In this pilot we are working with local areas to explore approaches to developing an accountability system that demonstrates what stronger professional accountability looks like in action.

Aiming for a system that is rigorous and less ‘high stakes’ than the current model, the pilot seeks to operate at the level of the individual teacher, the individual school, and across networks of schools, while also being considered a key part of the national system. The range of accountabilities may include areas which impact upon the school, Trust or network of schools but involve other partners; for example support for vulnerable pupils.

In developing our work in this pilot, we will draw on learning from relevant international jurisdictions.

How will this pilot work?

In this pilot, we are working collaboratively with a small number of schools and academy trusts (from all phases), along with the local education partnership (if there is one), and local authorities to:

  1. Explore how to pilot different approaches to school accountability
  2. Develop processes such as self-evaluation, peer review, appraisal, and school report cards
  3. Use a range of indicators that give a fuller picture of the school and its achievements than is possible in current public accountability frameworks
  4. Understand how these approaches might support teachers and schools to develop, provide excellent information for parents, and enable local areas to understand common needs and priorities

We will be taking locality approaches that:

  • Establish stronger systems of professional accountability operating within and across schools and academy trusts in the locality
  • Encourage teachers to feel part of a learning community, at school level and locally, that offers opportunities for professional aspiration and development
  • Use a range of data, evidence, and observation to support organisational improvement, particularly in relation to teaching and learning
  • Capture the benefits and difficulties of within-school and across-school collaboration, through peer learning
  • Enable local partnerships to work collaboratively with schools to support their development
  • Pilot approaches that can be credibly scaled up across a wider number of schools
  • Test and cost the oversight and capacity needed to facilitate and co-ordinate the new model locally

Key questions explored by this pilot

  • How can teachers and schools, with support from their local partnership or local authority, manage their own quality control and continuing improvement better?
  • How can we encourage an open and trusting analysis that includes dialogue about things not working well and use this to learn and develop professionally?
  • How can schools become supported to become more enquiring and evidence-informed?
  • How can professionalism be developed through peer review and peer learning?
  • How could pilot approaches provide greater depth, breadth, and frequency of information?
  • How can we continue to provide clear information for parents and communities?
  • How could local areas utilise information to identify improvement priorities, leading to a wider range of opportunities to support school improvement?
  • How do we best pilot approaches with maintained schools and academies in trusts?
  • How can we quality assure the pilot approaches and the accuracy of reporting?
  • How can we provide confidence that new approaches will be at least as rigorous as current models?
  • Are there any structural, legislative, or regulatory frameworks that create obstacles to achieving the pilot objectives? If so, what can central government do to remove those obstacles?

Six month reports

After the first six-months of this project each of the organisations involved is in the process of submitting a summary of progress made so far. You can these summaries here.

Year 1 reports

One year into the Project, each of the organisations involved in Pilot 3 presented their lessons learned from the first year and their objectives for Year 2. The presentations can all be found here:




Milton Keynes

Pilot 3 participants

  1. Surrey Schools Alliance for Excellence, Lead contact: Maria Dawes
  2. Ealing Ealing Learning Partnership, Lead contact: Julie Lewis
  3. Sheffield Learn Sheffield, Lead contact: Jean Watt
  4. Milton Keynes. Education Partnership, Lead contact: Jo-Anne Hoarty, Headteacher

“This is an exciting opportunity to look beyond the constraints of the current top-down accountability systems. Working together and building on our strengths we have a chance to create a vehicle for a lateral model of accountability reform that is ambitious, inclusive, locality-led and supports continuous improvement to build an education system that is better for all.”

Maria Dawes, CEO, Schools Alliance for Excellence (Surrey)

“As a learning partnership, we have placed high value on setting up collaborative systems of learning underpinned by high challenge, low threat peer learning models. We want to use this opportunity to connect our headteachers and schools with other regions that have invested in similar approaches to help rebuild the confidence of the profession. As a learning organisation, we want to test and apply ways of working that re-invest in teachers’ intellectual capital, promote authentic self-evaluation and collective teacher efficacy to transform children’s learning.”

Julie Lewis, Director – Learning, Standards and School Partnerships, Ealing Learning Partnership

“Learn Sheffield is excited to be part of the LocalED pilot as we are keen to further strengthen our professional accountability system so that it moves away from ‘proving’ to ‘improving’ within our school-led partnership model.”

Jean Watt, Director of School Improvement, Learn Sheffield

We are excited about how being involved in this locality pilot will enable us to become more enquiring and evidence-informed in our approach to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for all children and young people across Milton Keynes. It will empower our teachers and schools through collaborative approaches to professional learning, educational improvement and accountability.”

David Balderstone, Partnership Manager, Milton Keynes Education Partnership

Further information

Read our blog post by Christine Gilbert, Visiting Professor, UCL Institute of Education, and LocalED Adviser, Pilot 3, and Simon Rea, Director of the Isos Partnership. The post examines why we are focusing on this area, what we are seeking to test and next steps.