SOME of Oxfordshire’s highest performing schools are joining forces to form a teaching alliance.
The county is one of the few areas of the country which does not have any teaching schools – the education equivalent of a teaching hospital.
Now three outstanding schools, backed by a strategic partnership of a further 20 good or outstanding schools and Oxford’s two universities, have applied to become teaching schools and form a new multi-school teaching alliance, called Education Excellence Oxfordshire.
They are the Cherwell School in Oxford, King Alfred’s Academy in Wantage and Frank Wise Special School in Banbury.
Cherwell headteacher Paul James said: “We want to raise Ofsted grades, raise achievement and raise the profile of professional learning, teacher training and get other schools in a position where they can also be lead teaching schools.”
Many of the things which teaching schools carry out already happen in some of the schools, such as initial and further teacher training, research and school-to-school support.
But teaching schools are the only places where specialist leaders in education – high quality middle or senior leaders – can be accredited.
Mr James said: “It creates a really positive culture for professional learning for staff and it benefits all of us within Oxfordshire if all of our schools improve on levels of attainment, achievement and progress.
“But the bottom line is it’s about children and young people in Oxfordshire.”
The lead teaching schools will be closely scrutinised, with extra visits from Ofsted.
Performance will be measured based on exam results, the proportion of schools within the strategic partnership which improve their Ofsted categories and the number of leadership positions which are filled.
Teaching schools will be where new Government initiatives are rolled out first.
Simon Spiers, headteacher at King Alfred’s, said: “It will bring huge opportunities to all our staff in the area and across Oxfordshire, both secondary, primary and special.
“We know if we upskill teachers and support staff, it will have a direct impact on teaching and learning in the classroom and that in itself has an impact on raising attainment.
“If we want Oxfordshire to be at the forefront of what’s going on, we need to have an alliance of teaching schools across Oxfordshire to have access to a range of exciting initiatives.”
Only one of the three schools needs teaching school status for the alliance to get the go-ahead.
Frank Wise headteacher Sean O’Sullivan said he was keen to be involved to ensure that special schools were represented as equal partners.
He said special schools had a lot of expertise to share about how to deal with children experiencing a range of difficulties and already gave training on issues such as behaviour management or language development.
The application has been submitted to the National College which will make a representation to Education Secretary Michael Gove.
A decision is due to be taken in March and, if approved, the new teaching schools could be up and running by April.
THE STRATEGIC PARTNERS
Appleton Primary School, Abingdon
Bartholomew School, Eynsham
Cheney School, Oxford
Chipping Norton School
Dashwood Banbury Academy
Didcot Girls’ School
Gosford Hill School, Kidlington
Ladygrove Park Primary School, Didcot
Lord Williams’s School, Thame
Matthew Arnold School, Oxford
Rush Common School, Abingdon
St Birinus School, Didcot
St Ebbe’s Primary School, Oxford
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Oxford
The Cherwell School, Oxford
The Warriner School, Bloxham
Windmill Primary School, Oxford