What does your office say about your standards? (And a free checklist for you)

It’s the start of a new school year, welcome back!

I know how this is a really key time for setting standards and expectations in your school.

And as a school leader who wants to give their children the very best school there is one key area that sets your standards for everyone.

And it’s often overlooked.

Where? Your office!

Why is it important?

This is the one place you have almost total control in your school. Almost everywhere is used by multiple people, but probably not your space.

Look around it. 

What is it saying?

  • I’m busy?
  • I try to keep this place organised but it’s hard?
  • I set the highest standards for myself and my team?

Environment is a silent teacher

And it’s always teaching.

In fact it’s one of the key ways I can judge a school accurately – because environment is emblematic of how great (or not) your culture is.

I’ve shared with many schools how they can improve their environment to reflect the standards they want. And they are shocked at how small changes make a huge difference.

So how can you improve your space, quickly and easily (because I know that you really are busy).

  1. Clear the clutter – if you think you’ll need it at some point, put a post-it note with a date on it and box it up, out of the way and out of sight. When you’re next considering if you need it you’ll have the date you last looked at it and if it’s more than 6 months I bet you don’t need it.
  2. Clear the dumping grounds, even better give them a new purpose. Dumping grounds take the form the tops of cupboards, empty tables, spaces around printers. Clear them and keep them clear, and by giving those spots a new purpose (like a plant, a pen pot) can help keep them clear (because a clear surface is far too tempting to leave something on).
  3. Bring your personality into the room – yes you want high standards in your school but I bet you also want personality. So bring a bit of yourself into the room if you haven’t already. That might be photos, a colourful cushion, some nice plants in pots, framed artwork from your children. Something that let’s people see yes you have high standards but you’re also the warm human that you are.

This might sound superficial, silly even, but we apply this all the time to our pupils:

  • How smartly are they dressed?
  • How well is the work presented?

Try it in one space, ideally your office, and see if it doesn’t make a difference. See if it doesn’t set a higher standard and expectation.

Want more tips? 

Download my 7  point checklist and give it anyone with an office, in fact it works well in classrooms as well.


The environment is a silent teacher.

It’s constantly communicating your standards.

And the standard you walk by, is the standard you accept.

Leave a Reply