I have recently read the NFER research paper Capacity for Collaboration? Analysis of School to School Support Capacity in England Essentially, the research suggests that there is capacity for high performing schools to support those who need some help.
However, schools working in partnership must have answers to these questions if the potential to create a self-improving system is to be realised,
- What is the available evidence that examines best practice of where schools collaborate successfully?
- Who across the respective schools, both those deemed to be high performing and those in need of help, is responsible for ensuring successful collaboration happens?
- Who determines the needs of all the schools involved including the lead school?
- What can each school offer in relation to their relative strengths and experience?
- How is success defined and how is this agreed across the respective schools?
- What are the measures used to assess impact?
Collaboration, and learning from what works well through the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice is fundamental to any successful organisation. Schools and colleges by their very nature find this difficult even within the environs of one organisation. Silos exist between subject specialisms, key stages and year groups. Timetable constraints create a barrier; opportunities for meetings are limited and pupils’ demands take time and energy. With this in mind a strategy for collaboration across a partnership needs to be very clearly orchestrated.
Coaching is one of the most powerful ways of ensuring successful collaboration.
Coaching is solutions focused. A coach will:-
- tease out how those who lead determine their goals and evaluate how realistic they are
- help those involved to identify their own strengths and the qualities of others; not just those in the lead school but of all the schools involved
- question individuals to identify their needs and their learning agenda in order to ensure that the process leads to a culture of excellence and improvement across all the schools
- make everyone reflect on their priorities in relation to the part they play in the collaborative process and question how to deflect other issues that stand in the way of a successful outcome
The capacity for collaboration is there. The opportunity to embrace what is outstanding and cascade it widely is there. Coaching is a proven tool in the box. It is without doubt, the pedagogy that delivers outstanding learning and will provide the framework for positive organisational change.