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Insight 16/12/2018

Education services in Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire County is the fourth largest county in England and is rural and mostly sparsely populated. In 2000, a report by the Office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, in conjunction with the Audit Commission, found an unacceptably high proportion of schools in Lincolnshire had identified weaknesses and a high level of underachievement.

The challenge

In response, the authority with responsibility for schools, Lincolnshire County Council, took firm action to transform the following four key areas: high impact teaching and professional development; monitoring and challenging schools to perform better; support for the provision and use of data by schools; and support to improve school management.

Education Development Trust has managed a wide variety of school improvement services on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council since 2002, including Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Services; Early Years (from birth to five years old); Careers Education for students aged 14-19; Admissions; Exclusions; and Educational Welfare Services across Lincolnshire. Our provision of education services in Lincolnshire and adjacent counties includes:

  • School improvement services including: interventions to coasting and underperforming schools; teaching and learning; self-evaluation; and other professional development support.
  • A menu of additional services for direct purchase by schools including: professional development opportunities, courses and training.
  • Early Years and Children Centres learning opportunities for pre-school children and families.
  • Teacher Training: initial teacher training as well as support for Newly Qualified Teachers.

Our approach

Because of our proven expertise in schools improvement spanning individual school support up to support for national education policy, Lincolnshire School Improvement Service was outsourced to Education Development Trust (then CfBT Education Trust) in 2002. To drive school improvement, we deliver the Lincolnshire School Improvement Service on behalf of the County Council and in collaboration with 373 schools across the county and the surrounding areas.

Working in collaborative partnership with schools, other settings, the County Council, and government agencies is fundamental to our success in establishing sector-led school improvement and bringing transformational change in the local education system. Our evidence-based approach is tailored to work in Lincolnshire to meet the specific needs of both urban and rural schools county-wide.

We are working closely with the council to establish a model that is best for Lincolnshire, actively engaging with head teachers, the local authority and with Teaching Schools to develop sector-led models of school improvement. Our product, the Schools Partnership Programme has been adopted as an effective framework for peer review that sits at the heart of school-to-school support.

Evaluating and monitoring progress at all levels, we work closely with practitioners to collect and update expert knowledge held locally to identify areas of excellence and areas where further professional development is needed, and target resources appropriately.

In practice-based development, guidance, advice, feedback and training underpins a continuous review cycle to ensure rigorous performance management. Hand in hand with this is our accredited training across a range of topics to support professional development, from subject specific, to inclusion, to managing teams. We also provide Initial Teacher Training (ITT) as part of our commitment to recruit outstanding teachers to maintaining and raising standards.

All our Lincolnshire staff are credible practitioners themselves and either work, or have worked, as senior leaders or head teachers so they understand the needs of the schools they work with. Where appropriate, they are also often embedded in the County Council, so they understand of specific needs of the local context, such as small and remote rural primary schools, and have designed our provision to suit the wide range of needs in Lincolnshire.

Our impact

A key measure of impact are GCSE results at 16 and the percentage of students achieving the equivalent of five or more good GCSEs (A*-C grade), including English and Maths, has seen a year-on-year improvement rate. Lincolnshire is also now well above the national average for the threshold measure of students obtaining the equivalent of five or more good GCSEs in any subject (79.9% in 2010, 75.7% nationally).

We have supported schools in preparing for and responding to Ofsted Inspections, with advice on changes policy developments and the Ofsted framework, and the improvement in grades given by Ofsted school inspectors is also an indicator of our success. With our support, Lincolnshire council was in the top 34% in England in 2014, with 86% of schools rated Good or Outstanding, (up from 81% in 2013).

Our Early Years Contract (April 2013-March 2016) has been subject to three separate Children's Centre Ofsted Inspections and all received 'good' outcomes. Lincolnshire County Council has recorded our provision as ‘very strong’.

Education Development Trust’s work in Lincolnshire was referenced in the 2010 UK government White Paper as a leading example of good practice in local school support provision. We were also named School Improvement Service of the Year 2012 at the Education Investor Awards.

We have also facilitated strategic discussions at a regional level, working closely with the Council and head teachers to fully embed the new model by the end of the contract. We continue to support the Council as it grapples with far reaching financial imperatives and builds a sustainable model of school improvement, where schools and academies take much greater collective ownership of outcomes. Through proactive dialogue, we are confident we will enable the County Council to fulfil its statutory and moral duties: to monitor and challenge performance in all schools to ensure the best outcomes for students.