Reforming the School Support System in Wales: Evidence from High-performing Systems

Robert Smith, David Sims

01 September 2013

The way schools in Wales are supported on their improvement journey is changing. The role of the regional consortia has led to a radical re-shaping of the way school support services are delivered. Meanwhile, notions of schools working together to raise standards offer a means of harnessing the expertise that rests within the system in a way that can benefit all learners. In 2012 NFER undertook a rapid review of international evidence on how schools are supported in high-performing systems (What works in enabling school improvement? The role of the middle tier).

This paper considers the issues identified in NFER’s rapid review from the Welsh perspective, in order to inform discussions in local authorities and, more broadly, about the future direction of travel for the education system in Wales. It examines the essential ingredients that will enable schools to contribute their capacity and expertise to a system that relies on them to drive systemic improvement. It acknowledges that, in the context of 22 local authorities, it will be increasingly difficult for individual councils to retain responsibility for school improvement, and that this may require not only joint working, but also the separation of education services from the other functions of local education authorities. Local authorities may therefore need to identify a range of core functions where education policies genuinely need to be formed from a local perspective.

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