Quality Schools

In our schools we tend to accept that it will be a constant battle to get students to learn.  As teachers we seem to be in a continual struggle, frequently faced with disruptive behaviour that impedes the learning process of all.  Glasser believes that this is due to what he calls “schooling”, an approach based on rote-learning and external control.  There is a growing number of schools who have chosen to use Choice Theory psychology as their fundamental approach and this has led to amazing changes in the ethos of the school and the levels of achievement of the students.

The term “Glasser Quality School” (GQS) applies to a school that functions according to Choice Theory principles.

This means that staff  operate from the belief that it is impossible to control another human being.  If we wish to influence people then we need to create a satisfying relationship with them and, indeed, a satisfying environment in the school. As the primary task of teachers is to influence it follows that a good working relationship between teachers and pupils becomes an important priority. The school, its staff, its subject content, its environment and general ethos should be need-satisfying to all who share in the educational enterprise. This means improving the quality of the student work and the teaching.

Glasser believes that many if not most of our schools tend to be far from need-satisfying places for staff and students. He writes that this traditional experience of school “is so unsatisfying to students (and teachers), more and more students are actively resisting and this resistance is seen as a discipline problem. School administrators then fall into the trap of thinking that discipline problems, not unsatisfying education, are the cause of low levels of achievement.” (Glasser, William. The Quality School: Managing Students Without Coercion. New York: Harper Collins. 1990 /2nd Ed 1992.)

In contrast he outlines how a “Quality School” would describe itself:

We run a caring school, teach useful skills and knowledge, give all a chance to improve what they do and, therefore, to succeed, talk to all students in a warm and friendly way, teach them and encourage them to work together, demonstrate that we know what we are doing and that we believe it is good both for them and for us and try as hard as we can to persuade them to begin to do quality work. In this school, the staff does not fail anyone: Any student who is willing to work will ultimately succeed. We are aware of fun and plan to help them to have as much fun as possible in what they do everyday and also in planning enjoyable school activities. We will always work with them to make what rules we all agree we need and to change any rule that is not working.

How important is a Quality School approach?

As far back as 1969 Glassser wrote in “Schools Without Failure”: “Unless we can provide schools where children, through a reasonable use of their capacities, can succeed, we will do little to solve the major problems of our country. We will have more social disturbances, more people who need to be kept in jails, prisons, and mental hospitals, more people who need social workers to take care of their lives because they feel they cannot succeed in this society and are no longer willing to try.

A major aim of a Quality School is to help young people learn about success. The caring atmosphere encouraged by Glasser is not merely a humanistic icing on the cake of education; it is the essential ingredient needed for real learning to take place.

Is it difficult to become a Glasser Quality School?

Yes. It is quite a challenging project for a school to undertake but it is much more effective and rewarding than an approach based on external control psychology.

What could I read?

Recommended Reading: Every Student Can Succeed

Recommended Viewing: Glasser Quality Schools In Action (DVD)

 Where can I get further information?

We recommend you to read Glasser’s “Quality School” and then our page Becoming a GQS.



In October 2008 a group of teachers and students from Murray High School in the USA gave a one day workshop about their Quality School.  Young people who had a range of difficulties with main-stream education found that the totally new approach in Murray High School opened doors of hope for them.  Their competence in these presentations masks the major change in life-style that the school helped them make.

See the videos of Glasser Quality Schools in Action here.

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