MD1604 London Schools Excellence Fund - Subject Knowledge Hubs

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
17 March 2016
Decision by: 
Boris Johnson MP (past staff), Mayor of London

Executive summary

MD1132 approved the establishment of the London Schools Excellence Fund (the “Fund”) to help London Schools make progress in raising school standards in literacy, numeracy, science, technology, engineering, maths and modern foreign and ancient languages. 

MD1538 approved expenditure of up to £660,000 to deliver the London Schools Excellence Fund Legacy Fund (Up to £560,000 for the co-ordination of up to 20 Subject Knowledge Hubs; and up to £100,000 for a Teacher Innovation Fund.) 

The Mayor is asked to approve grant awards for London Schools Excellence Fund Subject Knowledge Hubs and the London Teaching Innovation Fund and expenditure to develop the London 
Schools Excellence Fund Resource Hub.



The Mayor approves additional expenditure of up to £300,000 from the London Schools of Excellence Fund and the grant funding of 18 Subject Knowledge Hubs (from this funding and the one approved in MD1538) as set out in Appendix 1.


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    The Mayor's Education Inquiry was established as a task-and-finish inquiry in December 2011 to bring together evidence and ideas, and to develop practical solutions to further improve educational outcomes in primary and secondary schools in London. Its final report published on 19 October 2012 made 12 recommendations where it was believed regional action could have the greatest effect on young people's lives and provide clear added value in areas in which the mayor can have a direct influence.  

1.2    The establishment of the London Schools Excellence Fund (the Fund) was one of the twelve recommendations.  The aims of the Fund are to:
I.    Cultivate teaching excellence through investment in teaching and teachers so that we refocus attention on knowledge-led teaching and curriculum through the creation of new resources and support for teachers;
II.    Support school-to-school and peer-led activity to raise achievement in priority subjects (English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, history, geography, languages), at primary and secondary schools;
III.    Support development of activity which has already been tested and has some evaluation (either internal or external) where further support is needed to develop the activity, scale up and undertake additional evaluation; and
IV.    In the longer term create cultural change and raise expectations in the London school system.

1.2    In January 2013 the Mayor (under MD1132) approved £2.65m GLA funding for the London Schools Excellence Fund.  

1.3    Following MD1132, and under delegated authority, the Director of Communities & Intelligence has approved allocation of funding under Round 1 (for grants over £75,000), Round 2 (grants under £75,000), and Round 3 (Children in Care and knowledge mobilisation) of the London Schools Excellence Fund (under DD1069, 1080, 1118, 1142, 1195, 1247, 1281, 1304 and 1331).

1.4    MD1538 approved £660,000 funding to the London Schools Excellence Legacy Fund for:
•    Subject Knowledge Hubs  (£560,000)
•    Teacher Innovation Fund (£100,000) 

1.5    We are proposing that an additional £300,000 of London Schools Excellence Fund budget (as approved under MD 1132) is directed to fund Subject Knowledge Hubs.  

1.6    The proposed LSEF Legacy Resource Hub will be funded from the original London Schools Excellence Fund Budget (as approved under MD 1132).

1.7    A number of LSEF projects will be declaring their final actual expenditure in January 2016.  We anticipate that this will allow more funding to be re-directed to fund further subject knowledge hubs and/or increase the amount of grant available through the London Teacher Innovation Fund.

1.8    This MD seeks the additional £300k funding approval from the Mayor for total expenditure as follows:

•    expenditure of up to £860,000 to grant fund 18 Subject Knowledge Hubs as detailed in Appendix 1  
•    expenditure of up to £100,000 to grant fund the London Teacher Innovation Fund
•    expenditure of up to £50,000 to develop the London Schools Excellence Fund Resource Hub.


Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    Subject Knowledge Hubs

2.1.1    This bridging funding will enable co-ordination of the subject specific hubs and networks that are central to many current LSEF projects.  These subject knowledge hubs provide the opportunity for teachers from a range of schools to work together alongside subject and business experts to support excellent teaching in London schools through a strong focus on improving teachers subject knowledge.

2.1.2    Hubs will be supported from January 2016 until August 2017. This extends our original anticipated delivery period to include the summer term in 2017 and enables the hubs to deliver for the full 2016/17 academic year.  Through our previous LSEF projects we have found that it is important for schools to deliver to the academic rather than financial year.

2.1.3    The hubs will be working to achieve the following outcomes: 
•    Improved teacher subject knowledge and confidence
•    Improved pupil attainment and progress
•    Supporting self-sustaining school-to-school and peer-led activities focused on subject knowledge and use of evidence.
•    Improving joint working between schools, universities, subject associations, business and industry experts.

2.1.4    The Request for Proposals for the Subject Knowledge Hubs was published on the GLA website in October 2015. 

2.1.5    43 applications for grant funding were received. Each proposal was assessed by two GLA Officers against the application criteria set out in the Request for Proposals under the following headings: 
•    The strength of rationale and evidence for the proposal
•    Clear delivery and impact
•    Previous experience and expertise
•    Value for money.

2.1.6    Grant funding applicants were asked to set out clearly how their hub meets the aims of the LSEF legacy fund (how it cultivates teaching excellence by focusing on core academic disciplines using an evidence based approach), how it supports self-sustaining school-to-school, peer-led activities and joint development of practice, the need for the hub, how the hub adds value to current activity, and how the hub will be sustained.   Grant applications were of good quality.

2.1.7    The projects recommended for funding are detailed in Appendix 1.

2.1.8    The grant available was capped at £50,000 for each individual hub over the five academic term period.   

2.1.9    Match funding (including in-kind match funding) for hub activity (for example for delivery of CPD, to produce CPD resources, to cover teacher supply costs) was required from each of the hubs as the GLA funding is to be used primarily for administration and co-ordination costs to ensure the hubs are sustainable beyond the lifetime of the funding.   £771,466 of match funding has been proposed by the recommended Subject Knowledge Hubs.

2.1.10    In MD1538 we forecast that 150 schools, 1,500 teachers and 10,000 pupils would benefit from an investment of £560,000 into subject knowledge hubs. We based these figures on approximately 15 hubs being supported with each hub working with 10 schools, and 10 teachers being supported at each school in that hub. This gave a net unit cost per teacher supported of £373, considerably less than the average unit cost of support through the previous LSEF projects of approximately £1,400 per teacher.  

2.1.11    The proposed Subject Knowledge Hubs intend to support 1,024 schools.  They will directly support 2,544 teachers, and 79,626 pupils. This gives a net unit cost per teacher of £338.  This unit cost is less than we had forecast. 

2.1.12    The number of schools, teachers and pupils varies from hub to hub and is dependent on the activities and nature of continuing professional development that will be delivered.  The Royal Geographic Society will be delivering to the most schools (300) and teachers (900) as it offers a wide range of relatively light- touch interventions through its hub using a well-established network of schools.  Other projects such as Glebe Primary School’s support in the teaching of English as an Additional Language and Rosendale School’s literacy project are directly supporting less schools and teachers, but providing a higher and longer intensity of support to each teacher.

The number of schools to be supported by each hub is higher than we had anticipated – averaging at 141 per school, and with a median of 30 schools in each hub.  An average of 141 teachers will be support by each hub, with a median of 60 teachers.

2.1.13    The Hubs will support all key stages from early years foundation stage to key stage 5. 

2.1.14    They will support teachers in the following subject areas:


Number of Hubs



Literacy/English/English as an Additional Language


STEM (Chemistry/ Physics)


Classics / History


Modern Foreign Languages


Cohort hubs: Looked after Children / Challenging and Vulnerable Learners


Computer Science






Combined (English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics)





2.2    London Teacher Innovation Fund

2.2.1    The London Teacher Innovation Fund will offer small grants (from £3,000 - £10,000) to teachers to develop and implement creative and innovative teaching strategies in the classroom. 

2.2.2    The London Teacher Innovation Fund will be available from January 2016 to August 2017.

2.2.3    Outcomes of the fund will include:
•    Improved teacher subject knowledge and pedagogy
•    Improved pupil attainment and progress
•    More resources and tools available for teachers to use to support direct delivery in classroom.

2.2.4    In November 2015, eight organisations were invited to respond to the Request for Proposals to develop and deliver a London Teacher Innovation Fund (LTIF).

2.2.5    One application was received from SHINE (  The application was assessed by two GLA Officers against the application criteria set out in the Request for Proposals under the following headings: 

•    Delivery: Clearly set out how you will meet the project deliverables and run this small grants programme; demonstrate how you will support funded LTIF projects with delivery, evaluating impact and sharing and disseminating knowledge; clearly set out project management processes for delivering the project and how you will assess risks and issues
•    Supplier experience: A track record of developing and managing a small grants programmes for teachers; demonstrate the evaluation and impact of previous small grants programmes; evidence of how existing systems will support the LTIF; Experience of working with and engaging schools.
•    Cost: The costs of running this support should be realistic and represent value for money overall; match funding for delivery costs should be represented; the percentage of funding that will be allocated directly to teacher grants.

2.2.6    SHINE’s application was strong.  They will award 2-3 Teacher grants in March 2016, to pilot the approach.  Teacher grants will cover the cost of delivering a teacher-led project in these schools and in addition, the schools are expected to promote the London Teacher Innovation Fund to other schools, utilising their professional networks to encourage applications from schools that may not have benefited from other external funding programmes.  In July 2016, further grants will be awarded, with an expected average grant size of £8,000. Teachers will be linked with peers and subject experts through SHINE and GLA networks. The majority of the £100,000 grant will go directly to teachers. Grant management costs will be 53% match funded by SHINE.

2.2.7    The London Teacher Innovation Fund is forecast to support 11 schools.  It will directly support 55 teachers, with teachers then cascading knowledge to a further 55 teachers.  1,650 pupils are forecast to directly benefit. 

2.3     London Schools Excellence Fund Resource Hub

2.3.1    A large number of teaching resources have been developed by the London Schools Excellence Fund projects’.  Individual projects have developed a range of materials from lesson plans to handbooks to videos.

2.3.2    The Resource Hub will provide an online repository accessed through for these resources allowing teachers, local authorities and other education specialists to have a single space where they can access this work.  It will allow users to search for resources by subject, year group, and type of resource.

2.3.3    LSEF project page’s will give an overview of what each project achieved with a link to their final evaluation report and contact details should users want to find out more. 

2.3.4    We will be able to continue to populate the Resource Hub with information on the Subject Knowledge Hubs and projects being delivered by teachers accessing the London Teacher Innovation Funding.

2.3.5    The Resource Hub will support the dissemination and embedding of the learning and methodology of these projects in order to improve subject knowledge and pedagogy in London schools.  It will provide a point of contact for interested users to explore the replication, use or discussion of materials in their school or borough. Teachers will be consulted on the content and look and feel of the Resource Hub.

2.3.6    The GLA will look to deliver the Resource Hub using internal resources in the first instance, however, if this is not possible then a procurement will be run for the services and development of the Resource hub in accordance with the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code with the support of TfL Procurement (if necessary). 


Equality comments

3.1    We are proposing to support two Hubs which will support a specific cohort of disadvantaged pupils.  The Fostering Network will provide support for designated teachers across London to improve educational outcomes for looked after children by sharing good practice, increasing peer support and connecting them with foster carers. The Bridge Academy Alternative Provision (TBAP) together with the Innovation Unit will create a specialist cohort hub, focusing on supporting teachers who work with ‘challenging and vulnerable learners’.  These learners exist both in mainstream schools and alternative provision. The focus of the hub will be to initiate a programme of high quality joint practice development within and between schools, building upon the evidence of ‘what works’ for this cohort as well as international examples of advanced practice. 

3.2    Glebe Primary School’s hub will support teachers to become English as an Additional Language (EAL) Champions, leading and facilitating EAL hubs in their local authority, focused on improving EAL learner oracy and literacy skills. 

3.3    Applications from teachers for London Teacher Innovation Fund grants are required to meet the following criteria: ‘Evidence that the project would target children from disadvantaged backgrounds (e.g. Pupil Premium eligibility, Special Educational Needs, English as an Additional Language or other indicators of disadvantage)’.

3.4    The resource hub will include a search function that will help users select information on project’s that have focused on specific pupil cohorts.


Other considerations

Key risks and issues 


Risk description

Mitigation / Risk response








Projects fail to achieve

target outputs set


Active monitoring of project

progress and linking payment to

milestone achievement.




Insufficient number of

teachers apply to the

Teacher Innovation Fund

Staggered approach to grant

application windows with

first tranche being ambassadors for

the scheme; alignment with wider

Let Teacher’s SHINE Awards;

publicity through TES.




Projects with poor sustainability plans.


This was a key part of the

application form and assessment

criteria.  One project milestone will

be submission of a sustainability





Low numbers of users access the LSEF Resource Hub

Plan to launch the hub at 26 Feb

LSEF Conference, the weblink will

be widely distributed through GLA

and E&Y comm channels, and

school networks.




























Links to strategies and Mayoral and corporate priorities

In the published Mayor of London’s Response to the Education Inquiry Panel’s Final Report, the mayor set out that a strong education system is vital to delivering jobs and growth for London. He stated the need to make London state schools be amongst the best in the world if our young people are to grasp new economic opportunities in London and compete with the talent our city attracts from around the globe.

The mayor’s renewed agenda for children and young people (‘Young Londoners – Successful Futures’, 2010) set out the mayor’s wider strategy in this area. This cited a key area of focus as providing young people with the opportunities to make successes of their lives. The strategy highlighted education’s vital role in economic development, wealth creation and social development, from ‘getting schooling right to promoting the high-end skills that are crucial to London’s competitiveness’.

The fund supports the Mayor’s 2020 vision, to make London the best place in the world to work, live, play, study, invest and do business.  The Mayor identified the importance of education and skills in realising his aspiration to lengthen London’s lead as the financial, commercial, cultural, artistic, media, educational, scientific and innovation capital of the world

Impact assessments and consultations

Extensive consultation was conducted during the life of the Education Inquiry on school improvement (and other) themes, which influenced the Panel’s final recommendations. This included a launch symposium, formal call for evidence over two months, workshops and seminars, a survey of 530 London head teachers and meeting with teaching union and association representatives.

In the development of the Fund, consultation with head teachers, teachers, school improvement networks, subject specialists and networks, local authorities has continued to ensure that the Fund takes account of the impact of the Fund on all schools, teachers and pupils.  

Over 1,500 schools have been involved in funded projects and the learning and good practice has been shared even wider.  The expectation is that the learning and knowledge is shared and disseminated widely through the Subject Knowledge Hubs.  Emerging findings from the current LSEF programme have found that improvements in teachers’ subject knowledge has impacted on all pupils that they are teaching, including those from different ethnic groups and those with special educational needs.

Current LSEF projects have feedback that two key elements central to project success are:

  • the development of subject knowledge hubs and networks in enabling (sometimes isolated) teachers to share good practice across schools, deliver subject specific professional development and create and share teaching and curriculum resources alongside subject and business experts.
  • providing schools and teachers with the precious time and space to develop new ideas, innovation and knowledge to give teachers the tools they require to stretch and challenge all of their pupils. 

In January 2015 the GLA hosted a ‘Power of Hubs’ conference,  This event brought together London Teaching Schools along with other schools and LSEF projects using a hub model. The conference focused on exploring the characteristics of effective hub working and their role in sharing evidenced CPD.  Feedback from the event was that hubs are an effective way of disseminating good practice and evidence based practice across a large number of schools.  It was agreed that one of the key success factors was the effective administration of these hubs to enable them to deliver effectively.  Often it was felt that they were under-resourced and whilst schools had the expertise and knowledge required they did not have the capacity to run them effectively.  It was also highlighted that innovation needs to be adequately resourced, teachers need to be given the time away from the classroom to develop new strategies and interventions.  Initial findings from the LSEF independent thematic evaluation (SQW) on projects using a hub model of delivery reinforce these messages.

In October 2015 we held an event with borough Heads of School Improvement (HOSI) to share the learnings from the London School Excellence Fund.  HOSI and LSEF projects are both keen to understand more about what all of the 100+ LSEF projects have achieved and also wanted to share resources with their school networks. Bringing together this information in one place will mean that we can reach the greatest number of teachers and educational users.


Financial comments

5.1       Approval is being sought for additional expenditure of £300k towards a total expenditure of £1,010,000 on the London School Excellence Fund, as detailed below.







Already approved








London Teacher Innovation Fund







London Subject Knowledge Hubs







London Resource Hub















5.2       MD1538 approved £660,000 funding to the London Schools Excellence Legacy Fund and MD1132 approved £50,000 LSEF Legacy Resource Hub from the original London Schools Excellence Fund Budget.

5.3       It is proposed that a further £300,000 of London Schools Excellence Fund budget (as approved under MD 1132) is directed to fund Subject Knowledge Hubs. 


Planned delivery approach and next steps



Grant Agreements issued to Subject Knowledge Hubs

March 2016

Grant Agreement issued to London Teacher Innovation Fund lead organisation

March 2016

Re-assess reserve Hub applications once final LSEF funding position is known

March 2016

LSEF Resource Hub Launched

February 2016

First Teacher Innovation Grants awarded to Teachers

March 2016

Second tranche of Teacher Innovation Grants awarded to Teachers

July 2016

Subject Knowledge Hub delivery completes

August 2017

Teacher Innovation Fund delivery completes

August 2017

Evaluation findings

December 2017

Appendices and supporting papers

Appendix 1: Recommended Subject Knowledge Hubs (see signed decision form)



Share this page