One of seven school clusters established in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, Calderdale Secondary School Improvement Cluster (CSSIC) covers the borough’s 14 secondary schools.

With an elected school improvement board comprising headteachers, governors and the LA, CSSIC’s board also has a serving headteacher as Chair and a representative on the Calderdale-wide school improvement board.

CSSIC’s constituent schools are all arranged in triads. Each triad is organised based on the needs of the school, its current Ofsted rating and whether there is a new headteacher, allowing heads to share best practice and work together as effectively as possible.

With a focus on peer support, B11 was briefed to provide an external, independent view of CSSIC’s review processes, namely through data analysis reviews and school visits.


Having thoroughly reviewed CSSIC’s school improvement plan, B11 offered an approach tailored to the group’s cluster and triad set-up. As part of an ongoing partnership, this approach sees data analysis reviews and school visits planned accordingly.

A data review begins with one of B11’s highly experienced consultants preparing a desktop analysis of a host school’s data, which is then shared with the host and peer heads. Two weeks later – allowing heads sufficient preparation time – a half-day meeting takes place in which the findings are discussed and a judgement made in an outcomes report. This report is then shared with the visiting heads for comment before a final report is submitted to the host head and chair of CSSIC.

A school visit involves a one-day visit to a school led by one of our consultants, with peer heads and the LA officer on the team. Driven by the needs of the school and a brief supplied by the host headteacher, the visit may involve observations in lessons meetings with middle/senior leaders, or other activities as specified by the headteacher. The focus may be across the board, subject specific or on the progress of disadvantaged students, for example. Verbal feedback is provided on the day, followed by a written report. The draft report is shared with the review team members before being sent to the host head along with a brief summary of strengths and areas for improvement / lines of enquiry.

The schools and headteachers across CSSIC use the reviews primarily to test out their self-evaluation. With both of these services, we regularly ask peer and host heads to provide feedback on the process, ensuring schools fully benefit from B11’s offering and that our work supports governors and leaders in informed decision making.

Chris Sylge, School Effectiveness Officer at Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, comments on the advantages of these services: “B11 provides validation and challenge to the judgements of our peer-to-peer process, ensuring that the reviews are robust and reliable. Participant heads also report that B11’s input to the process helps them to hone their own skills under the guidance of an independent third party, as well as the LA officer.“We have been able to feedback on the process, they listened to us and adaptations have been made by the Principal Consultant and their team as a result. We have looked at the offer of other similar consultancy firms, but came back to B11 because they provide good value for money. The USP and real benefit of B11 is that they are all current or former Ofsted inspectors and draw on this experience, while not actually practising as such, while reviewing our schools.”

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