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Promoting Quality in Teacher Education

Teaching School Hubs (February 2020)


Letter from Paul Cohen (DfE) on the new system leadership reforms, including information on the new 6 teaching school hubs.

25 February 2020


Dear Colleague,

I am writing to you to advise you of announcements which the Government has made today concerning the future of system leadership.

As you will be aware, the Department set out its plans to carry out a wholesale review of the role of Teaching Schools (TS) and of existing system leader designations in the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy (January 2019). We subsequently announced in May 2019 that we would launch a test and learn phase of new Teaching School Hubs (TSH) with the intention to roll-out nationally in 2020/21. Following a competitive process, the first 6 Hubs were announced in January. In parallel, the Department has been undertaking a review of National Leaders of Education (NLEs), aided by a panel of experienced practitioners.

Teaching Schools and Teaching School Hubs

We have announced today that we are beginning the first stage of the national roll-out of TSH. This will involve discussions with schools that are eligible to be designated as TSH. Eligibility criteria, which are largely unchanged from the test and learn phase, are attached. An announcement on a firm timetable and details of the designation process will follow later this year; however, I expect that designations will happen in the first part of the academic year 2020/21.

The Department recognises the valuable work which TS do, covering school-to-school support, continuing professional development and initial teacher training. We also recognise that you need as much notice as possible of our intentions so that you can have adequate time for planning. I am, therefore, confirming today that the funding rates for TS applying in the current academic year will apply also for the whole of the academic year 2020/21. I trust that this will provide you with the confidence to continue with your plans for the whole of the next academic year. We anticipate, however, that this will be the final year of funding for TS, and that existing TS designations will end in August 2021.

I recognise that for those of you who lead TS this announcement means a significant change. Since the TS programme was launched in 2011, many TS have established themselves as valued partners for schools, local authorities, dioceses and multi-academy trusts (MATs) which buy their services in order to help to raise standards in local schools and other settings. Those well-established local arrangements can, of course, continue and develop through these changes and beyond. In advance of today’s announcement, we have liaised with the Teaching Schools Council, and I know that the Council, under the leadership of Richard Gill, will be offering support and advice to TS about today’s announcement.

National Leaders of Education

The Department has, today, also published a review report on NLEs which we commissioned last year. The report from an external review panel, chaired by Ian Bauckham CBE, CEO, the Tenax Schools Trust, has been accepted in full by Ministers.

At the report’s heart is a recognition that peer-to-peer support from highly effective school leaders is an immensely powerful tool for school improvement. In accepting the group’s report and recommendations, Ministers are renewing their commitment to the work of NLEs and signalling their intention to invest more in them.

Reform to the present arrangements alongside new investment in the programme will take time. We will shortly be launching an exercise to select a professional body to partner with the Department to take this work forward. In the meantime, I want to thank all NLEs for the valuable work they do and to encourage you to continue that work.

National Leaders of Governance

As part of our reform of system leadership, we have also announced today that we are reviewing the existing National Leaders of Governance (NLG) programme, to ensure that it is as effective and impactful as possible. We have appointed an expert group to provide advice to the department and anticipate publishing their recommendations this summer.

If you have any questions about this letter, please email system.leaders@education.gov.uk

Kind regards,

Paul Cohen

Deputy Director

School Improvement & System Leadership


We are looking for the best schools in the system to become TSH. To be eligible to submit an application, your school should meet the following criteria, which are in line with those used in the test and learn phase:


KS2 Schools

KS4 Schools


The applicant school is rated Outstanding at its latest Ofsted inspection.

Schools only have to meet the criteria for the relevant key stage(s) of their phase of education to be eligible. All through schools covering primary and secondary are only required to pass either primary school criteria or secondary school criteria to be eligible. Schools without performance data (e.g. special schools, Early Years, Alternative Provision settings) are able to apply if they can demonstrate that they are a high performing school, who are regarded as the best leaders in their sector. Those wishing to apply under these circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis.

In general, where more than one eligible school applies to become the TSH for the same area, we will designate the school with the higher Progress score. Written applications will be considered where the difference between progress scores is minimal.