Recently our Director of Teaching School and the London Representative on the Teaching Schools Council , Mr David Whitfield was interviewed by ‘The Key’ who develop case studies to answer questions from Headteachers and SLT members about leadership in schools. David was answering:
“Acquiring teaching school status: what does it mean?”
What does it mean to acquire teaching school status?We outline information from the National College about becoming a teaching school.
We also relay some of the benefits and challenges associated with teaching school status, as described by three teaching school directors.
What does teaching school status mean?
Who can apply to be a teaching school?
The National College for Teaching and Leadership (National College) has information about teaching school status,available on GOV.UK. It says that teaching school status is open to all types and phases of schools in England.
To apply for this status, a school must have been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted,give evidence of successful partnerships and excellent leadership, and have a proven track-record of school improvement.The headteacher must have at least three years of experience,and the leadership team must have the capacity to lead the six core areas of the teaching school role,which we explain below.
What do teaching schools do?
The government’s policy on improving the quality of teaching and leadership says that teaching schools may lead ‘teaching school alliances’. Each alliance consists of the leading teaching school,the schools it supports, and their partners.
According to the National College’s guide for potential applicants,linked to above,teaching schools have six core areas of responsibility:
- Developing opportunities to provide school-led initialteacher training
- Offering a range of professional development opportunities for staff and extending the school’s learning culture to other schools they work with
- Leading the co-ordination of school-to-school support(usually through working with a school in challenging circumstances to bring about improvement)
- Developing successful succession planning strategies to identify and develop people to fill leadership positions in the future
- Recruiting and managing the placements of specialist leaders of education (outstanding middle and senior leaders who support colleagues in other schools)
- Undertaking research and development
How are teaching schools funded?
The guide for potential applicants,linked to above,says that teaching school alliances receive an annual grant,known as the core funding, of £60,000 in the first year,£50,000 in the second year and £40,000 in each of the third and fourth years.
Annual core grant funding will, in general,decrease each year, which reflects the expectation that alliances, as they mature, become sustainable.
Considerations in becoming a teaching school
We spoke to the directors of three teaching school alliances,and asked what they believe are the benefits and challenges of becoming a teaching school. We outline their responses below.
Supporting sector-wide school improvement
David Whitfield is the director of the Southfields Teaching School Alliance in Wandsworth, and the representative for London on the Teaching Schools Council.
He said that teaching school status gives settings with a track record of success an opportunity to help other schools develop.
However he believes teaching schools should not be solely responsible for driving school improvement in their alliances; teaching school status is about finding ways to help all of the schools and partners in an alliance work with one another.
Being part of a knowledge-sharing network
David said the Teaching Schools Council supports a series of national, regional and sub-regional networks for teaching schools.
For example, as the Council’s representative for London, David arranges regional and sub- regional information and knowledge sharing sessions. These meetings provide practitioners with an opportunity to come together, share and reflect upon their experiences, and discuss common challenges.
Further information about the networks coordinated by the Council is available on its website: National and regional work-strands,TeachingSchoolsCouncil
David believes that teaching school status should lead to a shift in a school’s thinking. He said: All schools want the best for their pupils. However, teaching school status says to the world ‘we want to make a difference for all pupils, not just our own’.
Teaching schools will therefore need to develop ‘outward-facing infrastructure’ by extending their existing provision, and finding new ways to work with other schools and strategic partners.
David said that how a teaching school does this will depend on its individual circumstances.
In another article from The Key, we look at whether teaching schools should restructure their senior leadership teams. You may find information in this article useful if you are considering how to put in place a staffing structure to support your alliance.