Our response to NAHT's new report - Improving Schools
In November 2020, school leaders’ union NAHT published its ‘Improving Schools’ report, from the School Improvement Commission. The report details their vision for the future of education in England and details a number of recommendations to rebalance holding schools to account with helping them to improve to unleash the potential within schools.
‘‘When teachers develop and build their expertise collectively, the wellbeing of teachers and pupils improves.”
School leaders from the more than 1,700 schools we work with have been telling us again and again that collaboration and non-judgemental peer support has been a lifeline this year. Our team has had the privilege of running virtual workshops for hundreds of head teachers and senior leaders from around the country over the last three weeks and the wellbeing of staff has come up as a concern within the first five minutes of every single session. The workshops have felt part support and solidarity, part strategic reset.
All of the school leaders we have met are committed to continuing their collaborative journey towards improvement with a collective will and purpose, despite the extreme demands being placed on them. They also tell us that the purpose of their collaboration at the moment is to help them to better manage these demands and keep their school community safe, whilst not losing sight of their commitment to continuous improvement.
"I feel calmer after that, not so overwhelmed any more."
We’re hearing every day that the security of having established peer networks to call upon, without fear of judgement, has provided the kind of holistic support they could never have found elsewhere. They trust the advice they get from each other in a spirit of honest vulnerability.
We’ve welcomed group after group of exhausted but determined school leaders and seen how restorative it has been for them to lift their heads above the operational and try to look ahead together in a positive way. For many, it is rekindling the passion that led them to the work of headship in the first place.
We’ve heard countless stories of burst bubbles and anxious staff, with one headteacher covering reception whilst she engaged with us in the workshop with aplomb - thirty-seven of her staff were at home isolating. The fortitude, compassion and resilience of these school leaders, all of whom have been in a state of high alert for nine months now with no end in sight, is genuinely inspiring.
We welcome the recent publication from the School Improvement Commission, which evidences many of SPP’s core principles, in particular that “school improvement should be a collaborative, collective endeavour within and between schools, because collaboration enriches teachers’ learning and spreads expertise so that all children can benefit.”
We value our relationship with the NAHT and look forward to working together over the next new months, using this Commission to strengthen our work on developing a partnership-based education system.
We are committed to continuing to co-develop an approach that will empower schools and teachers to drive their own improvement journey. Through this, we've moved quickly to adapt and augment the programmes’ peer review cycle for schools and partnerships in these exceptional circumstances. This year, we are also delighted to be continuing our support of hundreds of schools through the Education Endowment Foundation's (EEF) evaluation of SPP.
What we’re hearing more and more from the school leaders we work with in these strange, uncertain times is that collaboration has been fundamental to teachers’ wellbeing and resilience at a time when every day – indeed every weekend and evening too – brings a new set of challenges.