What is a Teaching School?


Teaching schools are outstanding schools that work with others to provide high-quality training and development to new and experienced school staff. They are part of the government’s plan to give schools a central role in raising standards by developing a self-improving and sustainable school-led system.

By October 2016, the government’s goal is to have a network of 600 teaching schools making significant improvements in the quality of teaching, leadership and pupil attainment.

To apply to become a teaching school a school must:

  • have an outstanding rating from Ofsted
  • provide evidence of successful partnerships
  • show excellent leadership with a proven track record of school improvement
  • have an outstanding headteacher with at least 3 years’ experience
  • have a leadership team with the capacity to lead the 6 core areas of the teaching school role

All the teaching schools that work within an alliance must contribute to an appropriate  level ensuring that the individual efforts that make up the alliance’s performance are easily identifiable whenever an activity is reviewed.

A Teaching School, will identify, develop and co-ordinate expertise for the benefit of learners across a network of settings and schools, resulting in:

  • better results for children
  • fewer poorly performing schools or Early Years settings
  • more good and outstanding schools or Early Years settings
  • a self-improving and sustainable system


There are 6 core areas of responsibility for teaching schools.


  1. School-led initial teacher training

A teaching School must develop opportunities to provide school-led initial teacher training by:

  • leading the development of school-led initial teacher training through School Direct or by gaining accreditation as an initial teacher training provider
  • taking an active role in the recruitment and selection of trainee teachers
  • developing a clear plan for teacher training, including:
    • access to outstanding lessons and teachers for observation and planning
    • mentoring
    • quality assurance
    • co-ordination of initial teacher training with professional development opportunities
  1. Continuing professional development

A Teaching School will offer a range of professional development opportunities for teachers, practitioners and support staff, extending a strong learning culture to schools and settings which they work with. These must build on Early Years practitioner development , initial teacher training and induction to:

  • identify the best EYs Practitioners, teachers and leaders from across the alliance to provide school/setting based professional development
  • tailor development to meet the specific needs of schools and settings
  • offer coaching and mentoring
  • evaluate the impact of professional development across the alliance
  • offer opportunities for formal accreditation or school-based research


  1. Supporting other schools

A Teaching School leads the co-ordination of school/setting to-school/setting support. This usually involves working with a setting or school in challenging circumstances to bring about improvement.

They identify priorities in the area and support under-performing settings and schools. The Local authority also works with us to support settings and schools in need of improvement.

The best leaders work to improve the quality of learning, teaching and leadership where it is most needed.

This includes deciding how to use the services of system leaders to provide support to other settings and schools, such as:

  • EYs lead practitioners and aspirant leaders
  • middle and senior leaders working as specialist leaders of education
  • headteachers working as local and national leaders of education
  • chairs of governors working as national leaders of governance

Information on these can be found on the gov.uk website  guide to system leader roles.


  1. Identifying and developing leadership potential

A Teaching School will develop successful succession planning strategies to identify and develop people to fill leadership positions in the future by:

  • developing future leaders to help meet the most pressing national needs in the EYs and Primary
  • taking action to help to more women and leaders from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to become senior leaders
  • putting processes in place to identify potential leaders in areas of need
  • developing potential leaders within and across our settings/schools
  • building strategic governance and partnerships in order to make decisions about developing and placing potential leaders


  1. Specialist leaders of education

Specialist leaders of education are outstanding middle and senior leaders. They have at least 2 years’ leadership experience in a particular specialism (eg maths, family support, transition and assessment).

Their role is to support individuals or teams in a similar position in other settings and schools. They help others achieve outstanding leadership in their area of specialism.

A Teaching School recruits and manages the placements of specialist leaders of education through:

  • identifying subject area priorities within the alliance
  • setting up a panel of leaders to assess applicants
  • using eligibility criteria to select specialist leaders of education
  • ensuring that the recruitment process is fair
  • notifying the National College of outcomes and confirming them to applicants
  • dealing with applicant appeals
  • organising training for specialist leaders of education
  • deploying specialist leader of education work within your alliance
  • ensuring that specialist leaders of education are providing high-quality support that is having a positive impact


  1. Research and development

To meet this responsibility, a Teaching School will:

  • build on existing research and contribute to alliance and wider priorities
  • base new initiatives within the alliance on existing evidence and ensure they are measured
  • work with other teaching schools in the area, or nationally, where appropriate
  • ensure that staff use existing evidence
  • allow staff the time and support they need to take part in research and development activities
  • share learning from research and development work with the wider school system
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