The landscape of education has changed significantly over the past few years and continues to do so. The capacity of LAs to support schools and in particular school improvement has been significantly reduced.
Additionally, the new financial constraints under which we will all be working will impact negatively upon individual schools’ capacity to deliver in isolation.
Alternative models of school leadership and governance can provide solutions for our future working: schools collaborating through formal ‘improvement partnerships’ to establish economies of scale and develop capacity to support all students to fulfil their potential.
By how much or how little we change is solely dependent on the willingness of individual schools to embrace change. Many secondary schools have moved quickly to seize the opportunities academy status provides. Primaries traditionally have had a significantly different, closer more benevolent relationship with their LA, and are consequently more reluctant to seek structural change. This reluctance will not change the fact that their relationship with LAs has changed and will continue to change. It is imperative that the ownership of the shape and direction of new relationships be with schools.
The traditional model of school leadership and governance must also come under scrutiny. Schools cannot function as they have previously done if the environment in which they sit is not as it used to be. Additionally the present model does not equalise opportunity; whilst successful for some schools it has seen many routinely fail their pupils year after year. Alternative models of system leadership, involving school to school support, have been shown to be very effective in raising standards both in this country and abroad. The need to develop a new generation of school leaders from within our present teachers is something which cannot be left to chance and needs to be an integral part of any emerging model. Capacity building and succession planning at individual school, partnership and Trust level is pivotal to the drive for sustainable continuous improvement.
The model adopted by CLPT is purposely hierarchical, structured and formal in order to guarantee collaborative working, shared aims and objectives. At the same time, central to our strategy is recognition of the uniqueness of partner schools and therefore their individual identities are fiercely protected. Diversity is viewed as a major strength of the partnership and there is no desire to adopt a cloning approach to school improvement.
Doug Selkirk OBE
CLPT Chief Executive Officer