Collaborative Autonomy

Our Philosophy

We believe in a concept of ‘collaborative autonomy’ – schools working together with common aims under a common banner they all believe in but retaining a sense of autonomy and uniqueness.

Research suggests that sustainable school improvement comes from support and challenge from other schools and other partners.

Accelerated progress for children comes through a mixture of support on a personal scale, great classroom teaching, a sense of success and aspiration within the school, and the ability to shape a personal programme that suits abilities and talents.

A Powerful Legacy

Collaborative Autonomy ensures schools have strong networks and a strong voice in their future.

Work with us is about developing ‘custodianship’ and a legacy of great practice to hand on to others.

We help you build strong capacity to improve from within and a culture that looks outward and never stops trying to be better.

Collaboration within a range of networks, and autonomy at a local level, are at the heart of what we offer so that individual schools and the family of schools grow through working
with each other.

Collaborative Autonomy


Schools existing within a win-win landscape, benefitting from and feeling ownership for their own success but also the success of their neighbours and ‘family members’. They exist in a competitive context but grow capacity from within, engage with a range of networks close to them, virtually and through representation and work with a range of partners to drive sustainable improvement.


A school might collaborate with other partners but is limited in their capability to act autonomously.

These schools have no strong identity and are often lacking in the capacity to drive their own improvement without depending on others
for direction.


Critics often highlight the dangers of schools becoming ‘islands’, isolated and in competition with neighbours.

Such schools are frequently dependent on the skills and drive of key individuals and potentially vulnerable to personnel change.


A school might be isolated or lacks capacity and capability to drive its own future and rarely works with other supportive organisations. This is a characteristic frequently associated with long-term underperformance.

It is one of life’s great ironies: schools are in the business of teaching and learning, yet they are terrible at learning from one another. If they ever discover how to do this, their future is assured.

– Fullan 2001