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School culture: Methods for improving a negative school culture

  • Regional Institute of Education (NCERT), Ajmer


Cultural trends influence children's educational involvement. For the most part, the term "school culture" refers to the beliefs, thoughts, relations, mind-sets, and written and unwritten norms that influence and shape every aspect of how a school operates. There are two sorts of school cultures. Positive and negative school cultures. Several measures to improve academic performance and alter how schools operate have emphasised the role of school culture. Disagreements often arise as a result of pertinent reform proposals instead of the broader purpose of improving school culture. This study comprises signs of negative school culture and ways of building positive school culture.
School culture: Methods for improving a negative school culture
Vaibhav Verma
Student B.A. B.Ed, Department of Education, Prarambh State Institute of Advanced Studies in Teacher Education, Jhajjar, Haryana,
Cultural trends influence children's educational involvement. For the most part, the term "school culture" refers to the beliefs, thoughts,
relations, mind-sets, and written and unwritten norms that influence and shape every aspect of how a school operates. There are two
sorts of school cultures. Positive and negative school cultures. Several measures to improve academic performance and alter how schools
operate have emphasised the role of school culture. Disagreements often arise as a result of pertinent reform proposals instead of the
broader purpose of improving school culture. This study comprises signs of negative school culture and ways of building positive school
Keywords: school culture, school education, signs of negative school culture, building positive school culture
India has achieved significant progress in enrolling children in
school during the last decade. According to the World Bank's
collection of development indicators derived from officially
recognised sources, primary school enrolment (percent gross) in
India was reported at 96.83 percent in 2019. While Asia
dominated the global fall in out-of-school children after 2000,
India accounted for the majority of the fall.
Language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music, and the arts are
all examples of cultural qualities and knowledge. The Center for
Advanced Research on Language Acquisition has defined culture
as “common patterns of behaviours and interactions, cognitive
structures, and knowledge that are gained through socialisation”.
As a result, it can be viewed as the development of a group
identity encouraged by social processes specific to the group.
“Culture encompasses religion, food, what we wear, how we
wear it, our language, marriage, music, what we believe is right
or wrong, how we sit at the table, how we greet visitors, how we
behave with loved ones, and a million other things,” quoted
Cristina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate
College in London.
The term “culture” comes from a French term, which originates
from the Latin “colere,” which meaning to tend to the earth and
grow, or to cultivate and nurture. “It has the same etymology as
several other words connected to endorsing growth,” De Rossi
Children's educational participation is influenced by their cultural
tendencies. Teachers must know their students and their
academic strengths personally to effectively engage them in the
learning process, rather than relying on racial or ethnic
stereotypes or prior experience with other students of similar
backgrounds. Individualist and collectivist cultures can both be
used to define proper school behaviour. Teachers who are
unfamiliar with a culture may misunderstand a child's behaviour
and incorrectly label students as misbehaving or disrespectful.
Objectives of the Study
The purpose of this research is to identify concerns of negative
school cultures emerging in schools and to overcome such
toxicity by building positive school culture.
This study follows the narrative review approach. Articles related
to school culture were searched and examined to reach the
objectives of this study.
Teachers cannot avoid the fact that their communication “styles”
are influenced by their cultural background. Much of what they
say, how they say it, and how they interact with children, parents,
and colleagues are heavily influenced by how they were
socialised. Race and ethnicity frequently play important roles in
children's identities, influencing their behaviour and attitudes.
Recognising this can help pupils flourish in a school culture that
is unfamiliar with standards and communication.
The term school culture for the most part alludes to the beliefs,
insights, relationships, mentalities, and composed & unwritten
rules that shape and impact each part of how a school functions,
however, the term likewise includes more substantial issues like
the physical and mental wellbeing of children, the efficiency of
study halls and public spaces, or how much a school embraces
and celebrates racial, ethnic, linguistic, or social diversity.
A school culture, like the social culture, is formed by both
conscious and unconscious attitudes, values, relationships, and
practices, and it is highly influenced by a school's specific
institutional history. Students, parents, teachers, administrators,
and other staff members all contribute to the culture of their
school, as do other influences such as the community in which
the school is located, the policies that govern how the school
operates, or the ideals upon which the school was formed.
According to Thomas J. Sergiovanni, Culture is the most
International Journal of Educational Research and Studies
Online ISSN: 2664-6811, Print ISSN: 2664-6803
Received: 21-05-2021, Accepted: 03-06-2021, Published: 21-06-2021
Volume 3, Issue 2, 2021, Page No. 14-17
International Journal of Educational Research and Studies
powerful source of leverage for bringing about change in a school
or any organization, for that matter.
School cultures can be broadly classified into two types:
1. Positive School Cultures.
2. Negative School Cultures.
Numerous researchers, educators, and authors have sought to
define the major characteristics of positive and negative school
cultures, and there is a plethora of studies, articles, and books on
the subject. Furthermore, several educational groups, such as the
National School Climate Center, have provided thorough
definitions of positive school cultures and techniques for
enhancing them. Positive school cultures, broadly defined, are
beneficial to both professional satisfaction, morale, and
effectiveness, as well as student learning, fulfilment, and well-
Positive school culture or climate is one in which students feel
appreciated, cared for, and respected. Such an environment
promotes high-quality education as well as genuine engagement
both in and out of the school.
According to a study, school culture is very important. “Positive
learning can occur only in a positive culture. A positive school
culture will have a greater impact on student and teacher success
than any other reform or school improvement endeavour now in
place” – Gary Phillips.
The following is a representative list of some of the qualities that
are usually connected with positive school cultures:
1. Individual accomplishments of teachers and students are
acknowledged and appreciated.
2. Transparency, honesty, respect, and gratitude define
3. Faculty connections are convivial, cooperative, and creative,
and all personnel is expected to high-quality standards.
4. Students and staff members believe mentally and
psychologically protected, and the school's rules and
resources encourage student safety.
5. Constructive, healthy practices are exhibited for students by
school administrators, instructors, and members of staff.
6. Errors are not perceived as failures, but rather as
opportunities to learn and improve for both students and
7. Students are consistently driven to academic excellence, and
the vast majority of them achieve or surpass those standards.
8. Essential leadership issues are addressed collectively, with
involvement from faculty, students, and parents.
9. All students, including minorities and those with
impairments, receive equitable access to educational
facilities and learning opportunities
10. All students have access to assistance and facilities that they
may desire to achieve.
Positive school culture is distinguished not just by the elimination
of discrimination, ferocity, or discipline issues, but also by the
presence of a system of standards and values that focus
everyone's attention on what matters most and drive them to work
hard toward a common goal.
Occasionally, the culture develops dysfunctional ideals and
beliefs, negative customs, and caustic ways of engaging. These
are referred to as toxic school cultures or negative school cultures.
These cultures are discouraging in nature. Toxic environments in
schools induce a swing in emphasis away from student
Signs of toxic school culture:
1. Ineffective leadership.
2. Differential treatment.
3. A lack of diversity.
4. Unpredictability and ambiguity in communication.
5. Threatening and Punishing.
6. Inappropriate behaviour.
7. Inequality.
8. There is no assistance with student behaviour issues.
9. Embarrassing behaviours
10. The principal is unappreciative of his employees.
11. Hostile relations among faculty.
12. Permitting educators to be abused.
13. Intimidating analyses.
14. Feeling obligated to contribute additional time and
15. The Teachers do not have the administration’s support.
16. Ineffective communication.
17. Relocating instructors without their consent.
18. There is no recognition for your achievements.
In negative school culture, faculty consider pupils to be a burden
instead of a valued client. They’re occasionally a part of toxic
subgenres which are antagonistic and critical of the change. They
do no explore new ideas, methods, and strategies as they assume
to be doing their utmost. They tend to share unpleasant,
disheartening, and demoralising stories and historical
perspectives on the school. Concepts, resources, or remedies to
classroom concerns are rarely shared. Complain, criticise, and be
sceptical of any new ideas, strategies, or opportunities for the
future put forward by planning committees. There are very few
ceremonies or school customs that celebrate what is optimistic
and upbeat about their institution.
These schools are not enjoyable places to work, and they rarely
try to improve things. Toxic cultures stymie and hinder reform
attempts in a variety of ways. Faculty here feels fear of being
criticised or ridiculed for offering fresh ideas and suggestions.
Due to the pessimism and sense of hopelessness produced by
antagonistic faculty who refuse to recognise that progress is
feasible, planning sessions led by the school development council
or committee are frequently half-hearted. New employees who
introduce a vision of opportunity and enthusiasm are promptly
suppressed and re-socialized into negative mind-sets. Projects
collapse due to the absence of desire. Proposed initiatives fail to
be implemented because inspiration and dedication to change are
inadequate or non-existent.
Nobody wishes to operate in such institutions. However,
reforming these crumbling institutions requires direction,
patience, and dedication. Many schools, thankfully, are not this
awful, but many have these kinds of cultural patterns that make
improvement problematic.
Many initiatives to transform how schools operate and enhance
educational outcomes have centred on the concept of school
culture. While a school's institutional past has a strong influence
on its culture, it also generates social patterns, habits, and
dynamics that impact future actions, which can impede change
and progress.
International Journal of Educational Research and Studies
A school leader is necessary to uphold their institution's culture,
their roles in building a positive school culture can be defined in
three steps. Firstly by analysing and comprehending their
school’s present culture. This entails watching educators'
behaviours in the classroom and faculty meetings, as well as
learning students' general opinions regarding the school and the
staff. Secondly identifying the elements of their school that
enhance the ambiance and those that produce negative emotions
in educators and learners. Lastly identifying the positive elements
of their school culture and entail other ideals, behaviours, or
qualities that they would like to see in their school. Then, take
measures to enhance those positive attributes and foster a positive
school culture.
Developing action plans can also aid in coping with negative
cultural concerns. An Action Plan is a strategy for organising a
district or school improvement process. It could take the shape of
a school management document or a publicly available site.
Action plans may be evaluated and amended on an annual basis
depending on progress made during the previous year or to reflect
shifting school goals and values, however, multiyear action plans
are also popular. An action plan often contains information such
as a school's improvement goals, specific strategies or techniques,
roles and responsibilities, and so on.
To overcome such toxicity in school culture there are several
ways to build positive school culture.
1. Cultivate solid relationships.
2. Teach positive life skills.
3. Inspire students by serving as role models.
4. Promote problem-solving skills for all students.
5. Acknowledge students for making wise decisions.
6. Lay down criticism and hostility, face-to-face and strive to
deflect negativity.
7. Safeguard novel sources of positive concentration and effort.
8. Deliberately seek out more creative and innovative
9. Embrace the excellent and improving aspects of the school
with zeal.
10. Invest time, energy, and resources in the effectiveness of
enhancement practices and initiatives.
11. Reconnect teachers towards the goal to encourage all
children in learning and flourishing.
12. Facilitate positive parental participation as a priority.
13. Honour personal accomplishments and ethical behaviour.
14. Adopt values-based school norms.
15. Follow a systematic measure of discipline.
16. Exhibit the behaviours you want to see in your institution.
17. Engaging learners in activities that will benefit them.
18. Cultivate engaging customs and beliefs for students and
19. Foster students’ creativity in the classroom.
20. Professional development for faculty.
21. Keep your school's physical surroundings in good condition.
22. Keep a keen eye on your school's culture and adjust
It is the responsibility of school leaders, principals, teachers, and
sometimes parents to assist in eliminating the crippling effects of
negative cultures and creating and reinforcing positive student-
focused cultures. Reforms will stagnate in the absence of
constructive, collaborative environments, faculty’s enthusiasm
and dedication will dwindle, and student learning will deteriorate.
Putting together a management team comprised of a diverse
group of school officials, educators, students, parents, and the
local community to assess and steer a school improvement
program. Assessing students, parents, and educators regarding
their school perspectives as well as organising discussion boards
in which stakeholders are invited to deliver their perspectives on
and ideas for the school and its initiatives. Forming an advisory
service that connects groups of students with professional
advisers to develop adult-student interactions and ensuring that
students are well acquainted and encouraged by at least one
professional in the school. Offering conferences, workshops, and
unique lessons to educate students and staff concerning
harassment and prevent such incidents.
Fostering learning communities that empower teachers to
interact, exchange knowledge, and operate more cooperatively
and effectively. Conducting training and learning environments
that dignify and embrace the student body's ethnic, racial, and
linguistic diversity, such as sponsoring cultural festivals and
events, displaying culturally appropriate components throughout
the school, encouraging traditional indigenous leaders to interact
with students, or creating a vital connection among students'
diverse cultural backgrounds and what has been taught.
As a result, disagreements tend to rise in response to specific
reform concepts rather than the overarching goal of enhancing
school culture. However, given that institutional dysfunction is,
by specification, an ensconced pattern of often unconscious
behaviours, attitudes, and beliefs that obstruct organisational
change and enhancement because humans can become strongly
attached to emotions and behaviours that make them less happy,
fulfilled, productive, or successful attempts to reform school
cultures may be more prone to failure.
In recent years, school culture issues have been mentioned as
causes for school closures or the dismissal of a major percentage
of the teaching personnel. In many circumstances, “school
culture” may become a catalyst in larger arguments about specific
school-reform policies and techniques.
Negative School Culture can take many years to improve as it is
highly influenced by a school's specific institutional history.
Planned measures and attitudes towards dealing with toxic
culture are very crucial for building a positive culture, it is not an
overnight process. However, this will come with its worth. Since
all school cultures are special, it is essential to research and foster
comprehension of the fundamental reasons for any discussions,
including the prior social conditions that might be adding to the
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Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers,
2. Fareed A. School culture, 2013.
3. Futterman L. Beyond the Classroom: The impact of culture
on the classroom, 2015.
International Journal of Educational Research and Studies
4. Huisman J, Rani U, Smits J. School characteristics, socio-
economic status and culture as determinants of primary
school enrolment in India, 2010.
5. India - School Enrollment, Primary (% Gross). (n.d.).
6. Moshman R. (n.d.). 20 Signs of a Toxic School Culture to Be
Aware of.
7. O’Callarain, L. School culture, 2016. https://www.slide
8. Raudys J. 11 Real Ways to Build a Positive School Culture,
9. School Culture, 2013.
10. Verma V. Action Research in Academics: A Brief
Introduction, 2021. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.36543.43684.
11. Zimmermann K, 2017. What is Culture?. https://www.
... Negative school culture, in turn, is characterised by negative interpersonal relationships, indifference, and students' non-involvement in decision-making, emphasising failure and lack of togetherness [5] and contributing to a low level of collaboration, passivity, pessimism, frustration, negative attitudes towards teaching and learning (cf. [42]), and lack of clear sense of purpose and energy [40]. Inappropriate communication and antagonism [38] are also typical features of negative school culture. ...
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School culture includes values, principles, and criteria. It is an integral part of sustainability education, of which climate change education (CCE) is seen as a way to improve students’ ability to take action to mitigate climate change. This survey aimed to investigate Finnish student teachers’ views of factors important in implementing CCE in school culture and their abilities as teachers to promote CCE. Thirty-six student teachers wrote essays regarding the implementation of school culture and responded to a questionnaire concerning their ability to act as climate change (CC) educators and the challenges they identified in teaching and learning about it. Inductive content analysis was used to study the essays. In student teachers’ answers, six themes to implement in school culture were identified: elements, work community, teacher’s impact, students in the centre, actors outside the school, and challenges. The student teachers highlighted challenges, such as views that deny CC and challenge the transformation of school culture to support sustainable development. The suggested ways to support CCE in daily school life that were very concrete, such as recycling and food education. Student teachers found their own ability to act as climate educators to be relatively good. They identified challenges, especially in motivating students to learn about CC and to participate and take action towards a climate-friendly lifestyle. Students’ conflicting attitudes, values, and beliefs related to CC, reinforced by their inner circle, were seen as challenges in teaching and learning about CC. Despite these challenges, transforming a school culture to support CCE should be the goal of every school.
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All the content in the below file "Action Research in Academics; A Brief Introduction" were retrieved from various sources that are mentioned in the references in the file that are compiled by Vaibhav Verma. This presentation mainly focuses on Action Research and Hypotheses in academics and covers the following topics. This can give a clear view of Action Research and Hypothesis in education. It covers Meaning of Action Research and Hypothesis, Definitions of Action Research, Types of Action Research, History of Action Research, Scope of Action Research, Aims of Action Research, Objectives of Action Research, Characteristics of Action Research, Importance of Action Research, Principles of Action Research, Elements of Action Research, Models of Action Research, Steps of Action Research, Advantages of Action Research, Limitations of Action Research, Nature of Hypothesis, Main features of Hypothesis, Roles of Hypothesis, Functions of Hypothesis, Sources of Hypothesis, Uses of Hypothesis, Forms of Hypothesis, Formulation of Hypothesis, Testing of Hypothesis, Challenging of Hypothesis, and Criteria for evaluating Hypothesis. Other than this it includes Action Research Questions, and Formulation of Action Research Questions, Action Plan, What-Why-When develop an Action Plan, How does Action Plan help, Components of an Action Plan Framework, VMOSA, Contents of an Action Plan, Action Plan Matrix, Action Plan Proposal Structure, and Action Plan Report Structure.
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We test hypotheses on the role of socio-economic and cultural factors and of characteristics of the educational infrastructure on primary school enrolment using data for 70,000 children living in 439 districts of 26 states of India. Most of the variation in educational enrolment (around 70%) is explained by factors at the household level, of which socio-economic factors are most important. In urban areas, none of the characteristics of educational facilities studied is significantly related to participation, thus indicating that in the cities schooling decisions are hardly influenced by supply-side factors. In rural areas, however, these factors do play an important role. If there are fewer schools or teachers, or if the local culture is more patriarchal, rural children – in particular girls – participate substantially less. Interaction analyses show that effects of factors at the household level depend on characteristics of the context in which the household lives. A major finding in this respect is that in rural areas inequalities between socio-economic status groups are lower if more schools and teachers are available.
Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership
  • T Deal
  • K Peterson
Deal T, Peterson K. Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1998. Year_1998/Nov_98_Reform_Talk_11.html
Beyond the Classroom: The impact of culture on the classroom
  • L Futterman
Futterman L. Beyond the Classroom: The impact of culture on the classroom, 2015. news/local/community/miami-dade/communityvoices/article36727782.html
20 Signs of a Toxic School Culture to Be Aware of
  • R Moshman
Moshman R. (n.d.). 20 Signs of a Toxic School Culture to Be Aware of.
11 Real Ways to Build a Positive School Culture
  • J Raudys
Raudys J. 11 Real Ways to Build a Positive School Culture, 2018.