having an office in the building of a property developer who has a reputation for low-reliability building safety. Again, one would have to be pretty desperate to run the risk. Some industries require high-reliability performance to ensure confidence and safety; for these industries, the cost of low reliability is a price they are not prepared to pay.  

What about schools? Is the business of education important enough to demand high-reliability schools that know what they are on about and never fail to deliver what they promise? At TIGS we think so. For this reason, we have embarked on some learning about High-Reliability Schools. 

To assist us in our thinking we have harnessed the research of Robert J. Marzano and associates who have applied the science of high-reliability industries to schools. Five levels are identified with mastery in one level leading to the next. They are:

  1. Safe and collaborative culture: This level addresses the day-to-day operations of the school ensuring that there are robust and fair systems in place which are understood and followed by all.  
  2.  Effective teaching in every classroom: This level ensures teachers are adequately resourced to provide instructional strategies which serve the learning needs of all students.
  3. Guaranteed and viable curriculum: This level ensures the same curriculum is taught by all teachers, with just the right amount of curriculum content, ensuring all students are given equal access to the learning.
  4. Standards-referencing reporting: This level personalises learning to each individual student, ensuring that their growth in learning is measured by agreed standards. 
  5. Competency-based education:  This level ensures students progress through their learning on the basis of demonstrated competence rather than via the measures of mere maturation.

All staff began analysing our School’s total operations via the High Reliability framework at Monday’s Professional Learning Day. We concentrated on Level One, utilising data that was derived from recent staff and student surveys. Staff were fully engaged in their learning as the accompanying photos attest. As we progress further in our work, we will be utilising data derived from parent surveys. Stay tuned for more in this space!

Why would we bother? Because we believe that the education of children and young people is too important to get wrong. We want to ensure we are highly reliable in what we propose: “the achievement of academic excellence in a caring environment that is founded on Christian belief and behaviour, so that students are equipped to act with wisdom, compassion and justice as faithful stewards of our world.” 


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