‘No evidence’ school collaboration boosts attainment, research claims

The TES is reporting that a new study is claiming there is no evidence that collaboration between schools improves pupils’ attainment.

The literature review published by the Centre for the Study of Market Reform of Education (CMRE) states that although there is much “popular rhetoric” about the benefits of collaboration, there is a “lack of robust evidence” to show that it improves pupils’ results.

…the CMRE report says that collaboration “probably isn’t key to the next phase of school reform”. Most literature on its impact is “essentially providing textbook examples of a consensus view”, it adds. 

This literature tends to focus on successful schools that share resources and work together to solve problems, and to “suppose that this must contribute to their success” the report argues, adding: “This does not take account of those that do this and don’t succeed.”

Any differences that school chains are making to pupils’ outcomes could be attributable to “the influence of corporatisation” rather than to collaboration itself, the report says. However, research on multi-academy trusts has “opened up positive lines of inquiry”.

James Croft, executive director of the CMRE, said: “This paper shows that we don’t yet know enough about the efficacy of school collaboration, to distinguish it from the underlying effects of school autonomy and competition…”

More at: ‘No evidence’ school collaboration boosts attainment, research claims


See more directly from the CMRE at: Collaborative overreach: why collaboration probably isn’t key to the next phase of school reform or read the report in full below:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://4cpa373vsw6v3t1suthjdjgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Collaborative-overreach.pdf”]


Collaboration between schools has become a very popular idea – are you therefore surprised to learn there is apparently little or no evidence for its impact on raising attainment?

Are there benefits from the approach that you are certain do exist?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


There’s no evidence collaboration between schools raises attainment - are you convinced it is a ‘good thing’?


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove I’d suggest collaboration is less disruptive than pitting schools against each other as appears to be the current MP desire

  2. TW

    Not surprised at all.  There was never any attempt to seriously substantiate these assertions.  They were simply promulgated as part of the government’s propaganda campaign to implement its ideological obsession of privatising schools solely for the benefit of its parasite mates in business.

  3. An organisation promoting ‘market forces in education’ says:
    ‘There is also much scope for further progress towards
    more competitive provision in respect of liberalising school
    supply, better information provision, and reforms to the
    way schools are funded. The international evidence for the
    effectiveness of such reforms is persuasive and growing.’ (Page 5)

    School collaboration works against competition so it’s hardly surprising CMRE argues against it. 
    But the ‘international evidence’ as given by the OECD said good school systems ‘Recognise that the quality of education does not automatically respond
    to market mechanisms.’  It also found:
    ‘Among OECD countries, systems with more competition among schools tend to show a stronger impact of students’
    socio-economic status on their performance in mathematics [the focus of PISA 2012].’  Although advising caution, OECD said ‘this finding is consistent with research showing that
    school choice – and, by extension, school competition – is related to greater levels of segregation in the school system,
    which may have adverse consequences for equity in learning opportunities and outcomes.’
    http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-volume-IV.pdf (pages 54 and 192).

  4. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove any improvement must be matched by worsening elsewhere. Don’t you know anything about norm referenced marking?

  5. My comment below cited the OECD.  CMRE discount OECD claiming it’s confused correlation with causation.  Just because school competition correlates with greater segregation, CMRE imply, doesn’t mean competition causes the segregation.
    Collaboration can co-exist with competition, CMRE argue, because corporate structures (ie academy trusts) in competition with each other can collaborate among themselves.  But such ‘collaboration’ often comes at the price of individual academy autonomy.  Heads in academy chains are already complaining about policies imposed from central office.
    The CMRE report cites copious amount of literature. but the National Audit Office Academies and Schools Oversight report.  This found informal interventions such as local support (ie collaboration) was more effective in improving struggling schools than formal interventions such as academy conversion.  http://schoolsweek.co.uk/nao-critical-lessons/

  6. nastyoldmrpike

    brighton118 andylutwyche SchoolsImprove the heads roundtable idea of each school in area ia judged on area outcome is best idea…

  7. nastyoldmrpike

    brighton118 andylutwyche SchoolsImprove then schools simply must work together as they are all judged together.

  8. JudithBosavern

    SchoolsImprove Effects of corporitisation? Positive lines of enquiry on MATS? Why should these differ from other forms of collaboration?

  9. VivWatson1

    SchoolsImprove is there any evidence it doesn’t? My cluster are great support to each other – enable us to do things we otherwise couldn’t

Let us know what you think...