Schoolzone blog: School leaders and collaboration

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7 Nov 2014

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  • Only 50% of schools ever likely to benefit from working with teaching schools
  • Number of aspiring heads drops by a quarter in two years.

The NCTL's annual survey of middle and senior leaders in schools doesn't paint a rosy picture of the two main areas it examines: collaboration of schools and support and development of school leaders.


Only 30% of schools are involved in a teaching school alliance.

42% of school leaders don't even know where their nearest TS is.

This is bad news for the DfE's flagship strategy for replacing the support offered by LAs, whose capacity to offer support has, in many places been weakened by the academisation programme.

Only 30% of heads not currently working with a TSA said that they are likely to do so. So the potential for TSA coverage is only at a maximum of around 50% of schools. Awareness levels of what TSAs do, among noninvolved school leaders, is low: on a scale of 1 - 10 the average awareness of non-teaching schools was 5.

So whatever the NCTL and DfE are doing to promote and support teaching schools is not working very quickly. This is a shame, because they can offer a huge amount to other schools. The one I'm involved with (Balcarras) is working with around 20 other schools and colleges and offers a huge range of CPD - and is really doing some great work. We need some mechanism and support for showing off what TSAs around the country are doing, because these low levels of awareness are really very poor.

School leadership

School leaders think it's a great job, especially those who collaborate with other schools. It's not clear where the cause and effect is here, if there is one, because the report doesn't mention whether these leaders tend to be on the giving or the receiving end of the 'collaboration'.

However, middle leaders are becoming less and less interested in becoming heads - only 43% now say that they have that ambition - down from 57% two years ago - that's a reduction of a quarter in the number of potential heads in the next few years. They're just too happy in their current roles and they are starting to see the responsibility and workload of headship as too much.

There doesn't seem to be much to do to incentivise more senior leaders to aspire to headship - they're already paid a lot (and there's a huge pension burden on the state) and neither the workload nor responsibility is likely to diminish, unless schools employ more deputy heads (also financially alarming), but it's those in these positions who are happy where they are, so they won't want to move up either.

Leadership is what makes or breaks schools. If so few schools are seeking or offering help to others and too few good senior leaders are prepared to take the helm, what else is to be done to maintain or improve schools?




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