Below are a set of frequently asked questions. Please feel free to comment by email to [email protected].

If you have questions which do not appear on here, please direct them to the same email address.  We will update this list regularly.

What is THE Partnership?

The Partnership is a new, not-for-profit company owned by its member schools in Tower Hamlets. It provides a vehicle for building on, supporting, developing and extending the successful collaboration that has characterised education in Tower Hamlets over the last decades. It aims to maintain and enhance high-quality, purposeful partnership working to help schools to improve continuously and achieve the best educational outcomes for the children and young people in the local area.

Who is in THE Partnership?

THE Partnership is a not-for-profit company’, 100% owned by its member schools. An interim Board of Directors, chaired by Christine Gilbert CBE, provides strategic guidance for THE Partnership and holds the executive management of THE Partnership to account.  The Executive Director of THE Partnership leads the day-to-day operation of THE Partnership’s services and management of its staff. An Interim Advisory Council, consisting of elected representatives of member schools, meets at least once per term to review, discuss and challenge the performance and strategic direction of THE Partnership and is represented by its chair on the Board.  The Interim Advisory Council is developing a final structure and composition such that the Advisory Council will be in place by March 2017.

How will Heads’ and Governors’ voices be heard?

The key representative body for Heads and Governors of member schools will be the Advisory Council. This council will be elected by THE Partnership member schools and will meet regularly with the Board of Directors. In addition, existing governors’ and headteachers’ forums will continue, and both member and non-member schools will be able feed their views into the Advisory Council through these forums

Is THE Partnership taking over all of Tower Hamlets’ current work with schools?

At the moment THE Partnership is being commissioned by the Council only to deliver its school improvement services. THE Partnership will therefore have a role with all Tower Hamlets schools, not just those that are its members. However, THE Partnership intends to build on this role and develop a range of innovative new services for our schools. The proposed changes to the National Funding Formula make it clear that the shift away from local authority-led to schools-led services will continue and accelerate, and THE Partnership will therefore explore from the beginning the potential for reviewing and possibly reconfiguring some of the Council’s existing schools-focused traded and de-delegated services.

So who exactly will be doing what from September 2016?

The Local Authority’s current School Improvement Team will continue to fulfil its current commitments. THE Partnership’s Executive Team will work with that School Improvement Team over the coming months to develop these current commitments into an innovative and sustainable model of school improvement practice to be delivered through THE Partnership from April 2017.

I have already signed up for an SLA with the Tower Hamlets School Improvement team for 2016/17.  What will happen to this commitment?

This will be fulfilled, by the Local Authority’s current School Improvement Team.

Will THE Partnership be an academy sponsor?

Not at first. THE Partnership will not itself be a MAT but, since the government has stated that it will encourage all schools to eventually be academies, a close working relationship between THE Partnership and academy trusts will clearly be essential;. THE Partnership will be well-placed to advise and support local schools through the conversion process – and, if desired, could potentially act as a ‘sponsor’ helping to identify and create suitable MATs for local schools to join.

How will all this affect consortia, teaching schools, academy chains etc.?

Existing arrangements will remain in place.  THE Partnership intends to work closely with existing effective consortia and alliances to ensure that all schools receive the best possible service and support.

How much money will all this cost and where is it coming from?

The Council is providing seed funding and in-kind funding for the first three years of THE Partnership’s operation. Income will also come from traded services. Member schools will be expected to pay a membership fee of £5 per pupil, to be reviewed annually, from April 2017.

What will member schools get for their money?

Full member schools will be able participate in a range of school improvement and development programmes and activities organised by THE Partnership. They will also have voting rights at general meetings of THE Partnership. An illustration of the kinds of improvement and development support that member schools might expect can be found in THE Partnership Prospectus and The Membership Offer brochure.

What role will peer review play?

Peer review will be central to THE Partnership’s improvement and development work. It is a powerful way of raising aspirations and driving professional accountability. All member schools will be encouraged to participate in a process of peer review which is invariably a very positive development experience, both for the individuals taking part and the schools themselves. The peer review process will promote and stimulate innovation and school-to-school projects, and it will provide ‘critical friend’ challenge to drive continuous improvement and avoid coasting and complacency. The peer review process will be quality assured to ensure consistency, fairness, challenge and continuous improvement, and THE Partnership intends to ‘grow’ and develop peer review and challenge as an improvement tool. See also, THE Partnership Prospectus

What will happen if my school is placed in an Ofsted category and is forced to become an academy?  What role will THE Partnership play?

Member schools finding themselves in this position will be intensively supported by THE Partnership School Improvement Team. We will liaise with you, your governors and the DfE to develop a strong plan to assist you in rapidly improving in the areas identified.

My school is a PFI school.  Will this change under THE Partnership?

No.  Nothing will change with respect to your PFI status.

My school has been identified as a school causing concern (SCC).  I am already working with the LA to address this.  What will change if I become a THE Partnership member?

THE Partnership is being commissioned by the Local Authority to deliver its school improvement services and so the work that you are currently engaged in will continue via THE Partnership. As a member of THE Partnership you will receive the support needed to ensure that you have the capacity to improve rapidly and are fully prepared for your next inspection.

Both the Prospectus and the Arrangements for THE Partnership Membership and Governance suggest that whilst it will not act directly as an academy trust itself, THE Partnership might set up a separate legal entity to act as a new trust vehicle.  How would that work?

This is a matter that will be considered further by the membership and Board of THE Partnership in the coming months. A possible approach to the suggestion can be found in the paper entitled THE Partnership and Academy Governance, which is on our website www.the-partnership.org.uk