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Teaching hub claims DfE ‘favours larger trusts’

One of three teaching school hubs that has lost their designation claimed the government now favours larger trusts. 

The Department for Education last week announced successful applicants to become TSHs from September until August 2028.

Eighty-seven hubs were established in 2021, but applicants had to bid last year to continue when their funding runs out in August.

Hubs are “centres of excellence in professional development” led by schools and trusts.

The hubs cover geographical patches, offer training and development for teachers and play a role in delivering school-based initial teacher training, national professional qualifications and the early career framework.

Three of the original hubs lost out. Alpha Teaching School Hub (TSH), and its lead school Colchester County High School for Girls, has helped more than 200 schools across Babergh, Colchester, Ipswich and Tendring.

It lost out to Unity Schools Partnerships and its lead school Churchill Special Free School.

In a statement, Alpha TSH claimed this was “part of a rationalisation of provision, [with] larger trusts now taking the lead”.

It went on: “This appears to be part of a wider government strategy to reduce costs through economies of scale and streamline the processes of accountability.”

Bids ‘evaluated fairly’ says DfE

But the Department for Education said this was “categorically untrue”.

Each bid was “evaluated fairly based on criteria set out in the bidding documentation – the criteria did not include, nor was there any overriding objective of, either a consolidation of TSHs or a move to ensure hubs operate as a part of larger trusts”.

The “open competition” allowed “high-performing eligible institutions the opportunity to bid to deliver” a TSH.

Harris Federation’s Harris Academy Chobham was named TSH for Haringey, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, with the North East London Teaching School Hub, based at Walthamstow School for Girls, losing out. The outgoing hub declined to comment.

Star Academies’ Eden Boys’ School will replace the Ark Teaching School Hub for south Birmingham after its lead school Ark St Alban’s Academy was graded ‘requires improvement’ in February 2022.

TSHs must be rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

Ark said it was “awaiting an Ofsted reinspection”.

Amy McJennett, director of professional development at the trust, added: “Naturally, we are disappointed with the outcome, but obviously it will be business as usual for the rest of this academic year.”

The government’s hub model had replaced the previous network of 750 teaching schools and saved £25 million.

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