Case study

Hub Spotlight: Portsmouth Hub

The Portsmouth Hub was established in 2014 and grew out of the Portsmouth Teaching School Alliance, led by Alison Beane OBE, NLE (Executive Director, Solent Academies Trust) and Sophie Venables (Director, Portsmouth Teaching School Alliance).

The hub recognises that, by working together through Challenge Partners’ Network of Excellence, we can share our collective learning and make the step change that is needed to improve standards, accelerate the progress of pupils and support system-wide improvements. The hub is very much a partnership, owned and led by its members, who decide together how we want to shape its activities and direction. The Network of Excellence allows schools to retain their individuality whilst acknowledging that we are stronger together. By working together, the partnership allows schools to connect and share, to challenge and support. It has helped foster the moral climate for knowledge sharing between schools in disparate locations and also across different phases and leadership structures.

This openness in approach has laid the foundations for innovative programmes that aim to significantly improve the outcomes of pupils. In Portsmouth, we have just completed a year-long Strategic School Improvement Fund project that brought together 20 schools from the local area to address the gaps in attainment and progress for SEND pupils. The project used regional and national SEND specialists to support schools in their development of SEND strategy, practice and implementation. This involved:

  • Establishing a shared, whole school vision and responsibility for pupils with SEND
  • SENCOs and leaders of SEND working strategically alongside class teachers to review and improve their teaching for learners with SEND
  • Sharing practice in the deployment and development of teaching assistants to ensure that this resource is used efficiently and has maximum impact.

The practitioner-led, peer-review programme that the Network of Excellence operates, provided our schools with a positive and credible blueprint for school collaboration which enabled the SEND project to flourish. The national connections that come with being involved in Challenge Partners allowed us to draw on the knowledge and expertise of a wide variety of professionals from outside our locality to inform and drive the success of the project. We are looking forward to publishing the report from the project over the next couple of months