In Nottingham, the local authority’s school improvement service has all but disappeared after most of the city’s secondary schools converted to academy status.
However, Nottingham City Council still plays an active role in raising standards in schools through a partnership that brings leaders of maintained schools and multi-academy trusts together.
This came about after several schools went into special measures at the same time.
A series of unannounced Ofsted inspections at the end of 2013 led to six Nottingham secondaries – three academies along with three maintained schools – being rated as “inadequate”. In response, an education improvement board was set up.
John Dexter, the education director of Nottingham City Council, says: “I think they wanted to copy the London Challenge but without any money to fund this.”
Dexter, who is a former headteacher in the city, describes the challenges posed by a mixed schools system.
“The council doesn’t have school improvement officers who go into schools any more,” he says. “All of our secondaries are academies apart from one, which is going to convert to academy status.
“There are 26 maintained primary schools who work together in a trust and the council provides funding towards that.”
Dexter describes the council’s new role as encouraging school leaders to help each other.
“2013 was very difficult but we have now just got to the point where our Ofsted ratings are above national average,” he says. “I am not going to say this is all because of the improvement board, but I do think that bringing all schools together has helped to deliver improvements.”