DfE selects HGS to become ‘Teaching School Hub’

Harrogate Grammar School – part of the Red Kite Learning Trust, which is based across Leeds and North Yorkshire – has been selected to be one of only six pilot ‘Teaching School Hubs’ that have been announced by the government. The new Hubs will play a key role in leading and co-ordinating school improvement activities across their allocated areas. Richard Sheriff, Director of the Red Kite Alliance commenting on the successful bid said that “We are delighted to have been selected to lead on this exciting new project which aims to build on the success of the Teaching School movement and help co-ordinate and magnify the impact of this work across our region. This is not about one Alliance having all the answers, it is about ensuring that the capacity and expertise we have across all our schools is used effectively to ensure no school is left behind.” The three-year pilot will involve the Red Kite Alliance taking a lead role in school-led improvement activities across four North Yorkshire districts: Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate and Richmondshire. At this stage the pilot will be limited in scale but in the future this could change. “This is a real ‘test and learn’ pilot and the Department for Education (DfE) are keen to work with us to see what works and what doesn’t” said Richard Sheriff. “This gives our region a fantastic opportunity to help shape government policy for schools nationally based on real evidence from our schools and their leaders”.

The Alliance is very clear about its values, “We established our values together very early on in our partnership and they underpin our work; professional generosity and ethical behaviour are crucial to us in working in the interests of children and young people.” It is these values that Richard hopes will make it possible for colleagues and partners who don’t yet know Red Kite to engage positively with the Hub. “Any new development like this is often seen as a threat and particularly when it is led by an organisation you don’t know. We appreciate this and want to reach out and demonstrate our commitment to building a strong, sustainable network of partners that can be inclusive as well as ambitious and innovative.”

Richard is clear however that there is not a fixed view of how this will work best; “We first want to understand all that is already going on within and between the schools in our allocated area. We are keen to get out and listen to school leaders and start to understand the needs of the schools so we can shape provision to the local context. This is about us working intelligently to act as a ‘multiplier’ of the good practice that already exists rather than pretending to have all the answers.”

Richard and his colleagues in the Red Kite Alliance believe there is a real opportunity now for schools; “The Teaching School Hub is a way of partnering to weave a golden thread to pull together the different school improvement activities happening across our region. If we can get this right it will mean all schools can benefit and no school, however remote, is left without the support it needs to serve its children.”

The Red Kite Alliance is a partnership of 45 schools across North Yorkshire and Leeds that has been working together for over 10 years. The Alliance is involved in a range of school improvement work from providing initial teacher training to the provision of leadership development programmes for staff. It is this track record of collaboration and impact that impressed the DfE and led to the selection as a Hub. “The work done as an Alliance over many years has shown the power of schools working together, not just to be friendly to each other but to really support and challenge each other to deliver outstanding opportunities for the children we serve. We now relish the opportunity to take what we have learned together and apply that to the areas we have responsibility for in North Yorkshire.” Each Hub has to have an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ school as a lead institution and Harrogate Grammar School performs that role but Richard comments, “there are other outstanding schools in our Alliance and this gives us strength in depth across the partnership. It is this broad alliance of schools that gives Red Kite our capacity and sustainability. It is never about just one school, it is about being stronger together.

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