Comberton Village College: A Note from the Principal

One of the ‘Big New Ideas’ from the Coalition Government regarding education relates to ‘Teaching Schools’. This is the suggestion that some schools nationally should be designated with this title. The notion and the terminology are based on the model of ‘Teaching Hospitals’. Some schools are to be seen as beacons of good practice and should take the lead in the training and the professional development of the teaching profession.

 In truth, this big new idea is a further move along a direction of travel that has been taking place for some time. This is not entirely uncommon in educational policy: Academies were, of course, a Labour Party policy (even if many in the Labour Party did not like the policy). The philosophy behind Teaching Schools is that of ‘Schools leading Schools’. It is rooted in the belief that the expertise and the capacity to help all schools to improve lies within schools themselves. External experts and policy directives from on high are not the most powerful means by which to drive forward educational standards in our schools. The most powerful thing to do is to engage this school-based capacity and expertise and ensure that it is used for the benefit of all schools and for the effective training and development of all staff.

 CombertonVillage College has been asked to become one of the first Teaching Schools in the country. We are happy to do this. It fits with our belief in the philosophy of ‘by Schools, for Schools’. It also strongly fits with much of the work that we have been doing in recent years to work with other schools to secure mutual improvement and with work in the areas of training and professional development. The application was not difficult to complete: it was largely a matter of confirming how we already significantly work in the ways suggested.

 One important part about our approach is that we do not want to take on this role in isolation. In some ways, it would be a contradiction in terms to try to do so. We have thus sought from the outset to form a partnership with other secondary and primary schools in the area that are in a position to take on this work and meet the required criteria laid down by the Government. By doing this, we hope to be able to create a great deal of capacity to make a real difference in this role.

 In one sense, this can be seen as part of the enduring remit of theVillage College. If one community that we seek to serve is the educational community, then playing a role as a ‘Teaching School’ is seeking to be at the heart of that community. Henry Morris might have liked it.

Stephen Munday,CombertonVillageCollege

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