Teaching schools: a guide for potential applicants

Find out what teaching schools do, what funding's available, how to apply to become a teaching school and how to work with a teaching school.


Teaching schools are outstanding schools that work with others to provide high-quality training and development to new and experienced school staff. They are part of the government’s plan to give schools a central role in raising standards by developing a self-improving and sustainable school-led system.

By October 2016, our goal is to have a network of 600 teaching schools making significant improvements in the quality of teaching, leadership and pupil attainment.


The application round is now closed.

Register your interest in becoming a teaching school.

Target areas

Cohort 9 is a targeted application round focusing on areas of greatest need to ensure that all schools can access high-quality support. If you can provide support to schools in the target areas, even if you’re situated outside of a target area, please specify how you’d do this within your application. Your application will be considered on an individual basis by the designation panel.

Who can apply

To apply, your school will need to:

  • have an outstanding rating from Ofsted
  • provide evidence of successful partnerships
  • show excellent leadership with a proven track record of school improvement
  • have an outstanding headteacher with at least 3 years’ experience
  • have a leadership team with the capacity to lead the 6 core areas of the teaching school role

Teaching school status is open to all schools in England regardless of type or phase, such as:

  • nursery schools
  • primary, middle, secondary, all-through and special schools
  • pupil referral units and short-stay schools
  • faith schools
  • independent schools
  • academies, chains and free schools
  • sixth-form colleges

There can be more than one teaching school in an area.

Read the full teaching schools eligibility criteria for further information.

If your application is successful, you will be a designated teaching school for initially 4 years, providing you continue to meet the eligibility criteria.

If your school doesn’t meet the eligibility criteria, you may be interested in the following options.

Working with teaching schools

You could consider working with a teaching school as a strategic partner. This would involve helping the teaching school to perform aspects of their role.

Strategic partners do not have to meet the teaching school eligibility criteria. But you will need to show that you have the competence and capacity to provide high quality support in a particular area. This might include initial teacher training, continuing professional development or leadership development provision.

Find teaching schools in your area using our teaching schools map.

Teaching school alliances

Teaching school alliances are led by a teaching school and include schools that are benefiting from support, as well as strategic partners who lead some aspects of training and development. Strategic partners may include:

  • other schools from any phase or sector
  • universities
  • academy chains
  • local authorities
  • dioceses
  • private sector organisations

A teaching school alliance may decide to work with other alliances to share knowledge and resources as a teaching school network.

Types of teaching school alliance

Alliances can be set up in 3 different ways. They are:

  • single alliance – 1 teaching school leading 1 teaching school alliance
  • job-share alliance – 2 small or special schools jointly leading 1 teaching school alliance
  • multiple alliance – 2 or more teaching schools leading 1 alliance

Alliances with more than one teaching school will agree between them:

  • the roles and responsibilities for each teaching school and their strategic partners
  • who is accountable for the success criteria and performance against each of the teaching school core areas
  • governance arrangements

We require evidence that all the teaching schools within an alliance make an appropriate level of contribution. This makes it possible to identify the individual efforts that make up the alliance’s performance whenever its activity is reviewed.

As a teaching school, you will identify, develop and co-ordinate expertise for the benefit of pupils across a network of schools, resulting in:

  • better results for pupils
  • fewer poorly performing schools
  • more good and outstanding schools
  • a self-improving and sustainable system

There are 6 core areas of responsibility for teaching schools.

1. School-led initial teacher training

We expect you to develop opportunities to provide school-led initial teacher training.

You will:

  • lead the development of school-led initial teacher training through School Direct or by gaining accreditation as an initial teacher training provider
  • take an active role in the recruitment and selection of trainee teachers
  • have a clear plan for teacher training, including:
    • access to outstanding lessons and teachers for observation and planning
    • mentoring
    • quality assurance
    • co-ordination of initial teacher training with professional development opportunities

2. Continuing professional development

We expect you to offer a range of professional development opportunities for teachers and school support staff, extending your strong learning culture to schools you work with. These must build on initial teacher training and induction. You will:

  • identify the best teachers and leaders from across the alliance to provide school-based professional development
  • tailor development to meet the specific needs of schools
  • offer coaching and mentoring
  • evaluate the impact of professional development across the alliance
  • offer opportunities for formal accreditation or school-based research

3. Supporting other schools

We expect you to lead the co-ordination of school-to-school support. This usually involves working with a school or academy in challenging circumstances to bring about improvement.

You’ll need to identify priorities in your area and support under-performing schools and academies. Local authorities, dioceses and chains may also work with you to support schools in need of improvement.

You’ll ensure that the best leaders are working to improve the quality of teaching and leadership where it is most needed.

This includes deciding how to use the services of system leaders to provide support to other schools, such as:

  • middle and senior leaders working as specialist leaders of education
  • headteachers working as local and national leaders of education
  • chairs of governors working as national leaders of governance

Information on these can be found in our guide to system leader roles.

4. Identifying and developing leadership potential

We expect you to develop successful succession planning strategies to identify and develop people to fill leadership positions in the future.

To meet this responsibility, you will:

  • develop future headteachers to help meet the most pressing national needs in primary, small rural, special, challenging urban/coastal and faith schools
  • take action to help to more women and leaders from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to become senior leaders
  • put processes in place to identify potential leaders in areas of need
  • develop potential leaders within and across your schools
  • build strategic governance and partnerships in order to make decisions about developing and placing potential leaders

5. Specialist leaders of education

Specialist leaders of education are outstanding middle and senior leaders. They have at least 2 years’ leadership experience in a particular specialism (eg maths, school business management, initial teacher training).

Their role is to support individuals or teams in a similar position in other schools. They help others achieve outstanding leadership in their area of specialism.

You’ll recruit and manage the placements of specialist leaders of education. This involves:

  • identifying subject area priorities within your alliance
  • setting up a panel of headteachers to assess applicants
  • using eligibility criteria to select specialist leaders of education
  • ensuring that the recruitment process is fair
  • notifying us of outcomes and confirming them to applicants
  • dealing with applicant appeals
  • organising training for specialist leaders of education
  • negotiating specialist leader of education work within your alliance
  • ensuring that specialist leaders of education are providing high-quality support that is having a positive impact

6. Research and development

To meet this responsibility, we expect you to:

  • build on existing research and contribute to alliance and wider priorities
  • base new initiatives within your alliance on existing evidence and ensure you can measure them
  • work with other teaching schools in your area, or nationally, where appropriate
  • ensure that your staff use existing evidence
  • allow your staff the time and support they need take part in research and development activities
  • share learning from research and development work with the wider school system

Read the Teaching schools: the school perspective report published October 2015 to find out how some teaching schools are responding to these 6 areas.


Teaching schools currently receive an annual grant known as core funding. This is paid directly to your school. It will enable you to build the leadership and administrative capacity to lead your alliance. At this time funding is allocated as follows:

  • £60,000 for the first year
  • £50,000 in year 2
  • £40,000 in years 3 and 4

Annual core grant funding will, in general, decrease each year, which reflects the expectation that alliances, as they mature, become sustainable.

Funding has been announced into year 5 for the first cohort of teaching schools.

If you are selected as a teaching school, we will ask you to complete a set of collaborative fund terms and conditions. You will renew these at the start of each financial year. At the end of each financial year, we will ask you to show how you have spent your funding to achieve the objectives in your action plan.

Teaching school cohort 9 target areas

Region Area
East Midlands Derbyshire
East of England Cambridgeshire (North), Norfolk, Peterborough, Southend on Sea, Suffolk
London Havering
North East Darlington, Northumberland, Tees Valley Area
North West Blackpool, Cumbria, Oldham, Rochdale, Tameside
South East Bracknell Forest, Brighton and Hove, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Isle of Wight, Kent (North and South), Medway, Portsmouth, Reading, West Berkshire, Wokingham
South West Bath and North East Somerset, Devon (North West), Gloucestershire, Plymouth, Poole, Somerset, Wiltshire (South and North East)
West Midlands Shropshire, Staffordshire, Walsall, Warwickshire
Yorkshire and The Humber Bradford, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire (East), North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire


For further information about teaching schools, please email

Teaching school and system leader help desk

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, excluding UK bank holidays.