What is LocalED?

LocalED is a pilot project to test new locality models for the English school system led by local authorities, combined authorities and school led partnerships.

The project began life as a report published in March 2021, following research sponsored by the Association of Education Committees (AEC) Trust and BELMAS, the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society.

A key finding of the research, which explored four leading international systems, was that – to borrow a phrase from educational researcher Michael Fullan – ‘Leadership from the Middle’ through locality-based governance and partnership working is key to building school systems that can deliver excellence and equity.

The updated literature review available here draws on the latest research confirms this analysis.

What are the pilots focusing on?

Following the final report in 2021 and subsequent interviews and consultation, which made several recommendations to strengthen the role played by locality-based partnerships, the AEC Trust launched LocalED focusing on pilots to explore three approaches:

Each pilot is running for 2 years, between April 2022 and July 2024, and a report on learning from the pilots will then be published.

Why a locality-based approach?

The infographic below ‘Why Locality Based Approaches Build Strong School Systems and support for vulnerable pupils’ picks out what schools, school led partnerships and local authorities identify as key reasons for the importance of locality working:

Image of how different elements of a locality model can fit together

One Year On

A note from Jonathan Crossley-Holland, Project Lead at LocalEd:

October 2023

Despite facing various challenges in the aftermath of Covid-19 and resource constraints, the Pilots have remained strongly committed to the Project. This has been evidenced by the external evaluation of Year 1 of the Pilots, led by Professor Toby Greany and Dr Susan Cousin from Nottingham University in October 2023.

These ambitious Pilots –  involving hundreds of schools, Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs), Local Authorities (LAs), and other agencies – are seeking to find answers to key challenges for the English school system.

This includes how best to support vulnerable pupils with a focus on persistent absence, what might be better models for school accountability, what role the increasingly important Combined Authorities can play in supporting school improvement and what are the strengths and weaknesses of locality working? 

The external evaluators have shared how much the Pilots have appreciated the support from Dame Christine Gilbert and the Isos Team but also the Pilots clear commitment to the two core principles underpinning locality working:

  1. Making it a collective responsibility to ensure children’s achievement in our communities.
  2. Demonstrating that collaboration, rather than competition, is the key to raising educational standards and promoting equity.

Looking ahead, Year 2 will be focused on implementation and finding answers to the questions posed.

We recently held an end-of-Year 1 conference at Coram Fields in London. Please visit our news page for more information on this. The event provided the Pilots with an opportunity to celebrate their progress, share experiences, and plan for Year 2.

For those interested in delving deeper into each case study, we have provided brief summaries from each of the Pilots, outlining their accomplishments in Year 1 and priorities for Year 2, which can be found on the respective Pilot pages

Click the evaluation tab or see the ‘reports and resources’ list below to access the independent external evaluation of Year 1, undertaken by Professor Toby Greany and Dr. Susan Cousin from Nottingham University. 

Further information

Latest news:

Pilot 2: North of Tyne’s Success Story
Blog: the importance of Combined Authorities
Teach First’s ‘Belonging Schools’ research
Celebrating Progress & Planning for Year 2

Reports and resources:

External evaluation: LocalEd’s Year 1 evaluation report
EDSK report: setting a new course for the state school system in England
2021 report: Developing a new Locality Model for English Schools
October 2022 Literature Review update
Stuck Schools research
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