Dr Sam Baars, Eleanor Bernardes and Dr Alex Elwick
London schools outperform schools across the rest of England, but this has not always been the case. This research tries to show what London has done over the past two decades to secure its place at the top of the pack through a series of interviews with education professionals and stakeholders. Rather than typically ‘London factors’ such as gentrification or ethnicity, this research suggests that the lesson to be learnt from London is that strong leadership is needed across education for good results to be seen.
Unlike other research, ‘Lessons from London’ does find room for initiatives like London Challenge and Teach First in explaining the capital’s strong performance, but these are seen amongst a wider picture of effective, evidence-based policy and the political and stakeholder will to implement it. It is the ethos of the initiatives, the authors argue, rather than necessarily their results, that have led to improvements in London schools: creating professional working cultures in schools, and emphasising the need for accountability.
The research concludes with seven key lessons from the success of London's schools that could be applied throughout the UK and internationally:
- Ensure that policy is based on hard evidence of effectiveness.
- Maintain a sustained and consistent policy momentum for change over time.
- Use performance data systematically to make the case for change.
- Transform underperforming schools through well-managed, sector-led school improvement activities.
- Develop an effective 'middle tier' to support sector-led improvement activity.
- Ensure that teaching is a career of choice for talented and idealistic recruits.
- Apply pressure for change through allowing market entry to new providers of education services.
In listing research, EdCentral makes no judgment or recommendation as to its quality, validity or methodology and none should be inferred. Through peer ratings left by education practitioners, EdCentral’s aim is to support the development of a repository of shared knowledge and experience.
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