A Review of Challenge Partners’ Trust Peer Review Model

Louise Starks and Tami McCrone

16 March 2020

In 2018, Challenge Partners began a pilot to test whether a Trust Peer Review could accelerate the development of school improvement capability in the host trust, while providing CPD, insight and ideas for peer reviewers, which would benefit their own trusts. They also hope to use the reviews to contribute to the (currently limited) evidence base of what works in multi-school improvement. Trust Peer Reviews seek to evaluate the trust’s effectiveness in driving improvement in its schools and outcomes for the children and young people it serves.

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) co-funded a review of the Challenge Partners Trust Peer Review (TPR) pilot which was developed and trialled by Challenge Partners across four Trusts during 2018 and 2019.

The aims of this study were to:

  • support Challenge Partners in developing a peer review model that is demonstrably improving the performance of school trusts
  • identify how effective the model is in providing continuous professional development (CPD) opportunities for peer reviewers that in turn, supports improvements in their own trust
  • ensure the peer review model contributes to an understanding of what makes for an effective trust school improvement model.

This small study was conducted through 24 qualitative interviews with those involved in the pilot.

Key Findings

  • Key stakeholders valued the approach and recognised its unique benefits for their trust and for individual CPD
  • Timing of a review, capacity to engage and affordability both featured when considering future involvement in a Trust Peer Review
  • Schools understood the review was about evidencing the value of the trust and how it supports school improvement
  • Further clarity on how the review would work, including areas of focus on the day(s) would help stakeholders to prepare for the review.