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An In-Depth Look at Teaching School Hubs and ITT Efficacy

Recently, 800 schools across the UK had been recognised for their ability to support other schools to deliver education for countless pupils. They were known as ‘teaching schools’. Now, 87 of these have been promoted to the new status of ‘teaching school hubs’ - centres of excellence acting as the single point for support within an area.

teaching school hubs

This will replace the teaching schools programme and will help to deliver benefits such as:

So why the new focus on ITT and teaching school hubs? This blog will provide a detailed look at these new implementations from the Department for Education (DfE). 

The Teaching School Hub Program

The DfE created the teaching school hub programme as part of a campaign to raise the quality and efficiency of both teachers and school leaders, meaning all educators were better equipped and supported throughout their delivery of education.

This program will ensure teachers have access to high-quality professional development. Not only does this support improve the overall quality of teaching but it also increases retention rates and growth opportunities for teachers.

“It is important that teachers and school leaders feel supported in their career.”, said Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for School Standards. “The hubs will make this substantially easier, with expert practitioners able to give experienced advice to those schools able to benefit from it.”

“Ultimately, the quality of teaching is the most important factor in the attainment of pupils and in improving schools, hence the specific focus around teacher development,” stated Richard Gill, Chair of the Teaching Schools Council.

Where Are the Hubs?

Each hub is organised within groups of 200 to 300 schools, servicing those schools with support. To find a certain school’s hub, interested parties can download the list of teaching school hubs from the website page, then search ‘column A’ for the local authority district of a certain school. 

Those unsure about which local authority district a school resides in can search using the ‘location’ tab on the ‘Get information about schools’ webpage.

How Does a School Become a Teaching School Hub?

Schools can actually apply to become a teaching school hub, however, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Been rated good or outstanding in their most recent Ofsted inspection.
  • Have above average progress in two out of the last three years.

How Will Teaching School Hubs Affect ITT?

Teaching school hubs are being hailed as a promising way of enabling a quality-assured approach when facilitating ITT, which was harder to capture under the old teaching schools programme.

“There was huge growth in Teaching Schools”, stated Professor Rachel Lofthouse, from the Carnegie School of Education “Some were valiantly doing the work as prescribed by the DfE and doing it successfully – but it also created a system where it was quite hard to find what you needed."

“With this model, it reduces that right down to a regional hub and makes it far easier to locate the support you need.”

The hope is teaching school hubs reclaim the original vision behind the older programme, recognising the professional development of both teachers and school leaders as the most important and effective form of improvement for a school.

However, this move has also created concern regarding how effective it will be. Dr Karen Angus-Cole, from the Department of Education at the University of Bath, said “I do wonder if the nuance of context and setting will be lost – can a Hub school really understand the context of another school? It’s almost like adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.”

There are also concerns regarding:

  • Whether teaching school hubs will be able to service the number of schools they're responsible for.
  • Whether smaller schools will be forced into the dominance of larger multi-academy trusts (MATs).
  • Schools with individual Continuing Professional Development (CPD) frameworks may be wary of working with a teaching school hub.
  • Many of these teaching school hubs have special educational needs (there are only two special schools in the entire group).

"It will be essential that the DfE keeps a close eye on the extent to which SEND is woven into the work of the new Teaching School Hubs,” said Simon Knight, the joint headteacher of Frank Wise School, “to ensure that the good work done by the Special Teaching Schools and others is not lost amongst the incoming changes.”

Similarly, there have also been concerns about the relative exclusion of universities from the programme. “I worry about this idea that they [the TSHs] will deliver ITT,” said Dr Angus-Cole, a former teacher. “It’s not clear what the government is planning with ITT but there is a seemingly increased exclusion of universities from that provision and towards a more school-centred ITT,”

However, the rules of this new programme mean teaching school hubs can freely choose who they partner with for either CPD or ITT, which could mean universities continue to be centrally involved if a certain hub chooses them. 

Through these concerns, the overall attitude towards teaching school hubs is optimistic. The programme fully launches in September 2021 and has three years of funding, so the education community can identify how successful it is over that period.

That time can effectively discover how the education sector can improve professional development opportunities for teachers and retention rates across the board.