December 2020 edition: The Future of the Teaching Schools Council and the Potential Impact of Teaching School Hubs

The Future of the Teaching Schools Council and the Potential Impact of Teaching School Hubs

In his 2020 Association of School and College Leaders speech, the Secretary of State for Education set out a significant package of reforms to the teacher professional development system.

The reforms focus on the national pathways teachers and school leaders can take through their careers; the curriculum that will underpin each of these pathways; and the national infrastructure needed to deliver it. These reforms coincide with the programme of system leader review which includes the existing plans to replace the large number of Teaching Schools with a much smaller number of higher capacity Teaching School Hubs (TSHs). 

TSHs will be a major partner, locally, developing strong practice alongside others. The new hubs will aim to facilitate local delivery across 200-300 schools. They will be a key local partner providing for and supporting ITT, early career teachers, NPQs and a unique bespoke professional development function providing evidence informed programmes that can be targeted to meet local needs.

There are complexities to making this happen. This will require school leaders to work across and beyond existing structures. Robust governance will need to be in place that ensures high quality provision, holding all those involved to account for the contribution made by each partner working with a designated lead school for the TSH.

To ensure the success of these reforms, the role of the Teaching Schools Council (TSC) must evolve, refocusing its work on more focussed support and development for hubs whilst continuing to advise, support and challenge on future policy development. This is essential because, whilst designated TSHs will be some of our country’s highest performing schools, some will not have delivered teacher development at such scale, so will require expertise and support.

To reflect this, the TSC has drafted a new mission statement:

‘The Teaching Schools Council is the sector body for Teaching School Hubs. It is committed to providing a great education for every pupil, regardless of their background, and supports the national network of Teaching School Hubs in England’.

This year is a significant transition year for the TSC as it moves from its previous operating model to this new one. As well as completing a final year of school improvement commissions within the existing Teaching Schools, the Council will also reform itself, support the TSH reforms and begin its new role of focussed TSH support. In the first year of TSH operation this will include a programme of professional development for TSH Directors and their teams which covers the policy context in which they are now working; detailed training on how to successfully establish, recruit to and deliver ITT, ECF and NPQ programmes in their area; and detailed training on how to establish the operational systems and business support to build an organisation that stands the test of time. In addition, the Council seeks to establish a national and regional network to support the work and ongoing development of the hubs whilst establishing clear, mutually beneficial partnerships with sector bodies, unions and wider organisations. To support this, the Council are recruiting two new senior colleagues, with relevant skills and experience, to support regional TSC teams and newly designated TSHs. This will ensure that the Council has the capacity in ensuring that hubs are ready to start their delivery plans from September 2021.

To ensure the success of these reforms, the role of the Teaching Schools Council must evolve, refocusing its work on more focussed support and development for Hubs whilst continuing to advise, support and challenge on future policy development.

Richard Gill

Beyond 21/22 it is inevitable that the programme of work will continue to evolve. This will need to be responsive as to what is needed most. However, it is my view that this is likely to include a hub-wide programme of continuous improvement work with TSH Directors and their teams based on emerging needs and priorities; an induction programme (a slimmed down version of the 20/21 programme) for TSH Directors who are new to post; targeted and intensive support work with specific hubs who have faced early operational/implementation challenges; the continued curation and refinement of the national network and resource sharing hub and, of course, continued collaboration with DfE to review and evolve TSH policy and other policy areas.

2011 was clearly significant with the initiation of a programme of establishing teaching schools who have supported and developed the school led system during a time of continuous evolution. The commitment to teacher and leadership development, proposals highlighted in the recent NAHT commission on school improvement, means that, in the future, TSHs are well placed to ensure the ‘golden thread’ is not just a vision but a reality.