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NW24 Teaching and Learning Partnership

NW24 Teaching and Learning Partnership is a network of schools in Bristol collaborating to ensure the delivery of the highest possible quality of education for all pupils.

All of the schools in NW24 are located to the North and West of Bristol city centre – from Stoke Bishop across to Bishop Road, and from Hotwells up to Westbury-On-Trym. Headteachers and other staff in these schools have been working together in one way or another for many years, but from September 2015 they have signed up to a formal agreement to drive improvement in all the member schools by working ever more closely together.

NW24 includes Infant, Junior, Primary, Secondary and Special Schools. It includes Bristol Local Authority maintained schools, standalone academies, sponsored academies and Free Schools. The diversity of the membership is one of the biggest strengths of the Partnership. Heads, Governors and Business Managers have all made a commitment to strengthening the links between schools for the benefit of the children and families we serve. Teachers, learning support teams, pastoral support workers and administrative staff can all benefit from the opportunities that this collaboration brings.

If your school is a member of NW24, then you are part of a partnership which aims to improve outcomes for children, to deliver high quality professional development for staff, and to represent the interests of its members in policy decisions at local, regional and national level.

Members

Bishop Road Primary School Horfield CE Primary School
Bristol Cathedral Primary School Hotwells Primary School
Bristol Free School (Secondary) Redland Green School (Secondary)
Christchurch CE Primary School St Bonaventure’s RC Primary School
Claremont Special School (Primary and Secondary) St John’s CE Primary School
Colston’s Primary School St Michael On The Mount CE Primary School
Cotham School (Secondary) SS Peter and Paul RC Primary School
Elmlea Infant School Stoke Bishop CE Primary School
Elmlea Junior School Westbury-On-Trym CE Primary School
Henleaze Infant School Westbury Park Primary School
Henleaze Junior School

 

NW24 – the background

NW24 Teaching and Learning Partnership is a network of schools in Bristol collaborating to ensure the delivery of the highest possible quality of education for all pupils.

The Partnership has been formed by the member schools in response to developments in the education landscape in recent years. Resources of Local Authorities have diminished and the diversity of school types has increased, but as school leaders, our obligation to the children of Bristol is the same, regardless of how we are funded or governed.

The introduction of the Regional Schools Commissioners posts in 2014 represented a substantial change in the way schools are held accountable to central government. The RSC’s remit is to scrutinise the performance of academies, and, where there is cause for concern, to intervene by imposing new sponsors. In effect, the RSC has the power to force academies to join together either in new multi-academy trusts (MATs) led by “Outstanding” sponsor schools, or by joining existing multi-academy chains. Whilst it is still technically possible for a good or outstanding school to choose to become and academy, the RSC for the South West has made it very clear that he does not think this is a feasible option for any school smaller than a 3 form entry primary school, and even then, his preferred model is for MATs. Since government policy is to recommend academy conversion to any local authority maintained schools judged less then “Good” by OFSTED, these schools are also within the RSC’s brief.

Initially, the leaders of the standalone academies in the North West region of Bristol, of which there are 10, recognised this as a potential threat to their autonomy. Governors, Headteachers and Business Managers began a conversation about MATs and alternative structures, and concluded that the established North 3 Cluster already provided the basis of an excellent model for school-to-school support and improvement. They also recognised that all of the schools in North 3 would benefit from a strengthened commitment to partnership working.

Research into collaborative school structures established some core principles which resulted in the current format:

  • The size of the group needs to be limited: networks that have become too large have lost the personal connection that enables meaningful dialogue to take place. Geographical location is the determiner of eligibility for membership. All schools are within easy travelling distance.
  • All members need to be committed as active partners: everyone has something to give, and everyone benefits from support. A Memorandum of Understanding, signed by Chair of Governors, Head and Business Manager, describes the objectives of the partnership and the expectations of each school. Schools are asked to renew this commitment annually.
  • Members agree to pay an annual subscription: the commitment of funds represents confidence in the partnership, and means that the partnership is obliged to demonstrate value. It also means that the partnership has funds to support delivery of its objectives.
  • The primary purpose of the partnership has to be school improvement, resulting in improved outcomes for children.

NW24 is NOT:

  • a single legal entity for the purposes of funding or accountability (ie a MAT)
  • a Teaching School Alliance

However, it delivers to its members many of the perceived benefits of a multi-academy trust and addresses the objectives required of Teaching Schools.

Belonging to NW24 means:

  • Equity of opportunity for all children regardless of where they live and which school they attend.
  • A professional learning community that extends beyond the individual schools.
  • An agreement to share information, data and expertise.
  • Opportunities to make school budgets go further.
  • A voice in policy making at local and national level.
  • Protection against unwelcome external pressures.
  • Support in times of need.
  • Being at the forefront of a new generation of school-led teaching and learning networks.

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