DfE scales back teaching school hubs plan

Only around 1,200 schools will benefit from an improvement scheme intended by ministers to reach 2,000 institutions, the Department for Education has said.

The government has been forced to scale back the first phase of its teaching school hub programme after a recruitment drive failed to attract enough high-quality bids.

Teaching school hubs are the government’s latest school improvement initiative. They are to be run by “high-performing schools”, and will seek to “simplify and strengthen” the way schools support each other to improve.

Ministers announced in May that £2 million would be shared between nine hubs under the first phase of the project, which was supposed to be launched last autumn. Those nine hubs were supposed to reach 2,000 schools between them.

However, the DfE said today that just six hubs had been chosen to work with between 200 and 300 schools each, meaning the number of schools impacted could be as low as 1,200. The funding for the scheme has also been reduced to £1.1 million.

The scaling back of the project in its early phases will have come as a disappointment to ministers, who are placing great weight on the hubs programme as part of a review of school improvement mechanisms.

The DfE has even halted recruitment of national leaders of education and governance (NLEs and NLGs) while it reviews the entire system, placing a greater emphasis on the hubs model. The number of NLEs and NLGs in the system has subsequently dropped by a fifth.

But despite the setback, Lord Agnew, the academies minister, hailed the establishment of the first six hubs as a positive move.

“It is vital that we back our best school leaders and help them to support struggling schools so that we can continue to drive forward the high standards we are already seeing in schools across the country,” he said.

“These new teaching school hubs will make it easier for the best school leaders to share expert advice and help schools in their local communities, ensuring that those schools facing the greatest challenges are supported as simply and efficiently as possible.”

The six hubs are Harrogate Grammar School, Kingsbridge Community College, Silverdale School in Sheffield, Harris Academy Chafford Hundred, Copthorne Primary School in Bradford and Saffron Walden County High School.