Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Teaching School?
Teaching schools are ‘lead’ schools within an alliance of schools and partners whose role is to work with others to provide high-quality training and support for school improvement in their local area. Their work is focused on 6 key areas through which their success is monitored and evaluated. These are:
- delivering school-led initial teacher training (ITT), including Schools Direct
- providing tailored continuing professional development to staff across their alliances
- supporting other schools, usually working with a school or academy in challenging circumstances to bring about improvement
- identifying and developing future leaders
- recruiting and managing specialist leaders of education: outstanding middle and senior leaders who develop leaders in other schools
- building on existing research and sharing new research and development
More information about teaching schools can be found at the following links:
Department for Education – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/teaching-schools-and-system-leadership-how-you-can-get-involved
Teaching Schools Council – http://tscouncil.org.uk
Most teaching schools operate with subscriptions and a memorandum of understanding to which schools sign up. There is a steering group structure with representation from schools and partners within the alliance. This allows the teaching school to plan a range of professional development activity to support teachers and leaders at all stages of their career.
How are teaching schools different from Multi Academy Trusts (MATs)?
Teaching school alliances are not set up to be multi-academy trusts, although some may have a lead role in a MAT. Belonging to a teaching school alliance does not require a change in governance or the same ‘due diligence’ approach that schools take when converting to an academy or becoming part of a MAT. Lead teaching schools have a responsibility to deliver support to schools within the alliance but are not accountable for performance in the same way as a multi-academy trust. Where a school is underperforming, Teaching Schools are not expected to become a sponsor but may be approached if they are a MAT.
If I’m joining a MAT, do I still need to be part of a teaching school alliance?
In short, no, but both offer different support and are not mutually exclusive. It can greatly benefit a school to be part of both. A teaching school alliance may offer a range of training and expertise that is either not available through the multi-academy trust, or complements the work of the trust. The wide ranging brief of teaching schools, their performance measures, and both the regional and national networks, mean that they are well placed to support schools and offer opportunities for professional development for aspiring leaders and teachers. As more MATs are emerging, many are remaining as members of a teaching school alliances.
Why should my school join a teaching school alliance?
No school has to join a teaching school alliance. However, teaching school alliances offer a unique platform for support and development within the school system. With the focus on school improvement, professional development and strategic partners across the education system, they offer a secure network for any school seeking to work collaboratively, whatever its designation.
What are the expectations of me if I join a teaching school alliance?
The success of a teaching school alliance is dependent on the reciprocal relationship of the schools within. On the basis that all schools have something to contribute to the learning community, your school will identify expertise and knowledge that can be shared as well as needs which will be supported by others within the alliance. As teaching school alliances evolve the dynamics of the partnership will develop and deepen.
Do I need to join the teaching school alliance that is nearest to me?
It is important to look at the range of opportunities that each teaching school alliance offers and choose the one that best fits your school’s needs and ethos.
Many schools do opt for a local teaching school or are a member of more than one teaching school, but it is important to find the best match for you.
If I’m an outstanding school, why should I join a teaching school alliance?
It is vital that schools, whatever their status and success, are able to work together to improve outcomes for children and young people. Schools that have been judged to be outstanding are in a strong position to contribute to the programme of professional development that each teaching school alliance plans. It is widely acknowledged that when teachers work together in a coaching relationship for example, the coach benefits as much as the coached. As an outstanding school being inspected, a key area of leadership and management is the way in which leaders build strong partnerships and collaborate with others.
The Avon Teaching School Alliance is an inclusive organisation which welcomes other schools and other institutions to our partnership.
Membership is available to all those wishing to contribute to and/or benefit from the work and ethos of the Alliance.