TSC head defends 'high bar' as 3 in 4 teaching school hub bids rejected

Just one in four applicants to the government’s new teaching school hubs programme were approved, new figures show.

Data released under the freedom of information act shows the government received 27 applications for the “test and learn” phase of its teaching school hubs, of which 25 were eligible.

Ministers announced last week that six schools across England have been appointed to lead the first wave of teaching school hubs. It means 19 of the eligible applications, or 76 per cent, were rejected.

The DfE had budgeted for up to nine hubs. If all nine had been created, two thirds of bids would still have missed out.

Speaking to Schools Week last week, Richard Gill, the head of the Teaching Schools Council, defended the decision to create just six new hubs in the first round.

“A high bar was set, both in terms of progress data but also track record. The press release [in May] clearly stated that the test-and-learn phase would be tested in ‘up to nine areas of the country’,” he said.

The six hubs will split £1.1 million in funding between them, and each will work with between 200 and 300 other schools.

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 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.

Gill said teaching schools had “brought about positive change since their inception in 2011”, but had since recognised the need to work “in a different way”, leading to “many exciting regional collaborative ventures”.

“The concept of teaching school hubs recognises the changing educational landscape and helps create the structures to allow this to be developed further nationally.

“It is not without challenge and, therefore, the concept of a test-and-learn phase to see how this might work in different areas of the country is important. The application process was well received, resulting in considerable interest from the sector.”