Area Based Education Partnerships: Phase 1

In partnership with The Association of Education Committees


8th February 2023

Today we have published the first phase of our investigation into Area Based Education Partnerships, in collaboration with the Association of Education Committees. You can read the full report here.

This report examines the place of Area-Based Education Partnerships (ABEPs) in the English school system. Christine Gilbert, co-chair of the Area-based Education Partnerships Association (AEPA), describes ABEPs as “school-led, local organisations that include all types of schools but with the central purpose of raising standards” (Gilbert, 2021a, p26). In taking collective responsibility for improving quality, they also attempt to bridge divides and broker connections between different school types, sharing existing and developing new practices. Put simply, ABEPs are local alliances that support school improvement (and often wider goals) across a locality, but do not have any direct control of, or power over, schools or multi-academy trusts (MATs), or direct accountability for school outcomes.

Research on ABEPs is limited and primarily based on the views of those actors involved in founding and leading such partnerships. This report adds a broader perspective, drawing on a number of interviews with both ABEP leaders but also stakeholders who offer insights into the demand for collaborative structures (MAT and school leaders) as well as national and local policymakers and other experts.

Click here to read the full report

CfEY is now beginning a new phase of work on Area-Based Education Partnerships. This work will produce two key outputs:

  1. Description of the supply side through a visual map covering every LA in England

CfEY is building a descriptive visual map that captures the different forms of collaboration that exist at LA-level, informed by the insights gained through our Phase 1 report. We are conducting both desk-based and direct data gathering to get an insight as to the ABEPs and other forms of collaboration that exist at the LA-level (for instance, teaching school hubs; cultural education partnerships; regional or sub-LA partnerships).

  1. Analysis of the demand side through a survey of school and MAT leaders

CfEY believe that a fuller understanding of the value that school leaders place on ‘the local’ could usefully inform ABEP development and broader education policies. A short school leader survey will reveal perceptions on questions like how schools already collaborate with other schools in their locality; what enables or prevents local collaboration; and what role these local organisations play in supporting school improvement and wider outcomes.

For information about the second phase of our project, please contact [email protected].

This project has been generously supported by the Association of Education Committees.


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