Transforming local education systems: A collaboration between Isos and the Education Development Trust

Why we are collaborating

The education system in England has undergone a profound transformation over the past six years. The Government’s white paper, Excellent Education Everywhere, sets out a range of further reforms for the next six years that seek to support the development of a mature self-improving education system in England. While the white paper has prompted a lively policy debate, we know that focusing on implementing these reforms and leading a smooth transition at local level will be vital to driving and sustaining high-quality education for all pupils.

In early 2015, Isos and the Education Development Trust (EDT) started discussing some of the opportunities and challenges facing local education systems with whom we were both working. We agreed that there was opportunity to develop an offer of support for local education systems, drawing on EDT’s track-record in developing peer review and Isos’ expertise in developing and implementing local education improvement strategies. As a result, Isos and EDT have begun collaborating on a range of specific projects to support local education systems to address the opportunities and challenges.

We felt forming a strategic partnership with EDT to work on specific projects was a good fit with Isos’ skills and expertise for three reasons: first, the credibility and track-record of EDT’s leadership, second, EDT’s expertise in developing peer review through their schools partnership programme, and, third, EDT’s strong values and moral purpose.

How we aim to support local education systems

From our national research and work with individual local education systems, we have a strong understanding of the ways in which the roles of local authorities, system leaders and schools have changed over the last six years, and the way in which local education systems have evolved. When Isos and EDT started discussing how we might work together, we found that we shared an analysis of the key opportunities and challenges facing local education systems. We found that, from the local systems with whom we have each been working, there were two core elements to the ways in which they were seeking to respond to these challenges: first, maintaining the “health”, effectiveness and coherence of local education systems as the role of local authorities in supporting school improvement changes, and, second, building the system leadership capacity and robust schools partnerships that will drive self-sustaining school improvement in the future. We felt that there was a good fit with the respective areas of expertise of both Isos and EDT, and we decided, therefore, to work in partnership on specific projects in which both of these two elements were present.


In late 2015, we brought together a range of leaders from local education systems for two regional seminars about transforming local education systems. These seminars were hugely valuable in enabling colleagues from different local systems to share ideas about how they were supporting the development of a self-improving education system in their local contexts, and have recently published a think-piece based on these discussions. The think-piece can be read here.

Through our partnership, we are currently working with a number of individual local education systems. We are, for example, supporting Essex to develop a robust county-wide model of peer review and to develop a schools-led self-improving system and we are working with the North West School Improvement Partnership Board to develop a strategic, regional approach to educational improvement. If you would like to find out more about our partnership and how we can help you, please contact us at