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Teaching schools

for the children and young people we serve. What our organisations need more than anything else at this time is great leadership. The role and influence of great leadership will become even stronger as

Centres of excellence E

In the June issue of Headteacher Update we focused on the pros and cons of teaching schools. Now the first batch are up and running, we hear fromAndy Buck of the National College and Liz Francis of the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) who tell us why primary schools are at the heart of the scheme

xcellent school leadership has always been a valuable commodity. It is even more valuable today. We are living in fast changing times and it has never been more critical to focus on what is best

schools take on more independence. We have seen the acceleration of this process since last May: for example more than 1,300 schools now have academy status. Great leadership for every school cannot be realised if it is controlled from the centre. We need to build on a movement that has been growing

“Teaching schools are grounded in two things that we know great leaders prioritise when achieving school

improvement: learning through ‘the work’ and collaborative leadership.”

steadily for the past few years, in which the profession leads and develops itself. This system ensures that excellent heads, middle leaders and teachers have the power to lead and support the development of great practice across the system because the quality of teaching is the most significant factor in raising standards. Teaching schools, the first of which started operation at the beginning

of September, are central to this vision. Teaching schools are grounded in two things that we know great

leaders prioritise when achieving school improvement: learning through “the work” and collaborative leadership. It is an approach that works around the world. In an international study on school leadership carried out by the National College we looked at eight

education systems around the world and found that heads and principals in all the countries surveyed worked for an average of 60 hours a week. What distinguished the highest performing heads from the rest was

what they did with that time. They dedicated a significantly greater proportion of their working weeks to the tough but core business of developing their staff in order to improve teaching. And this finding is backed up by Viviane Robinson’s research which identified the leadership practices that had the most significant effect on pupil attainment were when leaders promoted and participated in teacher learning and development. More and more leaders are doing this. We recently looked into how

schools access leadership development and found that two out of every five schools in England do much of this themselves. That is encouraging because all the evidence shows us that the most

profound way to develop teaching and leadership skills is “on the job”. But learning on the job on its own can be risky – particularly if you are

not surrounded by excellent leaders who act as role models and support you through coaching and mentoring. So learning on the job needs to be complemented in five main ways:

n Effective whole-school leadership of CPD. n The opportunity to access and to observe excellent practice, not just in one school but in others as well.

n Time for reflection – because leadership and teaching is intense work. n Access to high quality research and to external expertise when appropriate, such as subject updating.

n Opportunities to discuss with peers and to work with them on common issues.

So what will teaching schools offer? Teaching schools, with their strategic partners, will need to plan and manage a coherent school-led approach to teacher and leadership training and development, linking this to the priorities of their alliance and their own school improvement planning.

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