Leading Edge membership 2017-18 FAQs


What is Leading Edge?

Leading Edge is a national network for high-performing secondary schools who are committed to:

  • working in partnership to raise achievement
  • innovation
  • sharing practice both within and beyond the network

The main purpose of the network is to support connections between high-performing schools, enabling staff at all levels to work collaboratively with like-minded colleagues nationally.

The Leading Edge network has existed since 2003. Since 2011, the network has been led by a steering group of headteachers from within the programme and managed by SSAT. Prior to 2011, it was offered as a specialism for high-performing schools (HPSS) and funded by the DfE.

Core principles:

  • We believe that schools are stronger when they work together
  • We recognise and celebrate the wealth of expertise within the network, and support members to learn from each other
  • We share innovative and highly effective practice that offers both challenge and support to our member schools.
  • We offer a broad perspective on best practice that may not be available locally
  • We see membership as a two-way process – you give expertise and get expertise

What is the criteria for membership?

The membership criteria is determined by the Leading Edge steering group. Membership criteria for 2017-18 is:

Ofsted 1
Ofsted 2 with statistically significant student outcomes*

* We review the national data each year and invite schools who are Ofsted 2 or above and who are on or above the 75th percentile nationally for Progress 8

How do we apply for membership of Leading Edge?

If you have received an invitation to join the programme you have already been identified as being eligible for membership. There is no need to evidence your eligibility, simply get in touch with us by email and we will process your application.

If you have not received an invitation to join the programme get in touch with us by email. We will review your data profile and let you know whether any further evidence is required.

Is it possible to join the programme if we do not meet the membership criteria?

Where a school does not meet the membership criteria but feels that it has a strong case to be recognised as high-performing, decision about membership will be referred to the steering group. In this instance, the school will be asked to provide evidence to support their case.

What is the cost of joining Leading Edge?

Leading Edge membership costs £1600+VAT for the 2017-2018 membership year. Please note that membership is only open to schools that are members of SSAT.

Can a school lose its Leading Edge status?

Yes. The data of all schools in the programme will be reviewed annually and if a school no longer meets the criteria then they may not be eligible to renew their membership for the coming year.

Our performance dipped last year. Does that mean our membership might be questioned?

No. The criteria is based upon schools’ performance over time. Membership would not be questioned on the basis of one year’s performance.

However, if your Ofsted grade drops to a 3 or a 4 then you will not be eligible to renew your membership in the coming year.

What if our Ofsted grade changes mid-year?

We never ask schools to leave the programme mid-year. Where this happens, we recommend that schools make the most of the network for the remainder of the year, we can support in finding connections within the network to support with your development areas.

Can we join Leading Edge if we are not affiliated to SSAT?

No, Leading Edge is coordinated by SSAT and so is only open to affiliated schools.

Is it possible sign up for a smaller package of activities?

Leading Edge membership is sold as a package and it is not possible to have partial membership. However, if you are joining the programme late in the year and have missed key activities, get in touch with us by email and we will look to offer you a reduced rate.

The Leading Edge year

The Leading Edge year runs from 1 April to 31 March.

What are the key events and activities of Leading Edge?

  • School Visits programme – every school in the programme is entitled to an annual visit from a Leading Edge adviser; a practitioner with close and current understanding of what’s happening nationally and in our network, to support links between schools and the sharing of great practice. If you decide to apply for accreditation in the Framework for Exceptional Education the Leading Edge visit will become a moderation visit. If you wish to have an additional visit you may do so at an extra cost of £300.
  • Framework for Exceptional Education – the framework supports ongoing school development and improvement, enabling you to review current practice and identify next steps. Through the Leading Edge network you can work collaboratively with other schools around the focus areas and receive accreditation to recognise the areas in which your practice is ‘transforming.’
  • Leading Edge Leadership conference – a conference exclusive to Leading Edge schools and designed to provide inspiration and updates for senior leaders of high-performing schools. One free place at the conference is offered as part of Leading Edge membership.
  • Leading Edge Directory – the directory showcases the expertise of schools in the network, enabling you to make useful connections and share practice.
  • Leading Change – a termly journal packed with news, articles and case studies from Leading Edge schools.
  • Exceptional Education – two sharing practice events for practitioners in Leading Edge schools (one north, one south)
  • Innovation Grants – Leading Edge is committed to supporting innovative practice in Leading Edge schools. Every school in the network has a chance to bid for £1000 funding to support a project they are working on. Schools are able to submit more than one application. The outcomes of the successful projects are published to all Leading Edge members.
  • Khub Discussion groups – online discussion groups that enable people to share ideas, ask questions of others in the network and share resources and activities that have proved useful in the work you have been doing with your teams.

What can we expect from Leading Edge activities?

Leading Edge offers a range of high-quality activities throughout the year that enable different members of your team to engage with colleagues from across the network.

What happens at the Leading Edge leadership conference?

Audience: Headteachers or senior leaders

The leadership conference offers an opportunity to hear presentations from high-profile speakers and learn about innovative practice from schools within the network. It is also an invaluable opportunity to network informally with like-minded colleagues from other high-performing schools. The content of the day is tailored to reflect the current issues facing high performing schools nationally and the agenda is planned in consultation with the headteachers in the steering group.

What is the purpose of the Leading Edge visit?

The focus of the visit programme is to support networking between Leading Edge schools. The visits are not in any sense an inspection; instead they focus on areas of outstanding practice and play an essential role in supporting links between schools and ensuring that Leading Edge events showcase the most effective and innovative practice in the network.

If there is anything else that you need to know, please get in touch with us by email.

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