Tuesday, 25 January 2011

What can we learn from the Manchester Challenge?

'Schools learning together' was the name of a project that started in York and the ideas have been further developed in Manchester and Leeds...

"The knowledge and skills were here in local schools in abundance," says Professor Mel Ainscow  "But they weren't sufficiently moving around. The challenge was especially with 'hard-to-reach' urban pupils. That's where the difference had to be made."

This month's publication of the 2010 GCSE's shows an increase of 6% on average scores in 2009, and 11% since the Manchester City Challenge began in 2007. In Leeds the figures are even more impressive! Mel Ainscow's diagnosis is that we must encourage schools by "moving knowledge around" – creating "families of schools"; not families in the traditional, feeder/pyramid sense but schools from Oldham to Wigan grouped together in comparable groups. Mel Ainscow says: "We were looking at schools whose intake, size and other features had much in common, and seeing how one was doing well and another not. We were looking for the good things, naturally, and through this system, they were clear. It was a game-changer." The next step was what Ainscow calls "carefully brokered" school partnerships; collaborative, co-operative partnerships where schools share their best practice and strengths. Nothing new in the world!

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