Post by Alastair Delaney, Strategic Director, Education Scotland
We have just published an interim report into the School Improvement Partnership Programme (SIPP). This is a new approach we are adopting in Scotland with a focus on innovating to tackle educational inequality. It draws on the wealth of international educational research and practice that demonstrates the most effective school improvements are locally owned and led by teachers and school leaders working in partnership and collaboration with like-minded professionals.
The partnerships vary in size and now cover 14 authorities and involve 15 primary schools, 18 secondary schools and two high school learning communities.
These partnerships are focusing on specific challenges and issues, learning from each other through collaborative enquiry and trying new approaches in their own settings as a result. Research evidence indicates that well supported partnerships can lead to significant and sustained improvement and ultimately raised achievement. In developing this programme we are working with the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change of Glasgow University and are supported by a reference group involving representatives of ADES, COSLA, AHDS, SLS, EIS and Scottish Government.
A key feature of the SIPP is the research and evaluation support being provided by researchers from the Robert Owen Centre. The report they have just prepared provides a summary of progress to date across all the partnerships engaged with the programme. The report notes that whilst there have been some challenges around timing and coordination between all relevant parties, these imaginative and creative partnership teams are devising diverse and complex collaborative networks and programmes to tackle inequality in education across Scotland.
The report identifies partnerships which are becoming established and putting in place interventions that have proved successful elsewhere. These partnerships are creating networks that are helping professional learning amongst teachers and increasing their confidence in using a variety of teaching strategies to help address these issues.
We will continue to support these partnerships along with our colleagues in the Robert Owen Centre and with the various education authorities. In the coming months we will be carrying out further evaluation, running further seminars and sessions which will allow partners to share their experiences so far and to learn from each other and build on this. Further to this we have some more partnerships due to start working together soon. Although early days for the programme, there are encouraging signs of exciting emerging practice in this work and I am confident the SIPP could have a real impact on closing the attainment gap.
This programme is a really good example of collaboration, using international research findings and applying them to Scotland, building the capacity of our teaching workforce, and trying out new approaches and evaluating them to help Scottish education improve.