Independent review confirms our peer review offers trusts ‘unique benefits’

12 March 2020

An independent review of the Trust Peer Review run by school improvement charity Challenge Partners, released this week, concludes that its unique collaborative model offers multiple benefits.

Researchers Louise Starks and Tami McCrone from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) interviewed Chairs of Trustees, trust CEOs/senior leaders, headteachers and peer reviewers. They found all valued the reviews, took something away from each and took action as a result.

“The level of collaboration intrinsic to the Trust Peer Review is a key feature of the model and both the host trust and peer reviewers recognised the unique benefits in this approach,” they report in A Review of Challenge Partners’ Trust Peer Review Model.

“Attending the visits helped peer reviewers to understand the structures and strategies of different trusts and enabled them to reflect on areas of development within their own trust. All four trusts [in the pilot] stated they had taken away key areas for development.”

Challenge Partners established Trust Peer Reviews to build on their successful school peer reviews, aiming to evaluate trusts’ effectiveness in driving improvement in their schools and outcomes for the children and young people they serve. The programme offers feedback on what is going well and what the trust needs to do to move forward.

Challenge Partners CEO Dr Kate Chhatwal said: “We wanted these Trust Peer Reviews to act as a catalyst to development and continuous improvement in the host trusts, and to provide CPD and stimulus for peer reviewers drawn from other trusts so their own organisations could benefit. In a context where there is limited evidence of what effective improvement in school trusts looks like, we aim also to contribute to system knowledge of what works well.”

Challenge Partners has already facilitated more than 2,000 school peer Quality Assurance Reviews, in nine years, and an earlier Institute of Education evaluation of these expert-led school peer reviews found that they delivered many gains.

You can read the NFER report, A Review of Challenge Partners’ Trust Peer Review Model, here.