Four Things Innovative Schools Have in Common

Four Things Innovative Schools Have in Common

What makes a school innovative? In a recent article on the blog,, Steve Wheeler, an associate professor at the Plymouth Institute of Education, commented on a list of 13 “innovative schools.” In the post, he noted how diverse the list was—schools made the list for everything from creative use of space to progressive pedagogical approaches. In his Teachthought article, Wheeler listed the following four characteristics that all of these schools have in common:

They see students as unique individuals and educate them accordingly.

They offer personalized learning and encourage students to take an active role in their education. Standardization is not important. Personalization and flexibility are paramount and students work and progress at their own pace.

They are connected with the outside world.

They connect what students learn in the classroom with the world of work. Education is not just about knowledge transmission but also about developing the skills and competencies students need to survive and thrive after completing formal education.

They encourage critical and creative thinking.

Innovative schools promote problem-solving, discussion, and active engagement with the environment. Learning by making and doing is high on the agenda, and students connect the learning process to what they actually learn.

They employ creatively designed learning spaces.

They have spaces that are flexible and include intriguing features. Innovative building design encourages teachers and learners to take risks and to experiment. These schools also tend to blend on-site and off-site learning.