Effective school partnerships

The Department for Education has recently released a report looking at the evidence available on collaboration and partnerships between schools and their effectiveness in improving schools.

As we know, the landscape for school improvement has massively changed over recent times:

  • Schools themselves are more responsible for their own destinies;
  • National accreditation and qualifications are the norm;
  • School-to-school support is perceived as the way ahead for real change;
  • Schools are grouping various formations to challenge each other and be managed.

Effective school partnerships and collaboration for school improvement: a review of the evidence’, the DfE’s latest report, has key findings that shouldn’t surprise the reader. Leadership is shifting away from institutional leadership to educational leadership across wider geographic areas. Shared governance is growing, schools are positive about inter-school collegiality. Conditions for effective collaboration and challenges are clearly indicated in the report.

"For schools to move to the next level, it’s essential that they engage in partnerships that involve rigour and challenge. The only way that schools can ensure that they are gaining access to the best available practice is by having the opportunity to articulate to their peers their own strengths and areas for development."
Gary Wilkie1, Learning in Harmony Trust

Best Practice Network has always seen school to school support as vital to the future prosperity of the profession. Most of our programmes contain a strand of inter-school work and indeed participants really enjoy hearing about practice in inter-schools. The SPEER programme, for example, involves peer schools evaluating each other with a consultant overseeing the process.

Gary Wilkie is a National Leader of Education and the Chief Executive Officer of the Learning in Harmony Trust, a new academy trust based in Newham.

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