Learn Sheffield Joins Educating for the Future Pilot

Published: 31 May 2022
Learn Sheffield is delighted to be part of a national pilot project funded by AEC. 'Educating for the future: developing new locality models for English schools' is launched today. Pilot 3 (Towards a new model of professional accountability) will run across the next two years.

There is some brief information about the 9 Pilot Projects below including our Pilot. You can gain more information from the dedicated website https://localed2025.org.uk. We have already had a really good discussion with the other Pilot leads and I am confident that we are going to learn a lot faster by working together. Our next step is going to be to work with you and the team to draw up our aims and objectives for the Pilot.


Background to the Pilot                        

The AEC Trust (1) and BELMAS (2) sponsored research on ‘Developing New Locality Models for English Schools’ which was published in March 2021 – you can find the final report here.  A key finding of the research, drawing on four leading international systems, was that in Michael Fullan’s words ‘Leadership from the Middle’ through locality-based governance and partnership working is key to building school systems that can deliver excellence and a be successful with children who are vulnerable or facing disadvantage.

As a result of the very positive response to the research the AEC decided to support 9 Pilots drawing in LAs and School Led Partnerships from across the country to test out new locality models for three key functions for an effective school system. They are and the pilot areas selected:

  • Pilot 1 – Support for Vulnerable Young People. Pilots: Wakefield, Wiltshire, Coventry, and Rochdale. All led by LAs. These pilots will provide the opportunity to rethink how we understand “vulnerability”, which pupils are identified as being vulnerable to missing out on education, and the factors that make them vulnerable. This will be done as a means of fostering an overarching locality approach to providing more joined-up, better targeted, and more effective support.


  • Pilot 2 – Exploring the potential of working across Combined or Sub-Regional Authorities as the basis for supporting the improvement of all schools. Pilot North of Tyne Combined Authority. The pilot will test the pros and cons of developing school improvement services across a combined authority, including the benefits of scale and of linking with other combined authority functions such as skills development.


  • Pilot 3 – Towards a new model of professional accountability. Pilots: Ealing, Sheffield, Surrey and Milton Keynes. They are all overseen by school-led partnerships. The pilot will seek to develop a new approach to accountability that is rigorous but less high stakes than the current model. We want it to support professionalism in schools, teacher development and school improvement so children are well supported in their learning. We want it also to provide good information for parents as well as enabling the local partnership to understand common needs and priorities better.


Twelve percent of LAs and School Led Partnerships bid to take part in the pilots. There were many strong bids. The selection of the successful bids was influenced, particularly by the strength of the local partnerships, working across SATs, MATs and maintained schools, by their ambition to try new models and by a wish to pilot in a variety of context, counties, cities, and small local partnerships.



The pilots will run for two years from April 2022 until April 2024 and a final report on learning from the pilots will be published in June 2024.


Project Support

The Pilots will receive support throughout the Project from Isos Partnership www.isospartnership.comindividually and as a group to ensure they can learn from each other. In addition, our Pilot 3 will have lead support from Christine Gilbert CBE, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at OFSTED (2006-2011). Nottingham University will independently evaluate the Pilots. The Project has a website https://localed2025.org.uk to support the Pilots and contains more details about the questions that the pilots are seeking to evaluate. Jonathan Crossley-Holland former DCS, is the Project Manager.

A Steering Group has a key role in the development of the project in advising on the policies and pilot selection, on monitoring the progress of the pilots, and helping to publicize the work of the Pilots and the findings. The members of the Steering Group are:

Paul Whiteman (NAHT), Julie McCulloch (ASCL), Kirston Nelson (ADCS), Emma Knights (NGA), Ian Keating (LGA), John Jolly (Parentkind), Shaun Brown (The Difference), Dame Sue John (Challenge Partners), Alan Parker (AEC Trust).



1 - Association of Education Committees: AEC Trust. The AEC is a charity that supports educational initiatives for children. It was originally set up to manage the employment legacy issues from the Association of Education Committees which was wound up in 1978.

2 - British Educational Leadership, Management &Administration Society BELMAS funds educational research

Return to Articles