A study of place-based school partnerships
At The Staff College, we have been committed to championing excellence through equity in education since our inception in 1999. We believe that addressing the needs of those who find learning and socialisation most difficult benefits the entire school community. This belief, combined with our fundamental belief that children and young people learn best when they feel valued, respected and included, has guided our school improvement work.
However, recent policy changes in England towards market forces and school autonomy have the potential to further disadvantage learners from economically poorer backgrounds and other vulnerable, isolated and marginalised groups. To address this challenge, we commissioned a study by researchers at the University of Manchester.
The resulting report, “Turning The Tide: A study of place-based school partnerships,” proposes an approach based on area or locality school-led partnerships supported by active and engaged local authorities acting as system curators. We believe that local leadership with a sense of collective responsibility is a necessary component of a socially just and effective school system. Achieving excellence requires equity.
The Manchester study analysed well-established area-based partnerships across the UK, which involved headteachers and senior staff from Multi Academy Trusts taking on systems leadership roles. The partnerships guided by a strong commitment to equity and belonging were found to be the most effective. We believe that such partnerships can foster collective accountability, reduce the polarisation of schools within a local area, and benefit pupils who are often marginalised at the edges of the system.
We believe that when schools come together to agree on collective local accountability for improving the learning outcomes of all children and young people, schools emerge as system shapers with the potential to create a coherent local wellbeing system. We have a long tradition of supporting local authorities and schools in creating new models of school improvement through collective accountability for all children across local areas and families of schools, which replaces fragmented centralism with connected localism.
Through this report, we hope to start a national debate about future education policy and the importance of equity in education. We believe that it is time to turn the tide and create a schooling system that is inclusive and enables all children and young people to thrive.