- What is your opinion/experience of the MAT model for improving the quality of teaching and learning and outcomes for pupils?
- How would you ensure an effective model of school-to-school support across a number of schools?
The evidence for direct impact of inter-school collaboration on student outcomes is limited.https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/467855/DFE-RR466_-_School_improvement_effective_school_partnerships.pdf
There is great complexity and variety in the models of contemporary schools’ organisation. This has meant that a comprehensive, coherent picture is difficult to identify. Yet, despite the challenge to clarity, the most effective models of school-to-school (S2S) support ease collaboration, promote professional engagement & are founded on mutual respect & shared purpose.
It is entirely plausible that a MAT model can be effective for S2S support. Experienced leaders, a shared vision for pupil outcomes, a large (potentially) community of professional educators. Leveraging this system would most certainly foment exceptional opportunites to innovate, offer peer support (& challenge) at all levels, enable moderation & provide the platform to solve problems that occur at a local level.
The MAT in which I am one of three Principals currently employs a Peer Review process. It enables scrutiny & reflection on school-derived lines of enquiry, assessment of progress against development plan projects and coaching & advice on challenges we face. It is a professional dialogue that is built on mutual understanding & a desire for each of us to be successful in our own, differing, contexts.
In addition, we hold termly moderation meetings for key stages, meetings for SENCos and subject leads and open up offers of attending CPD opportunities hosted by schools. Furthermore, admin teams & business managers are in regular contact for support & advice in anything from using the MIS to admissions & attendance.
This is a model that I feel would be of great benefit when deployed across a number of schools. It doesn’t assume a superiority of one school over the others or ignore contextual differences. The CEO doesn’t, as yet, dictate pedagogy or become involved in recruitment or teacher performance management. Instead, they are largely focused on Trust strategy, facilitation of support for Principals & how to centralise services in an optimal fashion while leaving schools with an autonomy that builds strength through independence.
This model is enhanced in my school, I feel, through close working relationships with local schools. Through the groups of local Heads, attendance at moderations & use of the local Teaching School for instance, we have an improved ability to understand our own context, gain support from schools running successful initiatives in our area & enabled the whole school community (especially the staff) to feel part of the local education landscape – where by and large they all live anyway.
Therefore, for a successful model of S2S support across a number of schools it is essential to focus on three elements:
- Building support networks and professional trust through the MAT itself
- Engaging staff teams in the local support networks that already exis
- Training & developing leaders in a MAT to build collaborative & supportive partnerships
The last of these is essential & will therefore inform the Trustees of the MAT in the recruitment of any executive leader. Whether a CEO or Executive Head, the success of S2S support is predicated on the vision & competencies of a leader to understand how the school system can be improved by motivated & sustainable collaboration; that staff in schools want to feel a sense of belonging & purpose in their own communities.