February 2011


  • Digital dangers
    Recent research shows that many schools feel they are ill-equipped to train staff in e-safety. Julie Nightingale looks at what schools can do to improve teachers’ understanding of online risks. More
  • Freedom and choice or a heavy burden?
    Half of ASCL members at the autumn information conferences said they were considering academy status but were still undecided. Here, Brian Rossiter explains why his school has opted to take the academy route… More
  • Joining forces
    Closing a school brings a raft of practical headaches as well as a heavy emotional toll, as Peter Crowe found out when he oversaw the federation and eventual closure of a neighbouring school 18 months ago. More
  • Ensuring natural selection
    In December’s Leader, Richard Fawcett gave his top tips for writing an application that gets noticed. Here, he looks at what you can do to ensure you make the right impression on the interview day. More
  • Be better together
    The schools white paper has set out plans for a national network of teaching schools. Steve Munby of the National College, which is playing a major role in the initiative, outlines the vision and answers some key questions. More
Bookmark and Share

The schools white paper has set out plans for a national network of teaching schools. Steve Munby of the National College, which is playing a major role in the initiative, outlines the vision and answers some key questions.

Be better together

The quality of school leadership is better than it has ever been and more schools and young people are succeeding as a result.

But if that trend is to continue – and all young people are to get the opportunities they deserve – we need school leaders to take on a much greater role in developing their own and each other’s staff and in supporting each other to improve.

The very best schools should be at the heart of this approach: not as beacons that others are expected to learn from irrespective of context, but as strategic partners, working together with other schools to share skills and expertise and enable each other to provide the very best leadership development.

In the schools white paper, the government has set out its proposal for teaching schools: a new national network of outstanding schools which, with their partners, will lead the training and professional development of teachers and headteachers. They will be schools with a strong track record in developing leaders and in working with other schools. There is already a firm foundation for this way of working. We know that two out of every five schools do much of their leadership development themselves.

The teaching schools pilot in the London Challenge area supported more than 1,500 London teachers while, in recent years, the National College has increasingly applied a more practical, school-based approach to leadership development. Our middle leadership development initiative, for example, is about local clusters of schools delivering their own professional development that draws on best practice from across the group.

The college, working with the DfE and the TDA, will quality assure and accredit teaching schools’ work, provide them with support, help create regional and national networks, and manage their designation.

The pilot Teaching School work in London, Greater Manchester and the Black Country shows that the concept can work really well, but it does take time for schools to build their capacity. That’s why we think the Teaching School model should build up slowly to make it as manageable as possible for schools.

Schools will also be able to join together to create a ‘cluster’ Teaching School if they want to, enabling them to pool their respective talents. This might be a very desirable approach for smaller schools.

The first round of applications is due to open in April with the first schools taking up the role in September 2011. The aim is to have 500 in operation by 2014. We envisage that teaching schools will receive significant funding to carry out the core role but exact arrangements will be confirmed later in the spring.

Teaching schools are not about inventing a new designation but are about building on the best of what already exists. But the initiative will only work if all schools seize the opportunity to shape it so that it works for their context.

It is critical, therefore, that the college hears your views on what will make this successful. To that end we’ve launched a consultation so we can create the teaching schools approach together.

I genuinely believe that its seeds are already established. The best schools are working together now to provide great professional and leadership development and to support each other to improve. Teaching schools can help accelerate the pace and embed that approach so all schools can benefit.

  • Steve Munby is chief executive of the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services.

Teaching schools: The basics

The role of teaching schools

Teaching schools will span both school improvement and professional development. Their main role will be to provide strategic leadership and to help a partnership of schools to improve. To be successful a teaching school will need to build relationships that draw on the strengths of the different partners, recognise the key areas for improvement across the area and focus collective effort on building capacity and addressing these priorities.

The key responsibilities will be:

  • ITT: ensuring there is a significant number of high quality placements for school-based ITT in the local area.
  • CPD: providing professional development for teachers and leaders and creating a strong professional development culture across all schools in the partnership.
  • Talent management: securing a supply of leaders for headship.
  • School-to-school support: offering support themselves, as Local Leaders of Education (LLEs) and National Leaders of Education (NLEs) do but also brokering LLEs and designating and brokering the new Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) – highly effective middle and senior leaders who have capacity and commitment to work beyond their own school.
  • They will also broker mentor support for new heads from experienced heads in the partnership.
  • Research, innovation and participation in regional and national networks and policy development.

It’s important to note that the teaching school itself might not always play the lead role as other schools in the partnership will often have significant expertise and capacity in one or more areas.

Who can apply to be a Teaching School?

All schools in England that meet the criteria, regardless of type or phase, will be able to apply. Our thinking is that teaching schools will need to demonstrate:

  • a track record of successful, collaborative relationships with partner schools
  • an Ofsted rating of outstanding for overall effectiveness, teaching and learning, and leadership and manage consistently high levels of pupil performance or continued improvement
  • proven capacity within their schools to provide support and development to other schools

Have your say

The first phase of consultation runs until early March and is focused on how best we can designate teaching schools. Between March and May we will run a series of regional events to discuss how teaching schools should work in practice. Visit www.nationalcollege.org.uk/consultations and take part in the National College’s survey on teaching schools at http://lg.ncsl.org.uk/survey/view_survey.cfm?surveyID=1505

Find out more
For additional information go to www.nationalcollege.org.uk/ teachingschools If you’d like more information about Teaching School status, email TSRegistrationOfInterest@nationalcollege.org.uk

ASCL's response

ASCL’s Professional Committee debated teaching schools and initial training at the December Council meeting. The committee agreed the following positions, which will inform ASCL’s consultation response and discussions with the National College.

Position 1 The committee genuinely welcomed the opportunity for schools and groups of schools, also extending to the FE sector, which were described as excellent as opposed to outstanding, to be centrally involved in initial teacher training.

However, there was strong opposition to the notion that only schools graded ‘outstanding’ could apply for teaching school status. ASCL will stress that many good schools which cannot attain an outstanding Ofsted grade have excellent training and professional development. An outstanding Ofsted grade does not mean a school excels at training or has the capacity or desire to act as a CPD hub. For trainees it could limit opportunities to experience the full range of teaching environments. On a practical level, there are less than 650 schools graded outstanding and the aim is 500 teaching schools.

Position 2 The committee recognises that excellence does not imply excellence across the provision in one institution.

The committee agreed that a consortia approach to training was preferable as groups of schools and colleges would be able to access the best subject and training departments in the region. This creates a stronger training system and is more effective than placing trainees in universities. Consortia, and their funding arrangements, should be extended to include sixth form colleges.

Position 3 There needs to be an effective balance struck between practical in-school and theory based aspects of training.

Position 4 The committee believes that funding must be effectively channelled towards the aims the government wants met.

Be better together