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Teaching schools Senior and middle leaders have for a long time made a major

contribution to school improvement within and between schools. The vital role played by these individuals is recognised in the teaching schools programme with the new role of Specialist Leader of Education (SLE). SLEs are part of the teaching schools vision and teaching schools will hold

the core responsibility for the designation of SLEs, along with managing the negotiation and arrangements for their deployment in schools. An SLE will be both an outstanding leader and an outstanding

specialist in their field of expertise. They may be specialists in a range of leadership roles such as key stage phase leader, numeracy leader, curriculum strategy leader, deputy head or, in the case of a federation of schools, a head of school. They will all be highly accomplished in what they do and will have a strong track record in coaching or facilitation and real evidence of successfully developing others. They will also have the capacity and commitment to support other leaders in schools that are struggling, just as staff in our national support schools already do.

“Teaching schools will increasingly move into the role of talent spotting and developing the leaders of the future.”

Unlike other outstanding designations like Advanced Skills Teachers,

who concentrate on sharing their skills with teachers in their own and other schools, SLEs will focus on the improvement of middle and senior leaders in other schools. All schools in the alliance will have strengths and something to offer,

so an SLE might come from outstanding practice in one of the partner schools. We believe this role has great potential and will play a part in untapping excellent leadership practice wherever it exists.

Quality assurance Teaching schools will also be responsible for assuring the quality of the work that their strategic partners and SLEs do on behalf of the alliance and the impact it makes. The National College and the TDA will make available guidance on self-evaluation and quality assurance but it will be up to schools to decide how they undertake this role.

There will also be a role in supporting practitioner research and

development work and contributing to a teaching schools national network which will focus on a small number of research and development themes agreed by teaching schools. Teaching schools will coordinate CPD and lead peer-to-peer learning

across the group of schools. In particular, teaching schools will draw on the expertise of experienced and accomplished professionals across the group to support the learning and development of others. Teaching schools will, in many cases, already be delivering significant

leadership development opportunities for teachers and support staff in their own and other schools. This may be through one of the National College’s existing middle leadership development clusters, or by offering placements, mentoring and coaching to trainee heads as part of the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). Although the National College will continue to play a key role in

supporting succession planning, teaching schools will increasingly move into the role of talent spotting and developing the leaders of the future. Part of their coordination role will be to work with all schools in the teaching school alliance to identify potential leaders from the start of their careers and help them on their career journey, for which they will receive additional funding. Teaching schools may also want to work in partnership with local authorities or with the National College to determine the likely demand for new headteachers for the different types of schools in their area. Teaching schools are a culmination of a significant movement in

school leadership which has gathered momentum over the past decade, delivering real benefits for schools. To succeed teaching schools need to be flexible, as well as informed by

the views and experience of schools that are already out there working in close partnerships. We have been working closely with school leaders for the past few months,

using their comments and suggestions at a round of consultation events to develop the teaching schools vision. But it should not stop there and it is crucial that we continue to work closely together as we move forward so that the reality of teaching schools fulfils the profession’s hopes.

• Andy Buck is director of teaching schools at the National College. Liz Francis is director of workforce strategy, standards and qualifications at the TDA. To download the latest teaching schools prospectus go to schools-prospectus.pdf

The first 100 teaching schools L

eaders of the first 100 teaching school alliances met at the National College’s Nottingham learning and conference centre in September

for an induction event which represented the official start of the teaching schools programme. Out of the first 100 teaching school alliances, 37

are headed by primary schools. There will be 500 teaching school alliances

throughout England by 2014. Cotgrave Candleby Lane Primary in Nottingham-

shire is among the first cohort. “We are absolutely delighted to have been

designated a teaching school,” says headteacher Chris Wheatley. “At this stage of our school’s development,

collaborations have been valuable and we feel that the teaching school status can only enhance this and enable the development of further effective collaborations in the future. “The opportunities that the teaching school will

bring are vast. Continued professional development opportunities both inside of school, across the alliance and beyond as well as provision for aspirant leadership, provision to support national programmes and development of initial teacher training opportunities are an extremely exciting prospect.”


Heads up: Education chief Michael Gove (centre) with the 100 teaching school leaders during a recent event at the National College for School Leadership

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