The Development of a School Led System of Self Improvement in Central South Wales

Article written by Sian Johnson, Marketing and Communications Manager, Central South Consortium

The Central South Consortium was established in 2012 to provide challenge and support to the 400+ schools in the regions of Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Research proves that the most effective method of school improvement is via a system of school led improvement. In order to provide the schools in the region with a mechanism to achieve school led improvement the Consortium launched the Central South Wales Challenge (CSW).

Established in January 2014, the CSW Challenge has placed all schools into school improvement groups (SIGs). Each SIG has been deliberately constructed to bring together schools that may not have previously worked together. For example a SIG could consist of a mixture of faith schools, Welsh medium schools, primary schools and special schools, all from different local authorities.

The SIG network provides schools with the ability to share information about all aspects of their school. How the SIG chooses to manage the sharing of information is their decision and is driven by the very specific needs of the schools in each SIG. For example a SIG may decide to focus their work upon improving literacy; as a result the SIG may then undertake a visit to a school that has excellent practice in literacy so they can learn from and adapt this practice for their own schools.

In addition to the support provided to schools via the SIGs, the Consortium has established a network of Hub Schools. A Hub School is a school that has been identified by the Consortium as having excellent practice in a particular area. As a result the school is then able to provide training and support to other schools in the region. Hub Schools offer a number of programmes focusing upon different strategic areas, including literacy, numeracy, leadership, learning and teaching, closing the gap and curriculum specific.

A key aspect of self-improvement in Central South Wales schools is the development of Peer Enquiries; a system that sees headteachers in the region visiting each other’s schools to undertake an ‘enquiry-led’ review of the school. The review is undertaken in a supportive environment and both the ‘enquiring’ and ‘reviewing’ schools have been proven to benefit from the process.

To find out more about the school led system of improvement in Central South Wales please refer to the CSC website

Questions governors might want to ask about school-to-school working

  • What processes does the school have in place to develop teachers and future leaders?
  • What partnerships are the school part of and what impact does it have?
  • What opportunities are there for the headteacher and senior leaders to work with other schools, for their own development – and what plans would need to be put in place to make sure there’s sufficient capacity and succession planning in place to allow this to happen?

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