NAHT report sets out principles for effective school-to-school peer reviews
A new report from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has highlighted the importance of peer reviews between schools, arguing that they should be ‘at the core of school improvement.’
The report is the result of convening peer review programme providers including Challenge Partners, the Education Development Trust and Ambition Institute, an NAHT blog explains.
It was produced with the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), which checked references and collected additional evidence the group used when creating the nine principles for effective school-to-school peer review – which are:
1. Committed to better outcomes for all
A shared responsibility to establish improvement across all schools and not just one’s own, which includes the sharing of good practice set out in reviews. The desire for mutual gain is vital for success.
2. Action focused
Peer review is set up with the intention of acting as a result of the review, whether to get even better or address an issue. Peer reviews highlight strengths and weaknesses but are not a standalone activity – they must make up part of wider processes that offer sustained support for evidence-based improvement.
3. Rigorous and objective
The team should always be comprised of peer leaders with the professional distance to offer truly honest appraisal of where a school is in its journey, along with the experience to insightfully provide evidence.
4. Structured and robust
The approach used in reviews should be clearly structured so that the evidence garnered is impartial, defensible and action-focused, with actions owned by the school under review.
5. Expert and evidence led
Reviewers should receive training and support to become experts; their school performance assessments should be rooted in evidence, and so too should their suggestions about possible actions.
6. Done with, not to, the school
Peer review encourages more transparent and honest self-review. It should engage as much of the workforce as possible and always be reciprocated.
7. Open and trusted
The school being reviewed is able and willing to expose vulnerabilities, so that it is able to gain fresh perspective on the challenges it faces.
8. Builds deeper relationships
Peer reviews create abiding collaborative partnerships which over time can enable stronger and closer working in local clusters. There’s also a chance to share more broadly as part of a national improvement drive.
9. Commitment to continuous improvement
Peer review itself should be constantly under review and programme providers must have structures and processes in place to assess the effectiveness of the process, also committing to continuous improvement.
Nick Brook, NAHT’s deputy general secretary, commented: “Peer review could be the driving force of the school improvement system. Emerging evidence shows that schools can improve faster and more sustainably by working together.”
Is your school currently involved in peer reviews? If so, what benefits have you seen?