Education charity pulls support services to make way for teaching schools

An education charity has announced it will step away from providing school improvement services for a county council so teaching schools can instead lead the way.

The CfBT Education Trust has run school support services for Lincolnshire County Council since 2002 – including helping schools in difficulties.

But the trust’s contract with the council will not be renewed when it runs out in August, meaning 20 staff will be made redundant.

CfBT has also announced it will pull out of providing support services bought directly by schools and end its teaching training service – which trains up to a hundred teachers a year.

Instead the duties will be handed over to teaching schools – mirroring a national shift driven by the government to move school improvement services away from the role of councils and into schools.

Last month’s white paper announced that from September next year, school improvement funding will be increasingly routed through teaching schools.

Regional schools commissioners (RSCs) will also be able to access an “intervention fund” to commission school improvement support from “within the system” for those schools deemed failing or coasting.

We firmly believe teaching schools are best placed to take these services forward

Keith Batty, CfBT’s director of programmes, said the trust “firmly believes that teaching schools are best placed to take these services forward”.

The trust’s chief executive Steve Munby (pictured above) has also long been a supporter of teaching schools and played a major role in establishing the schools while working at the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services.

The trust, which recently changed its name to the Education Development Trust but is still known as CfBT in Lincoln, expects many of the departing staff to find jobs within one of the region’s nine teaching schools, or with an academy trust.

Schools Week has previously reported concerns that many teaching schools are struggling financially. The alliances are all expected to become self-sustaining, but many still rely on government funding.

But in a joint letter sent to headteachers last year, Mr Batty and Heather Sandy, chief commissioner for learning at Lincolnshire County Council, said work has been ongoing to ensure “teaching schools are ready”.

The council has also spearheaded the formation of the Lincolnshire Learning Partnership to help schools drive improvement. More than 330 schools in the region have joined the partnership.

Andrew Chisholm, Lincolnshire Teaching Schools Alliance (LTSA) director, told the Lincolnite that “schools are united in their support of a Lincolnshire-focused teacher training programme”

LTSA – which is made up of 22 member schools – has reportedly recruited more than 80 trainee teachers to its courses for this September.

Mr Chisholm added: “One of the most exciting things about running a school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) is that we can identify special areas of need within our participating schools and then advertise for, interview and train the outstanding teachers that we require.”

The government has pledged to create another 300 teaching schools and said it will better target school improvement funding to where the system most needs it.

The white paper outlines how teaching schools will become “brokerage hubs” for school leaders to arrange improvement and that a new online portal will be established to match support to schools.

The government will also provide more cash for RSCs to bring in new sponsors for underperforming schools, attract new sponsors and encourage others to grow.

The white paper states RSCs will “generally” commission school improvement through the teaching schools hubs, but will be able to “commission different support where they see fit”.

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