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A meeting of minds

28 March 2017

​​What works in education? How do we ensure that all children receive a quality education to enable them to fulfil their potential? There isn't a silver bullet of an answer, however, at Education Development Trust, we firmly believe in constantly asking these questions – and we believe in the power of sharing knowledge and experience.

Which is why we brought together a group of 15 educationalists for a roundtable discussion in London on Tuesday with New Zealand's minister of education, Hekia Parata. The invited group of leading thinkers included headteachers as well as influencers from local government, and the Mayor of London’s office, local school improvement bodies in England and Wales, the Teaching Schools Council, Ofsted and headteachers’ professional associations.

Peer review and collaborative school improvement

The theme up for discussion was peer review and collaborative school improvement. Both England and New Zealand have made collaboration between groups of schools a central part of national school improvement policy and we brought everyone together to share our respective learning and to have the opportunity to freely question, challenge and share ideas.

Chaired by CEO Steve Munby, Hekia Parata kicked off the discussion with an overview of New Zealand's Communities of Learning. These voluntary networks specifically link up educational pathways that learners will take from 0-18 – 'it is about adults along the pathway holding professional hands'. While the context might differ, some of the fundamental challenges were relevant to all: how to ensure engagement; how to adapt to horizontal or lateral leadership; how to shift the mindset from schools in competition with each other to being asked to collaborate.

Schools to mastermind their own improvement paths

'It was a fantastic opportunity to come together and share ideas,' explained Matt Davis, UK regional director at Education Development Trust. 'As an organisation, we are major proponents of collaborative school improvement; our own Schools Partnership Programme provides a framework for schools to mastermind their own improvement and development through collaboration and peer review.

'There was a real energy in the room and a sense of positivity and purpose that comes with a meeting of minds. Bringing together likeminded educationalists from across the spectrum and across geographies is a very enriching experience and it was clear that discussions could have continued indefinitely.'

To find out more about collaborative school improvement, visit the Schools Partnership Programme website: (opens in a new window).

New Zealand's minister of education, Hekia Parata, joined our roundtable in London in March to talk about peer review and collaborative school improvement.