What is a Good School ?

John Goodlad, long term Professor of Education at UCLA, started his career as Head of a One-roomed School. He established the University Elementary School on the campus of UCLA and appointed Madeline Hunter as its Principal. He receives honourable mention in any U.S. educational literature and is listed amongst the Fifty Modern Thinkers in Education by Palmer, Cooper and Bresler.

Goodlad …..”The School I’d Like To See”

* teach the processes of thinking ….’learning to think would be the prime focus of the entire school.’

* arranged in phases, not grades or year levels

* multi-aged …to give each child the chance to be amongst the oldest and youngest in a group.

* phases would be guided by teams led by qualified teachers.

* literacy of learning would transcend any other form of literacy.

* different adult models available.

* great deal of self-selection of activities.

* no marks, scores or grades; no stylised report cards ; no external rewards.

* 24 hour school, reaching out to all children and youths.

The school would be concerned with the processes of personal realisation and fulfilment of individual identity, the development of individuals able to participate in all the richness that could lie ahead.


Sir Alec Clegg was the most distinguished Primary School Educator in Britain for a very long period, and his views remain respected. He was the Chief Education Officer for the West Riding of Yorkshire from 1945 to 1974 and his influence was world-wide. His favourite story was ‘The Fable of Fred’.

Sir Alec Clegg….”Some School Matters”

* a place of orderliness, involvement and courtesy.

* minimal anger ; constant sharing and mutual help.

* surroundings that add interest and stimulus.

* where work is a joy ; full opportunities for conversation.

* an emphasis on play, with physical skill available to all, but not ruined by excessive competition.

…a haven from fear, where honesty prevails, a place to be shared where thought, reason and logic will be pursued in the desire to discover, a desire which will be shared by the teachers who have a similar liveliness of curiosity. Standards of excellence will be pursued by all.


Phil Cullen was challenged by Althea Hurley to record his views, when the Q’ld Primary Division was preparing a kit about excellence in teaching compiled by Althea and brought together by the finest practitioners in the State. Phil had neen fortunate to have spent a period working off-campus at UCLA with an organisation called I/D/E/A – the Institute for the Development of Educational Activities- in 1970. It operated under the patronage of John Goodlad. He visited the University Elementary School when Madeline Hunter was principal. Later he visited a number of schools in the West Riding of Yorkshire and hosted Sir Alec Clegg when he visited Queensland in the mid-1980s.

Phil Cullen … a school with ”The Pupil in the Middle of Its Eye”

* definitions would be clear and meaningfully used

* all adults on the campus would think about their place in the scheme of things.

Thinking time would be part of each person’s timetable.

* all members would concentrate total effort on the improvement of teaching and learning techniques.

* progress through school would be marked by increasing joy in the acts of learning as new thresholds are crossed. Such thresholds may not be marked by school years but by growth in experiences.

* there would be plenty of shared opinions about activities and efforts. The sharing of helpful opinion would represent the limit of evaluation processes, because increases in learning joy would be the aim of any learning conversations. Shared opinions would lead to positive forms of self-evaluation.

* ways would be found to develop talents as part of the normal learning process.

Times for unique interests would be found but not over-ritualised.

Pupils would exit school with a great love for some skill or interest of a particular kind.

* when decisions have to be made, they would be based on a simple Four Way Tests, not unlike the Rotary Test:

1. Does it help children to learn better?

2. Does it help teachers to teach better ?

3. Does it economise on efforts in the teaching/learning acts ?

4. Does it provide the greatest good for the greatest number ?

When you have the pupil in the middle of your eye, you can’t miss describing an effective, quality institution.

You end up describing joy in the processes of learning, growth in the quest for learning how to learn, and high satisfaction in achievement.