What is it?
The Hounslow Learning Partnership (HLP) is a partnership between all schools and between the Council and schools. It was established to provide a sustainable and robust school improvement model. It promotes collective responsibility and shared accountability for the educational outcomes of children and young people in Hounslow. HLP is designed to drive improvement in the quality of education, ensuring that the proportion of good and outstanding schools grows and is sustained. It was established quickly, supported by a significant proportion of Primary schools and has seen a marked improvement in performance in the outcome for Hounslow Primary Schools in just 2 years.
Establishing the HLP
HLP was designed with local Headteachers to meet the need for a robust and sustainable school led improvement system. Initial scoping began in the spring term of 2014 with an external education consultant leading discussions with a task and finish group of Headteachers and LA officers. In the summer term the new model was piloted particularly the school peer challenge process.
The HLP has a shared understanding of present attainment and progress and have commissioned an annual performance score card. The HLP sets an annual performance challenge in response to the current attainment and progress and the ambition they have for children and young people in Hounslow.
44 schools committed to the model in 2014 from across the Primary and Special School sector. This included 1 Academy and 1 Free school. A small number of schools did not commit to the process for September 2015 but on a positive note 1 those schools is re-joining this year along with 3 new schools (2 of which are Free Schools). This means that 46 schools will be involved in the HLP from September 2016.
Key elements of the model
The school peer challenge (PC) programme is at the heart of the HLP work. Schools are placed into groups of 3 (triad) or 4 (quad) and undertake a day long peer challenge session twice a year. The Special schools who have committed to the model are additional members of a Triad. These groups of 3 or 4 are then allocated to one of four ‘Collaboratives’. Each school hosts a peer challenge session which is led by the other 2 Headteachers in the group of 3 schools and each peer challenge has a particular focus but Teaching and Learning remain a core theme throughout.
Each collaborative has a Lead Head teacher (LHT) who also sits on the HLP Board. When the model was introduced, all Headteachers involved in the PC programme received training and this training is offered to Headteachers when their schools join the programme. The training helps them prepare for their new role, looking at the key skills required for successful school to school, peer to peer support and challenge.
One PC in each Triad is quality assured at least once a year. This quality assurance is undertaken by someone external to the borough and provides an objective judgement on the process and on the accuracy of the judgements. They also bring expertise and knowledge from their work elsewhere. QA colleagues consistently report the positive feedback from Headteachers regarding the PC process and the high level of skills shown by the Lead Reviewers.
For every PC a handbook is produced to support colleagues in the process. The handbook includes a suggested programme for the day, protocols, preparation and procedures that everyone is expected to adhere to and a model peer challenge report. Standard reporting formats are circulated and there is an agreement for all PC reports to be completed and sent to the host school within 48 hours. PC colleagues make a judgement as to whether the school self-evaluation is accurate and also make a judgement about whether the school is improving or vulnerable. If a school is identified as being in need of additional support this is brokered by the Director of the HLP or if the school is deemed to be vulnerable then it may enter the LA School monitoring process.
Addressing areas of concern and improvement
If common issues emerge across a number of schools once all of the PC sessions across Hounslow have been completed, then a specific project will be established to develop areas of practice and address concerns over under performance. To date there have been two projects, one on Early Years and the outside environment and the other on developing a new assessment framework in light of the revised National Curriculum. These have now concluded and 2 new projects are being established, both as a result of feedback from the PC process. In September 2016 these will be led by colleagues in school and will cover provision for the more able pupils and effective work to close the gap for Pupil Premium pupils.
Identifying and promoting good practice
A directory of good practice is currently being developed for the HLP website. This will provide Headteachers and their schools access to information and ideas collated from the schools committed to the HLP. This will include the findings and learning form the communities of interest (see above), case studies of action based research and successful school improvement projects.
The work of the HLP is overseen by a board chaired by an Independent chair who provides challenge to schools and the LA. The Lead Member for Education, the Council’s Chief Executive, Executive Director for Children’s Housing and Adults’ services, Director for Education and Early Intervention, 6 Headteachers and a representative from the Local FE College along with 2 School Governor representatives are also on the board, which meets 4 times per year. The HLP sets an annual performance challenge in September every year in response to the current attainment and progress. The Board also receives a summary report on the outcomes from the peer challenges twice a year and an update on Schools that are in the LA monitoring process as well as progress reports on any specific projects that have been agreed by the Board. The Board has recently hosted a visit by the region’s Regional School’s Commissioner (RSC).
The HLP has a shared understanding of present attainment and progress and commission an annual performance score card. This is reviewed and monitored by the HLP board and shared with schools. This information is used to set the annual performance challenge and the themes for the PC process.