Evaluation of Tranche 2 of the Lead and Emerging Practitioner School Pathfinder Project

National Foundation for Educational Research

16 March 2016

Research report on the Welsh government website

This report presents the findings from an evaluation carried out by NFER to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of Tranche 2 of the Lead and Emerging Practitioner School Pathfinder Project. The study comprised a review of school Partnership Plans and two case-study visits to each of the 20 participating schools. During these visits we interviewed senior and middle leaders and classroom teachers in both the Lead and Emerging Practitioner Schools.

Key Findings

  • Most interviewees reported that the Pathfinder model of organising and facilitating school-to-school improvement had been effective in supporting and accelerating improvement in the participating schools.
  • The partnerships had focused on work to enhance the quality of teaching and learning; to strengthen school leadership at both the senior and middle level; and to increase the use of data and assessment outcomes both in order to achieve greater consistency across schools and to maximise the use of assessment data to support teaching and learning. Respondents believed that these different strands of activities had encouraged reflective practice.
  • The consistency of the high-quality and effective nature of the relationships between staff in the two schools appeared to have improved since Tranche 1. We attribute this improvement to improvements in the school matching, recruitment and briefing process, and to the ‘emotional intelligence’ shown by senior leaders who used this to guide their thinking and behaviour.
  • The report concludes by presenting six recommendations for the future development of school-to-school partnership working in Wales. This includes the recommendation that there is a coordinated strategy for school improvement based on a tiered approach that responds to the different level of need shown by schools in Wales.