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England’s schools say ‘yes’ to working together

19 January 2018

More than a thousand schools expressed interest in taking part in an Education Endowment Foundation-funded evaluation of the Schools Partnership Programme, Education Development Trust's cluster-based approach to school improvement.

'We have had an overwhelming response to our call for schools to take part in the evaluation of SPP,' explains John Cronin who heads up the programme. 'We knew there was an appetite for our framework as it has grown exponentially since we launched it in 2014 however this boost from the EEF funding has amplified our reach. There is a clear message here that headteachers want to take control of their own improvement journeys and that they realise the potential that lies in collaborating with other schools.'

Continuous cycle of review and improvement

The Schools Partnership Programme is a peer review model that builds capacity and capability across clusters, or partnerships of schools, so they can gradually take more responsibility for their own development and maturity, and lead their own improvement. Through the programme, schools develop their capacity and the culture needed for impactful cluster working through a continuous cycle of school self-review, peer review and school-to-school support and improvement.

'SPP ensures that schools have the necessary skills for effective peer review and the framework provides the, often missing, links of rigour and impetus,' continues John. 'We speak to heads across the country and they see outcomes-focused peer review and school-to-school support as the right approach for collaborative school improvement. Of those that we talk to, some are new to peer review and keen to start working closely with other schools in their area while others have attempted to implement peer review within their pre-existing clusters but found that, without a robust framework, it was difficult to deliver improved outcomes. Our programme provides a cost-effective, sustainable long-term option for schools to help themselves.'

EEF: one of our largest studies

'Peer-to-peer support is a popular model, and we are keen to understand more about its impact,' says Eleanor Stringer from the EEF. 'By funding Education Development Trust and an independent evaluator – UCL Institute of Education – we hope to provide useful information to schools about the approach. With the number of schools that Education Development Trust has recruited, this will be one of the largest studies the EEF has undertaken.'

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)