Building capacity for leadership at all levels of the system

White Horse Federation

1. Overview

This project sought to combine three things from three different sectors to bring about a synergy and leadership opportunity not seen before. It sought to combine the following to create a unique offer, which saw every member of a school’s staff or indeed a MAT as a leader in their own right.

- Nationally recognised and respected leadership programmes from the NCTL

- Leading edge leadership development materials produced by a number of FTSE 100 companies and other significant commercial organisations.

- The educational, academic and evidential research based materials developed by the MARJON University.

The project aimed to develop the leadership potential of many staff groups in school, from an NQT who should be a leader in their own classroom, to an RQT who might start to have a level of responsibility across a year group, to a middle leader leading a department or faculty.

Alongside quality professional development and coaching there was emphasis on participants accessing a platform to host a range of quality leadership resources, and becoming part of an active professional learning community. The school-based projects, which were the focus for each participant, was centred on key areas of underperformance, with the overall objective being improved attainment, attendance for all pupils, and a reduction in the gap between the attainment and attendance of the most disadvantaged pupils.

2. Good practice to share with others interested in running school improvement projects to ensure projects deliver the intended outcome.

The project lead makes the following recommendations based on elements of successful practice that featured in this project:

  1. In all projects of this scale building in flexibility, while observing / achieving agreed outcomes is essential.
  2. Utilising the EEF Guidance on the implementation of evidence -informed CPD is a recommended approach, identifying where evidence of need linked to evidence of impact, in the planning stage of the programme.
  3. Evidence of what works in school improvement (Greatbatch and Tate, 2019 DfE) cite the importance of collaboration, and the development of trust in professional relationships. However, this report also cites the challenge of identifying causal links between this and measurable outcomes in pupil performance. Therefore, having realistic project goals and outcomes is recommended.

3. Lessons learned - What the project may do differently in the future

If designing a project again, the project lead would make the following adaptations:

  1. We had a challenge in engaging local businesses and, as is often the case, developing personal professional relationships with individuals helped. Being very clear about potential benefits for businesses is important in the planning phase, but this needs to respond to partner needs, not assumptions.

4. Sustainability measures taken by the project to ensure improvement are sustained beyond the funding period

The project has put in place a range of sustainability measures, some systemic and others more specific.

  1. This SSIF project has had sustainable impact at a number of different levels. On an individual level a significant number of the 38 participants have expressed an increase in perceived efficacy as a leader with 43% reporting career progression in leadership roles or leading on whole-school programmes as a result of the training and support.
  2. There was a clear shift in perspective of participants from a focus on themselves as leaders towards awareness of the impact of their leadership. The coaching element is cited as having the greatest impact here. Therefore, there is legacy and sustainability due to the long-term impact of the training. This is supported in nearly all of the schools that were inspected during the programme (7 of 8) receiving explicit reference to the quality of leadership in Oftsed inspection reports, and these schools maintaining Good or improving Ofsted judgements.
  3. Several (47%) participants now coach colleagues in leadership roles, plus the coaches themselves have been recruited to support leadership training this year across Swindon.
  4. The online materials remain accessible to all current NPQ participants, and key elements of learning from the SSIF has informed new leadership training currently in development ('Thinking Leaders') that will be offered to the sub-region.
  5. Significantly, the Swindon and Wiltshire region will engage with an Oracy programme led by Swindon Teaching School in collaboration with the LAs, Voice 21. Within this, there is a requirement for leaders to assist in the QA and delivery. We anticipate the recruitment of school leaders that have benefited from this training, negating the need for further leadership training (as would be the norm).
  6. A professional relationship has evolved with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) through this programme, with REME and Babcock International contributing to the Leadership Conference, and further school visits, and professional exchanges taking place in one Swindon secondary.
  7. The Nordic Schools also contributed to the leadership conference and from this an Erasmus bid is in place to take school leaders to Denmark in the autumn 2019.


Developing pedagogical expertise in KS2 Mathematics

St John's Church of England First School, Wimborne

1. Overview

The project sought to address a lack of expertise in delivering Key Stage 2 maths across Dorset schools. This had resulted in poor outcomes for Dorset pupils. The aim was to improve the level of expertise in teaching, learning and assessment, by improving subject specific pedagogy using evidence based research, thereby improving progress and outcomes for all pupils. The long-term aims of the project were that the progress at KS2 would not be significantly below national rates for any group of students. Short-term aims were that teachers’ knowledge of pedagogy and skills would be improved, and the capability of maths leads in schools to bring about change increased.

2. Good practice to share with others interested in running school improvement projects to ensure projects deliver the intended outcome.

The project lead said that:

  1. Use of Education Endowment Fund (EEF) evidence based material to provide structure was very effective. The audit tool enabled professionals to create a baseline and provided clear success criteria to evidence progress and impact.
  2. The use of experienced Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs), with a track record of school improvement, to provide bespoke support to schools was a successful approach. Over time, they built trusting and honest relationship with teachers, which enabled change to take place.
  3. Half-termly train the trainer sessions for the SLEs working in schools, delivered by the strategic lead for the project, provided effective CPD sessions for them and offered quality time to reflect, evaluate and share best practice. This built the capacity of this group of system leaders.
  4. High quality training from external providers, bespoke to the needs of the participating schools was a very important element of the programme. 100% of the evaluations stated they were useful or very useful.
  5. Establishing a steering group that met regularly provided an external view and evaluation of termly progress and consideration of next steps.

3. What the project may do differently in the future

The project lead suggested:

  1. Identification of schools to participate need careful consideration. This project chose First and Middle schools intending to offer cross-pollination and improvement across the KS2 age range. In practice, this was not consistent across all schools. The majority of First schools were not target schools for improvement and as such already had strong practice in place. Although there were some strong connections and shared CPD made between First and Middle schools, this was harder to achieve than expected.
  2. Ensure all headteachers have a full understanding of the project aims and expectations from the start of the project to maximise engagement and commitment from schools.
  3. Time the project to run from the start of the academic year to the end; starting mid-year made it more challenging to get started quickly
  4. Having a clear point of contact to discuss finances with each school makes managing the overall project budget easier and ensures all the money allocated to schools is claimed in a timely way.

4. Sustainability measures taken by projects to ensure improvement are sustained beyond the funding period.

A Sustainability plan was created by SLEs and Maths Leads in each school with the agreement of the Headteacher/Senior Leadership Team to:

  1. Agree the final position of the school’s work, the outcomes and the next steps
  2. Indicate the value of continuing to use the EEF toolkit to audit their needs, precisely identify priorities and success criteria
  3. Consider further SLE support to be bought in termly to support monitoring and evaluation ie book scrutiny, lesson observations and any other training needs.
  4. Identify training needs for individual staff , department or whole school
  5. Link with appropriate Maths Hubs work groups ie Primary Mastery Programme
  6. Confirm arrangements to monitor attainment and progress scores within KS2 results 2019, 2020, 2021 to identify longer term improvements and gains
  7. Contribute to existing networks and develop new networks to share and disseminate effective pedagogical practice in KS2 mathematics post project

In addition

  1. The project worked to ensure teachers and maths leads were developing the confidence and expertise to lead improvement in maths across their school and beyond through the external input combined with the work with SLEs
  2. SLE Evaluations/testimonials with schools provided reflections of progress and achievements which highlighted impact
  3. The project team sought to identify and develop systems leaders from within SSIF schools and facilitate professional development towards SLE designation for key system leaders.

Plymouth Oracy Project

Plymouth Teaching School Alliance

1. Overview 

“Oracy is what the school does to support the development of children’s capacity to use speech to express their thoughts and communicate with others, in education and in life” (Alexander, 2016 cited in Menzies and Millard, 2016). Empirical evidence and local data identifies a link between poverty, language development, and learning. There is a causal relationship between oracy and progress and attainment, behaviour, social mobility, mental health, and parental engagement.

The project improved teachers’ theoretical and pedagogical understanding of dialogic talk for learning, with a particular focus on disadvantaged pupils’ oracy development and educational outcomes. Other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) included pupil attendance, behaviour, maths reasoning, reading, writing, and, in the second phase, parental engagement. Expertise from several providers in oracy were drawn on. The project was based on existing collaborative teaching projects across schools in Plymouth, school to school support through specially trained Senior Leaders of Education (SLEs) and external evaluation from Marjons Higher Education Institute (HEI). In addition, to promote a regional focus and prepare for scalability, SLEs were trained from other TSAs in Cornwall, Torbay, North Devon, Swindon and North Wiltshire who piloted the project in their own locality.

2. Good practice to share with others interested in running school improvement projects to ensure projects deliver the intended outcome.

The main practices of the Oracy project, those that are transferable and recommended to other projects are:

  1. The project ensured the Senior Leadership Teams (SLT) and Headteachers (HTs) were involved with all key training as well as teachers and support staff. This ensured that the SLT had a good understanding of the project and ensured it was embedded within the school vision and strategic planning.
  2. SLEs and National Leaders of Education (NLEs) were used to visit schools following training sessions to support the implemenation of learning within each unique school setting.
  3. A large variety of national and international experts on the Oracy topic were used rather than only relying on local knowledge or one point of contact for the development.
  4. A project manager who has a background in teaching and can therefore understand the needs and challenges of schools was important for project success.

3. Lessons learned - What the project may do differently in the future

  1. Now that the project is running in other areas, the content and order of the training have been considered and adapted to reflect this. It is also important to have a range of cross phase, as well as separate, primary and secondary training.

4. Sustainability measures taken by projects to ensure improvement are sustained beyond the funding period.

The Project has several suggested recommendations for ensure improvements gained throughout the project are sustained beyond the funding period.

As a result of the SSIF 1 Funded Plymouth Oracy Project, there are a number of actions and activites in place to ensure sustainability of Oracy development within the South West. These include:

  1. A PTSA Oracy Hub which will provide national and local CPD to schools in Plymouth and the South West. For 2019-20 this CPD includes Oli de Botton, Carol Sattherthwaite, Neil Mercer, Lyn Dawes, Michael Rosen and many more.
  2. PTSA Oracy training will be disemmintated to a number of regions within the South West, incorporating evaluations from previous sessions and lessons learned on the journey. The first areas this will be delivered in are Torridge and Taunton.
  3. Key research projects will continue in Plymouth schools for oracy development and these will be used to inform future practice.
  4. The Plymouth Oracy Project is presenting at a number of national events and conferences, including the national ResearchED conference in London in September. This project has developed a number of expert speakers, who are developing skills and practices further.
  5. In collaboration with Plymouth Marjon University, there are a number of article submissions on the work of the project. The first to be approved is an article in the CCT Impact magazine in September 2019. Other submissions will be made to BERA and further research institutions.
  6. The Plymouth Oracy Project 'Outcomes and Lessons Learned' have been presented to the SW REP board in July 2019 and also Region D Teaching School Meetings.




Developing and embedding successful and sustainable strategies in Somerset schools to improve progress and attainment in KS2 Maths

Heathfield Community School

 1. Overview

There is a clear and demonstrable need to address outcomes in Mathematics at KS2 in schools across Somerset both at the Expected and the Higher standard. Our purpose was to significantly improve these outcomes with regard to both progress and attainment and to ensure that good, flexible Maths teaching practices are embedded into every year of the key stage.

The main focus was to implement a range of proven and successful mathematics strategies in the targeted schools across Key Stage 2 that would lead to improved outcomes in the short, medium and long term.

Our planned outcomes were:

  1. to move the targeted schools from significantly below expected outcomes to broadly in line with national standards
  2. to build on this and sustain the increase so that results become significantly above nationally expected outcomes.
  3. to embed the strategies in a sustainable way into the schools.
  4. Summative research from the EEF indicated that a successful approach to developing mathematics in schools is 'likely to involve a mix of whole class teaching, small group and one to one tuition, alongside Teaching Assistants delivering structured interventions in a targeted manner' and the programmes and delivery partners have all been chosen to give precisely this mix.
  5. to ensure that the senior leaders, teachers and the teaching assistants in the targeted schools are all convinced of the efficacy of the programmes, that they are the ones who are empowered to deliver them and that they have the necessary resources to do so.
  6. to equally empower the students so that they are confident, happy and enquiring users of Maths who have developed the metacognitive skills to transform themselves.

2. Good practice to share with others interested in running school improvement projects to ensure projects deliver the intended outcome.

  1. Group meetings with representatives of all participant schools (led by the project managers) at critical stages of the programme (e.g. start, one third through, mid-way through etc.) are an excellent way of conveying important information to participants and also gaining feedback from schools, with their views on the progress of the project and how aspects might be improved.
  2. Comprehensive communications with participant schools is important to ensure information is circulated effectively and their engagement with the project is maximised.
  3. The Boolean Maths Hub Introduction to Mastery for Maths Leads led by Lisa Pollard was deemed by a significant number of delegates to be an extremely inspiring, motivating and empowering course in terms of how the teaching (and planning of Maths teaching) is approached in their schools. If future, similar projects take place it is recommended that Maths Leads (and subject teachers) attend similar Maths Hub 'Mastery' training sessions early in the programme's delivery to benefit from the added understanding it provides regarding the aims of raising classroom standards.
  4. IMPACT (Improved Maths Progress and Class Teaching) led by Wessex Teaching School (Huish Primary School) was viewed as an extremely positive intervention by Maths Leads in terms of supporting their Maths planning, teaching practice and providing the opportuity to forge links with other Maths Leads and the space and time to share ideas / resources with each other and gain added confidence to implement new-found knowledge / methods back at their schools.

3. Lessons learned - What the project may do differently in the future

  1. Delivery of the training simultaneously with a programme of scheduled school visits to ensure an ongoing assessment of school plans and ability to share training across staff members and departments (not conducting the training first, then Quality Assurance some time afterwards). An on-going, formative support process around implementation and follow-up would be beneficial.
  2. In schools where leadership and management is weak, it is often the case that implementation of new knowledge and skills through training is also weak. Where leadership and management is strong in schools, it is clear to see how this new capacity is being employed with associated impact. At the start of the project, each school could be provided more leadership support to ensure the programme’s integration into School Improvement Plans.
  3. Throughout the project, the Maths Teaching & Learning, Maths Leadership and Maths Classroom Support training provided was of the highest quality, however if implementation is subsequently weak through poor school/department leadership, the impact in the classroom will be correspondingly weak. Future projects might consider extra, supporting training in school leadership to underpin the main aim of the school improvement intervention.
  4. There is a case for introducing fewer intervention strategies within one school improvement project, so that those intervention strands that schools/staff are trained in, are then explored and implemented in greater depth, with more time available to train and cascade knowledge across each individual school and the wider project participant cohort. In some cases, schools did not have the staffing capacity to be able engage fully with all the introduced intervention strands, choosing instead to focus on one over others.
  5. Project Design / Scaled Offer: the project’s design must take into account the size of individual schools and allocate resources and training places accordingly, rather than being a uniform, standardised offer for every school.
  6. If timelines are too tight for the delivery of various intervention strands of the programme, these time pressures impact greatly on both implementation and subsequent, ongoing engagement.
  7. Be aware of the fact that teacher staffing changes and changes to school leadership can have a negative impact on the implementation of programme interventions.
  8. Training programmes in the future should be underpinned with the EEF guide to implementation.

4. Sustainability measures taken by the project to ensure improvement are sustained beyond the funding period

  1. All participant schools have been repeatedly advised and actively encouraged to contact the Boolean Maths Hub, Jurassic Maths Hub and NCETM for more information on how they will benefit from accessing particular networks of support that are available to them. Some of the participant schools have done this already and have, for example, applied to take part in the next round of the Teaching for Mastery Programme.
  2. The NCETM SW Regional Lead, Annabelle Grose, produced an individual 'Four Year Potential Maths Development Journey' for each of the 21 participant schools, which has been sent on to them each separately. The Maths Journey outlines the steps/aspects of the NCETM support that would best benefit the school at certain points over the coming years.
  3. Each school has been asked to provide information on which of the Maths intervention strands they will definitley be continuing with and embedding into their teaching practice. It will then be possible to communicate to the schools which of the other schools are using the same strands so that they can link together if they wish and collaborate with each other in in supporting the sustainability of a particular Maths intervention use and application. If you would like more information on which Maths interventions were used in the project, please contact Pippa Bailey on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
  4. The Director of Taunton Teaching Alliance shared information about the SSIF KS2 Maths Improvement Programme at the Regional Education Partnership Board Meeting with key stakeholder representatives present from across Somerset, N. Somerset, Bath, Bristol, BANES and South Gloucestershire.

Reducing the reading achievement gap. Improving literacy skills and progress for KS2 pupils with a focus on those with SEND and in result of the Pupil Premium

Gloucestershire LA

1. Overview

The project aimed to improve the reading and literacy skills of KS2 SEND pupils and pupils receiving PP and close the current reading achievement gap within the Forest of Dean schools. These pupil groups were achieving below the county and national averages in progress scores for reading and for English and Maths A*-C grades.

The project planned to provide structured training and support to Forest of Dean schools to enable them to identify specific literacy needs and deliver targeted, evidenced based intervention to vulnerable learners. In addition to this, the project planned to work with whole-school and library service partners to develop a culture of ‘Reading for Pleasure’ within schools.

Planned short term outcomes include; training and up-skilling teachers in delivering and monitoring literacy interventions and ‘Reading for Pleasure’ logs show pupils independently choosing to read.

In the longer term, intended outcomes in the supported schools were:

  1. School and LA data evidencing improved progress scores for pupils with PP and SEND pupils in reading and writing by March 2019
  2. Narrowing of the achievement gap
  3. More targeted pupils are on track to make expected levels of progress.
  4. Year 7 data showing that pupils are better prepared to engage with the curriculum.

The project also aimed to demonstrate that evidenced based, targeted and well delivered and monitored interventions have more of a positive and lasting impact on progress than the reliance on TA support alone to meet vulnerable learners’ needs.

2. Good practice to share with others interested in running school improvement projects to ensure projects deliver the intended outcome.

The project lead makes the following recommendations based on elements of successful practice that featured in this project:

  1. Close monitoring of progress within supported schools for the duration of the project.
  2. Visits to gauge actual progress and provide individualised support and coaching to members of those schools involved in the project (the working party).
  3. Enable individual schools to identify how strategies need to be adapted and successes shared with the wider working party.
  4. Delivery of intervention is by credible experts in terms of subject knowledge and understanding of the specific contextual challenges of the supported schools.

3. Lessons learned - What the project may do differently in the future

If running the project again the project lead recommends the following:

  1. Working party members have the authority to make decisions, lead, and influence change.
  2. Evidence of intended outcomes are achievable in the lifecycle of the project.
  3. Outcomes and measures of success need to specific and clear
  4. The supported school can dedicate appropriate time and focus to this project and take care to avoid simultaneous interventions.
  5. School leadership supports the project.
  6. School climate is conducive to good implementation of the project.

NOTE: whilst judgement on the latter three points can be made prior to starting the project, acknowledge that these can be affected part way through the lifecycle of the project due to e.g. staff changes of Ofsted inspection.

3. Sustainability measures taken by the project to ensure improvement are sustained beyond the funding period

The project has put in place the following sustainability measures:

  1. A network of leads has been developed across the group of supported schools and communication structures established (scheduled meetings and Facebook page)
  2. Staff within supported schools have been upskilled and resources to support ongoing impact purchased,

An overview of the project including our approach, the features of successful schools and impact have been shared more widely with Gloucestershire County. This has included presentations at Gloucester LA annual Head Teacher conference (March 2019), LA English Subject Leader Meetings (June 2019) and Closing the Gap conference (October 2019).