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Underperforming schools 'could raise standards with local partnerships'

20/07/2017 Joanna

Pairing underperforming schools with higher-achieving schools in their local area could be a cost-effective means of raising standards, according to a new report.

Analysis from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has indicated that considerable potential exists within England's state schools system to improve the quality of underperforming schools in need of support through school-to-school partnerships within a set radius.

It was found that 27 per cent of primary schools in England can currently be classified as high-performing institutions with the potential to provide school-to-school support, compared to only 12 per cent that are underperforming. Among secondary schools, these percentages stood at 33 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively.

Moreover, it was shown that each secondary school in need has an average of two high-performing primary schools nearby with which they could potentially form a partnership, a figure that rises to an average of nine for primary schools.

Given that the number of high-performing schools exceeds the number of schools in need in all government office regions at primary level and most regions at secondary level, NFER said that collaborations of this kind could offer an established and cost-effective source of support for underperforming schools.

However, it was noted that this would require a willingness to collaborate, and capacity within high-performing schools that may already be supporting other schools. Additionally, regional differences in the capacity to collaborate would need to be accounted for, as schools in London would have a much broader range of partnership options than, for example, those in Yorkshire and the Humber.

NFER chief executive Carole Willis said: "We hope that this evidence will be used to support heads and governing bodies, showing them that they have a range of local potential partnership options available.

"Harnessing support from same-phase high-performing schools in close proximity will maximise the potential for successful collaboration."

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