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A period of rapid change is underway in the English education system, driven by national policy reforms to increase institutional autonomy and devolve greater freedom and responsibility to schools.

The announcement by Suffolk County Council in summer 2012 of the RSA’s Raising the Bar Inquiry marked a growing awareness among the Suffolk educational community that things had to change. The Council commissioned this report on the explicit agreement that the RSA had the final say over its contents. This independence has been respected throughout and has enabled us to explore issues and proposals without constraint.

At the heart of this report is our belief in the power of collaboration. Our approach is to combine devolution of responsibility and resources to schools with a stronger expectation that they commit to strong partnerships with:

  • Other schools and early years settings in their pyramid where objectives and accountabilities are focussed on the attainment and progression of every child

  • Other neighbouring schools, organisations working with young people and the wider community where the objectives and accountabilities are focussed on the well-being of every child

  • Schools with a similar profile to themselves in ‘families’, where the objectives and accountabilities are focussed on the quality of teaching and learning and school improvement.

For this collaboration to make a difference it must be long term, substantive, focused and based on measurable aims. We have called this report ‘no school an island’ to signal the importance that we attach to the principle that publicly funded institutions must take both individual and shared responsibility for the interests of the children and young people of Suffolk.

We believe that schools now need to open their doors more routinely and purposefully with a wider range of partners, engaging with employers to enable children and young people to have a richer understanding of, and engagement in, the world of work, and to involve the wider community, especially parents, in valuing education and raising children’s achievement.


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