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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/system-leader-and-teaching-schools-review-of-designation/system-leader-and-teaching-schools-review-of-designation-policy
Designation review criteria
System leader and teaching school designations will only be reviewed for one of the following reasons:
A system leader or teaching school no longer meets the required designation eligibility criteria.
System leaders are encouraged to take on positions at the most challenging schools in the most challenging areas. If a system leader moves to a school that is judged to require improvement or be in special measures, the system leader will retain their designation pending a review 18 months after the move. At that time, they will be expected to demonstrate improvements to that school in order to retain their designation.
An individual associated with a designation behaves in a way that brings the role or the DfE into disrepute.
The review of designation team will consider complaints that allege that a system leader has engaged in professional misconduct. The preliminary stage of this process will determine whether there are grounds for a review of designation.
The review of designation team broadly defines professional misconduct as:
- failure to act as an ambassador for the national leader of education (NLE), national support school (NSS), national leader of governance (NLG), teaching school programme and the DfE. This includes, where reasonable, not promoting the programme
- failure to behave in a way that upholds the reputation of the teaching school, NLE, NSS or NLG role and the Department for Education (DfE)
Examples of behaviour and practice which may lead to de-designation under the misconduct criterion, include, but are not limited to:
- withdrawal from a commitment (contractual or otherwise) to provide support to a school, without just cause and reasonable notice
- actively campaigning against government policy
- failure to meet terms and conditions laid out in the NLE/NSS or NLG conditions of designation including conditions related to past or present grant funding
- withholding or misrepresenting any information in the NLE/NSS or NLG application in such a way that it may have materially affected the original designation decision
- failure to take appropriate action to deal with any reports from client schools or local authorities in relation to inappropriate conduct of the NSS staff providing support
- a system leader being involved in behaviour, including that outside of their work as an NLE or NLG, that has or could call into question their integrity or probity. Where an NLE, headteacher or member of senior leadership of a teaching school has been suspended from their post pending investigation by an external body, the designation will automatically be frozen until such point as the investigation has concluded.
This information is specifically related to the system leader designations.
Any other cases of alleged serious misconduct of a teacher can be reported to DfE through teacher misconduct: referring a case.
A system leader or teaching school has failed to provide school-to-school support within the last 12 months, or has failed to respond to a deployment request.
Exemptions to this may include the:
- system leader is suffering long-term illness
- system leader is on maternity leave
- system leader is on paternity leave
- system leader’s school undertaking conversion to academy status; amalgamation, federation or other significant structural change (grace period of 6 months allowed)
For teaching schools this also includes failure to provide, within the last 12 months:
- school-led initial teacher training (ITT)
- evidence-based continuing professional and leadership development
This means they have failed to demonstrate, through annual reporting or in any other way, that the teaching school role has effectively been delivered across all of these delivery areas.
In addition, it expected that all teaching school and system leaders will co-operate with the quality assurance activities undertaken by DfE including completion of the data hub. Nil returns may result in a review of designation taking place.
The review of designation process
The review of designation process consists of 4 stages:
- Identification: ongoing activity within DfE utilising published performance data, Ofsted outcomes and information submitted from schools may mean that a potential issue is identified
- Notification of review: DfE will inform a school or system leader that a review is required with clear guidelines and timeframes
- Supporting statement: schools can address queries and evidence the impact they are having with their designation
- Review of designation panel: a panel consisting of teaching school leaders who review the available evidence
Change of circumstances: Whenever there is a change in a system leader’s or teaching school’s circumstances, such as a system leader moving to another school or headteacher retirement, then the system leader or teaching school are required to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss and agree the next steps.
Identification: stage 1
Designations are identified for a review for one or more of the following reasons:
- eligibility: the system leader or teaching school no longer meets the eligibility criteria
- misconduct: the system leader, or any member of staff associated with a school-based designation, has behaved in a way which brings the role or DfE into disrepute
- delivery: the system leader or associated school has failed to demonstrate that it has met expectations in relation to delivery of the role at annual review or at any other time
Notification of review: stage 2
When a designation has been identified for review, the accountable individual for the designation will be notified via email by the review of designation team. This email will also set out the timescales for the review outlining next steps and invite the system leader to discuss the case with a DfE representative should they wish to do so.
Decisions which result in the removal of a designation can only be taken by the review of designation panel, except where one or more of the following occur:
- a designation has been held for less than a full school term, and a change in circumstances leads to the eligibility criteria for the role no longer being met
- a full Ofsted inspection of the school associated with the designation results in a judgement of ‘requires improvement’ or below
- performance data drops to the below the national average
In the instances listed above, the senior official responsible for the programme has the authority to automatically remove the designation of an individual or school.
There is no right of appeal against automatic de-designation.
Right to withdraw
To withdraw from the programme the accounting individual for the designation should email email@example.com stating that they are withdrawing themselves and/or the associated school. The withdrawal will take immediate effect from the date that the email is sent.
If a system leader or teaching school decides not to have their case reviewed by a review of designation panel then DfE will respect their right to withdraw from the programme.
This will not affect any future applications should a chair of governors or headteacher and school meet the eligibility criteria and wish to re-apply for designation.
Supporting statement: stage 3
Personal representation at the review of designation panel is not possible. However, the system leader or teaching school can submit an impact statement including any evidence that they wish to be presented to the panel. This is limited to 1,000 words unless you are specifically told otherwise in your notification email.
Review of designation panel: stage 4
The review of designation panel is made up of appropriate educational professionals that includes:
- 3 teaching school council representatives
- representatives from the Department for Education
- a former Her Majesty’s Inspector (HMI) representative
The panel will review all evidence submitted in support of the designation and make a final decision. We aim to communicate the outcome to the system leader or accountable officer within 10 working days after the review of designation panel hearing.
In cases of misconduct where a complaint has been made, we will inform the complainant of the outcome at the end of the process once the system leader has been informed.
Outcome of a review
Under normal circumstances there are 2 possible outcomes of a review of designation:
Under exceptional circumstances the designation may be placed under review.
Designation is retained
The panel will make a decision to retain the designation and the associated activity should continue as before. No further action is required unless otherwise stated by the panel.
Designation is removed (de-designation)
The decision to de-designate a system leader is not taken lightly and the review of designation panel consider all evidence carefully. However, where ongoing designation is not possible the system leader will be given a period of time, to be agreed with DfE, in which to complete any support to another school.
Where necessary, DfE will review the funding implications of the de-designation decision. For example, it may be necessary to recover all or part of the annual bursary provided to system leaders.
There will also be further implications to consider, for example, other designations and initial teacher training (ITT).
Designation is placed under review
In exceptional circumstances, designations may be placed under review for an agreed time. This will happen where there is a concern over delivery of the role or alliance, but the panel feels there are opportunities to address the concerns.
In cases where designation is placed under review for an agreed period, the panel will set:
- clear targets and a date for future review
- how and when the review period may end
- what needs to be achieved to ensure that full designation can be re-instated
Prior to the case being considered again by the panel the system leader will have a further opportunity to submit a supporting statement.
If a designation has been removed those individuals or the accountable officer are eligible to appeal the decision.
Teaching schools: implication of de-designation
The decision to de-designate a teaching school is not taken lightly. The teaching school will be given a period of up to 6 months in which to work with DfE to explore the following options:
- Existing multiple teaching school alliances continue under the leadership of another existing teaching school within the alliance; where the other teaching school remains in place. The de-designated school can continue to work as part of the alliance, as a strategic partner.
- A transition plan for the alliance is put in place to merge with another teaching school (from another alliance) who will take over the leadership of the alliance with an objective to transition the work into their alliance. The de-designated school can, of course, continue to work as part of the alliance, as a strategic partner.
- In exceptional circumstances, for example if de-designation leaves an area with acute need, DfE may consider a succession plan for the alliance whereby an eligible strategic partner is identified to take on the leadership of the alliance. This is only possible where the strategic partner is eligible to apply to be a teaching school and this will be assessed under the usual designation criteria and may involve a visit from a team of ex-HMI. The de-designated school can, of course, continue to work as part of the alliance, as a strategic partner.
We appreciate the need for flexibility around the timeline of the transition plan, and understand that in some cases a commitment to a project or piece of work will need to be honoured, we would ask a de-designated school to reflect this in their plans.
We will review the funding situation in each case taking into consideration remaining commitments and transition requirements for the alliance.
Implications for job-share teaching school alliances
In the case of job-share teaching school alliances the panel will give appropriate consideration to whether the other teaching school in the alliance will (i) continue to meet the criteria in their own right and (ii) have the capacity to continue to lead the alliance in the event of one of the teaching schools being de-designated. This will be picked up directly with the school and evidence of the continued capacity and eligibility of the remaining school should be referenced in the supporting statement.
Given that teaching schools in job-share alliances apply together, basing their delivery proposals on the leadership from 2 or more schools, it will always be necessary for a review to consider the implications that de-designation of one of the teaching schools may have on the other school’s ability to lead the alliance. However, as already stated it is the intention of DfE to retain the designation of teaching schools, and in particular the continuity of alliances wherever appropriate.
Implications for other roles
Where a headteacher is also an NLE and the teaching school is an NSS, these designations will be reviewed at the same time so there is minimal disruption to the individual and school.
Appropriate body status
For those teaching schools who also hold responsibility as an appropriate body for newly qualified teacher (NQT) induction, where a decision results in the teaching school being de-designated, the school’s role as an appropriate body will cease from the date of de-designation.
In such situations, DfE will work with the teaching school to ensure that the continuity of an NQT’s induction period is maintained, which will involve undertaking a re-allocation process to transfer duties to an alternative appropriate body in the locality.
School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) accreditation
Removal of the teaching school role does not of itself affect the accreditation status of that school as a provider of ITT. However, where a school has been judged less than ‘good’ as a result of an Ofsted Section 5 school inspection, the school might wish to seek migration of its accreditation to another school within the ITT partnership that is at least ‘good’.
In the first instance the school as the ITT provider should read the migration of initial teacher training accreditation process.
Implications for those teaching schools who are also a lead for School Direct, differ depending on the reason for de-designation. They are as follows:
- Ofsted moves school from ‘outstanding’ to ‘good’ – there is no impact on school’s eligibility to be a School Direct lead school
- Ofsted moves school from ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ – school to consider whether it has the capacity to continue as lead school
- the school is failing to meet its ITT objectives – DfE to consider whether it has the capacity to continue as a lead school
If the school cannot or does not wish to continue as a lead school, DfE would recommend it transfer responsibilities to another school in its partnership.
Specialist leaders of education (SLEs)
An SLE’s designation status will not be affected if their teaching school is de-designated.
Every effort will be made to ensure that the SLE is retained within the system, and within their existing alliance if it has been agreed that the alliance can continue under the leadership of another teaching school.
The de-designated teaching school can continue with their SLE functions as a strategic partner within the alliance. Where this is not possible an SLE should be reallocated to another teaching school alliance.