Drivers of good practice

Drivers of good practice

Applications for the new Teaching Hubs close on 30 October. Sally Bishop looks at the challenges and opportunities this new development will provide for schools.

When the first teaching schools were designated in 2011 it was a major step towards what was described as the school-led system.

 Teaching schools led alliances of schools to lead on school-to-school improvement and support on a local level, using their local connections and expertise to tap into the improvement needs of schools in their local areas.

 From an initial 100 teaching schools, this soon bloomed to around 750 across England. On the one hand, this was a great development, but it has also led to some areas becoming cluttered with overlapping and often competing teaching schools. It has in some areas become inefficient and clunky and not as joined up as it should be.


The case for teaching school hubs

The fact the school-led system has also become much more complex over the past decade has driven the need for change. Now we have a multitude of overlapping structures and groupings such as multi-academy trusts, curriculum hubs and research schools, to name but a few. Add into this the government’s strategy for the recruitment and development of teachers; new professional development programmes are being created that will give excellent classroom teachers more professional learning opportunities that will allow them to stay in the classroom. This CPD, alongside existing leadership programmes, needs a much more strategic approach to collaboration across a much wider area. Teaching school hubs should be able to provide the coherence and energy the system needs.

Applications to become one of 87 teaching school hubs opened in September with a 30 October deadline. The new teaching school hubs are expected to begin operation in September 2021. High performing schools, rated good or outstanding, can apply to become a hub school, which is expected to serve a network of between 200 and 300 schools. They don’t have to be an existing teaching school.


Supporting teaching school hubs

Outstanding Leaders Partnership, supported by Best Practice Network, has been working hand in hand with teaching schools, MATS and diocese trusts since 2012, helping these groups develop and deliver high-quality professional development.

One of the requirements of a Teaching School Hub is the delivery of a ‘golden thread’ of quality CPD, including the current and forthcoming National Professional Qualifications. OLP can provide hubs with a clear professional development pathway from the early career framework (ECF) through to the NPQ in executive leadership.

This is all be supported with back-office services including programme marketing and recruitment, quality assurance and delivery support, as well as an innovative partner dashboard designed to give OLP partners a complete overview of the OLP programmes they deliver.

This dashboard, developed by Best Practice Network, will give teaching school hubs a uniquely detailed insight into the impact OLP’s NPQ programmes have on the professional development of participants and a range of insights, including strengths and areas for development across an area, giving the hub the capability to accurately target its CPD provision.


The power of collaboration

Collaboration on a scale previously unseen will be needed to make the new teaching school hubs work effectively.

There’s a great example of this high-level regional collaboration in the East of England. There, Lesley Birch, CEO of Cambridge Primary Education Trust (CPET), plays a leading role on a regional level.

She is the East of England representative on the National Teaching Schools Council, seeking to raise attainment across the region by coordinating the school improvement work of teaching school alliances across the East of England and north London.

Lesley is also hosting meetings for all teaching school alliances across her large region to get together and formulate the best way forward together in response to the teaching school hub initiative.

That regional approach to collaboration is built on firm foundations; as a key player in Cambridge Teaching Schools Network (CTSN), CPET provides ITT and CPD expertise for schools across Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and West Suffolk, complementing the school-to-school support expertise of CTSN partners.

The challenges – and opportunities – faced by schools over the next few years are many. With teaching school hubs, we have a chance to build on our achievements and take the school-led system to greater heights.



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