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Putting peer review to the test

03 April 2018

Training is underway for some 450 schools who have signed up for our Schools Partnership Programme. This latest cohort is part of an Education Endowment Foundation-funded evaluation of the Schools Partnership Programme – one of the largest studies the EEF has undertaken. During the carefully structured sessions, schools are able to develop their understanding of peer review and how to make it work for their partnerships.

'Our initial training sessions are about understanding what the aims of engaging with the programme are, and what skills and knowledge are required for truly transformational peer review and school-to-school support,' explains John Cronin, Programme Manager for the Schools Partnership Programme. 'For the EEF evaluation, we are training large groups of schools from across a local system together in one room. Some have collaborated for many years, and others are new to working together. This is an opportunity for schools to share and reflect on their past experiences of partnership working, and plan how they are going to challenge and support one another more systematically with a sharper focus on outcomes.'

Asking the right questions

One of the key aims of the Schools Partnership Programme is to develop a robust and cyclical peer review process that enables clusters of schools to lead their own improvement. As well as providing a framework to facilitate a continuous cycle of reviews and improvement workshops, the training also supports the development of skills that underpin effective peer review and follow-up support. These include collaborative enquiry and the collective scrutiny of evidence and research to inform school improvement decision making. The process as a whole builds leadership capacity and has real impact.

'Collaborative peer review is already a popular approach for schools, so many will have experience of some version of it,' John continues. 'However, too often peer review doesn’t lead to follow-up action and impact. Our SPP model ensures that peer review provides a basis and momentum for continuous improvement.'

Shaping the national agenda

The Schools Partnership Programme is the only school-to-school peer review programme being evaluated: 'It is really exciting to have so many schools involved in this pioneering study,' concludes John. 'This is a way to truly test peer review and to build greater knowledge and understanding of it. Everyone involved has an opportunity to shape the national agenda around the role of peer review in helping support the self-improving system.'

All schools taking part will complete their initial training in March and April, after which they will begin their first peer review cycles.

Find out more about SPP: (opens in a new window)
Read the emerging impact evidence: The power and potential of peer review
Find out more about the Education Endowment Foundation evaluation: (opens in a new window)