Last Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Families of Self Improving Schools in North Lanarkshire

What is this?

​​This exemplar describes how North Lanarkshire have created families of schools to encourage headteachers to work collegiately on school improvement.

Who is this for?

​This exemplar will be useful to practitioners, school leaders and local authority staff.

​How to use this exemplar to improve practice

This exemplar may provide some ideas on how collegiate working can lead to improvement across schools.

Improvement questions

  • How effective are we at ensuring an inward, outward and forward focus in our evaluation and improvement activities?
  • What range of data and information do we utilise to understand the social, economic and cultural context of the local community?
  • How well do we create collaborative conditions for staff to learn with and from others through critical enquiry? Are we maximising all opportunities available to support peer collaborative learning?


PDF file: Developing a self-improving school system in North Lanarkshire (491 KB)

Word file: Family Groups 2016/17 Guidelines (252 KB)

PDF file: Family Group Meetings/Learning Walks (241 KB)

Word file: Mind the Gap - Impacting attainment through data analysis (546 KB)

What was done?

Schools within North Lanarkshire have been arranged into 'family groups' according to their size and Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) profiles allowing schools with similar contexts to work together to bring about improvement. During the first year of implementation headteachers in each family group met at least once a term to share practice and plan for improvement.

As the programme embeds, the family groups are providing a useful context for staff at all levels to work together with colleagues to improve practice.

Now in its second year the family groups are using attainment data as a key tool in their self-evaluation discussions with each other. A helpful document 'Mind the Gap' has been produced to support them in these discussions to ensure they remain focused on delivering excellence and equity. (See Mind the Gap document)


North Lanarkshire was keen to create a structure where schools could learn from each other. They believed that such a system would establish a high level of accountability and offer mutual support between establishments. Encouraging all schools to look outwards as well as inwards when self-evaluating and planning for improvement is key to ensuring good practice is shared and there are no islands of excellence.

What was the impact?

Very positive feedback continues to be received from almost all family groups. Headteachers have spoken of the value of networking with schools with a similar profile and appreciate the focus on schools being empowered to support and challenge one another and find solutions which meet their specific context.