Do you go to the same coffee shop on a regular basis? Is there something about the experience that continues to draw you in? Is it the cookie that is placed by the saucer? Is it the white china cup or the friendly smile that makes you feel special? Are you drawn to the aroma as you walk in, the plush leather sofas and the jazz music playing in the background? It is more than just the coffee…it is the unique signature experience that draws you in time and time again.

Now think about schools. Have you ever walked into a school and just thought “Wow, this is an amazing place”? Within an hour you get a sense of what the school’s priorities are and how it is uniquely different from others. Maybe the teachers are specialists in maths and science. Maybe the school is focussed on creative arts, innovation, critical thinking, literacy. In all cases, these unique experiences are what we at GSE call the “Signature School Experience.”

“Your school’s signature experience is what you do especially well; it’s the unique method, skill, event, practice or process that makes your school stand out in people’s minds.” (Greg Parry , GSE CEO)

All great schools have a signature experience or several that send a strong message about who they are and what they are best at. They are many and varied. Whether it is literacy or numeracy, leadership, sports or the arts. Just as other industries are represented by signature experiences, so are schools. These are often the programs celebrated across the world as “best practice” but more importantly, parents and children share stories across their networks. The signature experience concept is widely understood and used across many industries.

Focussing on and developing signature experiences in schools can bring a number of benefits to both students and teachers. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Increased student engagement and motivation: A signature school experience allow schools to create unique and memorable learning experiences for students, which can lead to increased engagement and motivation in the classroom.
  2. Differentiation from other schools: Signature school experiences can help schools stand out from other schools by offering something unique and special that cannot be found elsewhere.
  3. Positive school perception: Positive experiences and memories associated with the school can lead to a more positive perception of the school overall.
  4. Increased teacher satisfaction: Signature school experiences can also lead to increased job satisfaction for teachers, as they can take pride in creating unique and memorable learning experiences for students.
  5. Development of 21st century skills: Signature experiences can be designed to develop skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.
  6. Real-world connection: Signature experiences can create a deeper connection between what students are learning and the real world, making learning more meaningful and relevant to students.
  7. Encouraging creativity and innovation: Signature experiences can encourage students to think creatively and with innovation, developing skills that will be important for their future careers.

As experienced educators we know that these experiences are signs of greatness. “Average” schools just don’t have strong highlights to share with such vigour. We recommend that schools choose priorities wisely and focus energy in ways that they can achieve growth and improvement. Write and publish a school vision and mission that is achievable. Then, shine a bright spotlight on success that reflects this. Every school should have a unique voice and signature experience that proves that your practice reflects this.

A list of some of our favourite “signature school experiences:”

  • Children smiling in the hallways and saying hi to visitors passing by.
  • Principal is accessible, accomodating and clearly puts children/parent needs first
  • Classrooms are “messy with learning”. Walls decorated, resource rich, active and practical activities are always evident.
  • Literacy is prioritised as evidenced by extra time allocation, above average results….and everyone is talking about it.
  • “Innovation” is in the school mission but it is clearly demonstrated in all areas from classroom practice, design of physical spaces through to the way decisions are made by school leaders.
  • Children own their learning and success including very engaging and authentic student led 3 way conferences
  • “Can I help you” is something everyone says when they meet a visitor for the first time
  • Students are focussed on fun and engaging learning in contrast to dominating discipline systems that control behaviour

What is your signature school experience?


Who is Global Services in Education (GSE)

Global Services in Education is a company led by education experts. They are proven education leaders who know how to set up and manage international schools. GSE can lead any project from the initial idea to set up and full management. Kindergarten, Primary, Middle and High School, Universities and Adult Education.

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CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry

Greg Parry

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Signature school experiences
Signature Experiences Represent Everlasting Reputations