The statement in paragraph 3.3 of “Your child, your schools, our future, building a 21st century schools system” that children educated at schools which operate in a form of partnership offer enhanced opportunities to children and achieve better results is based on published evidence.
Atkinson et al. (2007) conducted a literature review of inter-school collaboration1, which synthesises and extracts common characteristics of how partnerships can be effective, and gives an overview of the ways partnerships can work. They listed 17 recent initiatives that involve collaborations (for example Diversity Pathfinder Initiative; Beacon Schools scheme; and extended services schools).
1 The review focused on 39 studies from 1997 onwards.
Atkinson et al. (2007) report gains for school, school staff and pupils taking part in inter-school collaboration
Gains for the school:
economic advantages (for example sharing of resources, accessing new funding streams and economies of scale);
school improvement and raised standards, including improvements in pupil attainment (for example from an enhanced curriculum and development of teacher expertise);
the forging of closer relationships between participating schools and from this outcome, a greater awareness and understanding of other schools; and
it was said that bringing schools together can break down barriers so that they can work together in a mutually beneficial way.
Gains for school staff:
opportunities to exchange ideas and good practice;
new opportunities for training and professional development; and
an enriched support network (a larger number of colleagues available to discuss concerns and issues) which reduced a sense of professional isolation, which could lead to an increase in staff confidence, motivation and morale.
Gains for pupils:
enjoyed an enhanced educational experience (for example better choice of subjects, access to specialist teaching i.e. more personalised learning, and opportunities for out-of-school excursions);
improved attainment was also reported;
increased social opportunities from interacting with pupils from other schools;
where these pupils came from different backgrounds (for example faiths and cultures) there was also the possibility of increasing awareness and understanding of different lifestyles; and
where partnerships existed between primary and secondary schools, increased contact was said to make the transition much easier for pupils moving on to secondary school.
A report published by the National College of School Leadership (2008) entitled “Schools leading schools: the power and potential of National Leaders of Education” highlights the following successes in relation to the National Leaders of Education (NLE) programme:
By July 2008, NLEs had supported 19 schools to be removed from special measures or have NTI withdrawn.
GCSE results in 2008 show marked improvement in schools in which NLEs have worked for one year or more.
Independent evaluation reports commissioned by NCSL over the two years the NLE programme has developed have found the NLE programme to be effective in selecting, appointing and deploying NLEs, in delivering improvements and in removing schools from Ofsted categories.
NCSL Schools Leading Schools report states that “there is a clear association between NLE intervention and improved results”.
Atkinson, M., Springate, I., Johnson, F. and Halsey, K. (2007). “Inter-school collaboration: A literature review”. NFER.
National College of School Leadership (2008) “Schools leading schools: the power and potential of National Leaders of Education”.