Over the last year and half, at CELT we have been researching and developing our approaches to ‘Closing the Gap’ and, in particular, defining the most effective ways we can support our most disadvantaged learners. We have looked at the guidance coming from NFER, The Chartered College, National Literacy Trust and the research from the EEF to ensure we are making confident decisions about our practice.

Earlier this month, three of our schools contributed to the inaugural conference held by the International Centre for Educational Enhancement (ICEE) at Bolton University, showcasing the ways we had developed our schools with a focus on ‘excellence through equity’. The conference was focused around the ‘past, present and future of school improvement and system reform’ – with Professor David Hopkins‘ keynote drawing on the following themes:

  • High Excellence, High Equity: Noting that internationally, the highest performing education systems and jurisdictions ensure that ALL learners attain highly – Korea, Finland, Canada… and the need for us to re-frame our approaches to focus on equity first.
  • Evidence-based research: Teachers are professional practitioners and as such require autonomy – using systematic self-reflection and classroom study to research and develop their skills.

These themes ran throughout the conference, with input from a broad range of international experts. Prof Alma Harris, Prof Anthony Mackay and Prof Graham Handscomb provided further insight and reflections in their presentations about the past and present challenges for education and school leaders.

It was clear from the contributors that the future landscape requires four key drivers to raise achievement and build capacity for the next stage of education reform:

  1. Personalised learning
  2. Professionalised teaching
  3. Building intelligent accountability
  4. Networking and collaboration

It is reassuring to see that these themes are reflected in work that is already underway here at CELT – from our Closing the Gap strategy to our school improvement and quality assurance platforms, and our continued work on literacy with the National Literacy Trust. All these initiatives clearly show that we are on the right track.  

The culmination of the ICEE conference event was the awarding of Laboratory School status to 20 schools, of which CELT’s Brannel School was one. The principles and best of practice of a Laboratory School are:

  1. The exemplification of research-based classroom practice.
  2. As a setting for peer-to-peer learning and professional development.
  3. As a display and example of the practices and management arrangements associated with Instructional Leadership.
  4. Building capacity through networking by collaborating with other schools and partners to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
  5. Providing a site for the research into educational practice both for Masters & Doctoral degrees as well as funded research projects.

Marc Cooper (Deputy Headteacher) received the award on behalf of Brannel School and represented CELT along with Craig Hayes (Executive Headteacher, Newquay Junior Academy, Newquay Primary Academy), Gemma Harries (Deputy Headteacher, Newquay Tretherras) and Elizabeth Fletcher (Business Development Lead, CELT).