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The power is in the partnership

In his illuminating article "Why it's good to be grilled by Year 8" (Platform, TES June 3) Peter Kent makes an excellent case for experimentation in schools and developing students' voice.

Similarly impressive results at the Thomas Sumpter school, in Scunthorpe, also on reducing "in-school variation" - which The TES reported in May - show what can be achieved.

Projects like these, carried out in collaboration with the National College for School Leadership through its leadership network, offer very low-cost solutions to school improvement. Remarkable results are emerging from the first cohort of 25 schools in the variation project, each of which had grants of as little as pound;1,500.

Key to the success is the bringing together of schools that are prepared to experiment with research staff of the national college and other respected academic figures. For the first time, we have a process in which senior staff are doing research in collaboration with academics to improve their schools - and the wider system - rather than to gain extra qualifications, valuable though these are.

Yet the solutions to school improvement do not lie in schools or research departments alone; the combination of the two is what brings a new power and professionalism for teachers.

Ray Tarleton National co-ordinator NCSL leadership network and principal of South Dartmoor community college Devon

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