Blog: Should Schools Be Engaging With Teaching Schools?

Blog by Lisa Fathers, Head of Teaching School / Bright Futures Educational Trust Co-Principal


To me this is a question with an obvious answer!

  • Are we better together ?
  • Is deep collaboration which includes support and challenge helpful ?
  • Do you want to find creative ways to retain your best staff?
  • Do you want to provide cost effective, personalised CPD?
  • Are there any subjects in school that didn’t perform as well as others?
  • Would you like your schools profile enhanced with no extra cost to your school?

If your answer to ANY of the questions above is ‘ YES’ then you might want to consider contacting a local Teaching School and having a conversation about opportunities. It’s a two way street, contributing to a Teaching School and being able to access what your partner Teaching School is offering is mutually beneficial.

There is sometimes a misconception that Teaching Schools are just out to ‘make money’. The truth is far from that. At the Alliance for Learning (AfL)  we are driven by a deep desire to improve outcomes for all children and that’s it! Using a sensible business model we are in a position where we can cover most costs, but for a long time it wasn’t the case. Equally our SCITT ( School Centred Initial Teacher Training) isn’t a ‘cash cow’ either – the money comes in and goes straight out, supporting the training of new teachers. We are passionate about creating the next generation of fantastic teachers and we want our partner schools to grow their own future workforce.

Another misconception is that Teaching Schools don’t want to work together with other Teaching Schools. This is not the way we work! Teaching Schools are full of generous people who are outward facing and who genuinely believe in the power of collaboration and networking. We are part of the GM LLE Collaborative – a group of local Teaching Schools working together to train and designate LLEs. The AfL is currently supporting two newly designated Teaching Schools to launch and we are sharing good practice about our SLE model with two additional Teaching Schools. Also I’m coaching three female colleagues as part of the” Women into Leadership” coaching model supported by Women Ed.

We use our partner schools to deliver all sorts of things for us and they obviously get the credit for this along with a share of the income.  And to clear up some confusion on who can join what:

  • If the Teaching School Alliance you want to join is part of a MAT, you can join that Alliance without having anything to do with the MAT .
  • You can be in a separate MAT and join a Teaching School Alliance.
  • You can be part of more than one Alliance as they can offer different things that you might want for your school- it’s an open network.

On a practical level, in the current funding environment it’s essential that schools proactively market themselves and being part of a Teaching School is one way to do this. For many schools results are not the ‘whole story’ and bring part of something bigger gives you a way to sell your schools positives on a much larger scale.

Teaching Schools can help to get your overarching messages across to a wider audience through channels such as social media. Teaching Schools can endorse the things you say about yourself ( as long as we know it’s true!). Networks and partnerships are so crucially important and they all start with human relationships ❤️.

Why not pick up the phone to your local teaching school and arrange for them to pop in for  coffee and a chat about what they can offer your school? Some schools are already in Alliances –  but not making the most of the relationship ….. is it time to refresh those partnerships, share your vision and find new exciting ways to work together? In the last year absolutely loads of our partner schools have improved their Ofsted grades and I know my Teaching School made a significant contribution to all of their journeys. We’ve trained over 1500 delegates in the last year and we have over 70 high quality SLEs but we need more. And that will probably be the case for Teaching Schools all across the country. So please do get in touch!

I’m so excited about this year.  If you want to chat to me about your school just give me a shout. If you want to join a Teaching School Alliance I can point you in the direction of your local TSA as well.

If you know a school that still doesn’t even know what a Teaching School is –  my call to action is that you help them understand!

Alliance for Learning
Cavendish Road, Bowdon
Altrincham WA14 2NL
Proud to part of the Bright Futures Education Trust