In 2014, following a number of disappointing inspection outcomes – and informed by a then recently published Educational Commission report, championing school-to-school support – a collective of 12 schools and academies in South Gloucestershire engaged with The London Leadership Strategy (LLS) in order to support their goal to improve inspection outcomes.
Schools were divided into four hubs and LLS deployed London-based National Leaders of Education (NLEs) and Local Leaders of Education (LLEs), one to each hub. Work began at a conference held in March 2014 which was attended by the four hub leaders, representatives from each of the stakeholder schools and a local authority representative. Here, the aims of the work of the South Gloucestershire Heads and of LLS with South Gloucestershire were identified as:
• Make a difference and move things on
• Build trust and confidence
• Change current leadership thinking
• Change leadership behaviours
• Build partnerships that would make a difference.
The conference was led and facilitated by LLS and the LLS team also worked to establish a firm commitment to work within and across the hubs to secure real and measurable actions. Following the conference, the NLEs and LLEs continued to work with their partner hubs to identify issues, sharing best practice and facilitating the sharing of this best practice across the schools and academies in each hub. There was a high level of support and challenge especially in aspects such as sixth form provision and alternative provision.
The deployment of LLS’s NLEs and LLEs has had a positive impact upon the schools forming the South Gloucestershire hubs:
• There has been a development and embedding process around openness and sharing, challenge and support and exploiting opportunities for collaboration within and beyond the hubs.
• Individual schools now focus on capturing and using learning from others within and beyond their hub.
• Schools realise the importance of having a comprehensive understanding of the realities of the landscape in which each of the schools and academies is operating locally and more widely.
• They know that they can do better and are driven to do so.
• There has been a strong commitment to securing action and stepping up levels of accountability.
The deployment of an LLS programme lead has ensured that the NLEs and LLEs have remained sharply focused on supporting the hubs to achieve the aims that were set out on the conference in 2014. This has been significantly strengthened by establishing strong links with the LA leads and through regular face-to-face meetings to review progress and offer further challenge and support in ensuring that the work carried out meets the needs and expectations of the South Gloucestershire Heads and the LA.
The work with South Gloucestershire highlights LLS’s strong belief that the answers to the issues in the education system lie within the system itself – this work with South Gloucestershire has facilitated increased school-to-school collaboration and knowledge sharing to the benefit of all schools.