About the Plymouth Strategy

Plymouth’s nineteen secondary schools are working together to improve outcomes for their young people across the city. Working with key partners such as the Teaching School Council, the Education Endowment Fund, Ambitions Leadership, the Local Authority and others, secondary Headteachers and their leadership teams have chosen to take a collaborative and sustainable approach to ensure rapid school improvement.

Plymouth is the lowest performing Local Authority in the South West. For successive years, Plymouth has performed well below national average at KS4. In 2019 Plymouth’s average P8 score was -0.28 compared to a -0.06 for the SW and -0.03 for England. As of 11 February Ofsted, data, only c.50% of secondary provision is Ofsted Good or better (9 out of 19 schools) which places Plymouth significantly below the national average for all secondary schools (76%). The Plymouth secondary sector is largely academized but highly fragmented with SATs and small MATs. 89% (17) of secondary schools are academies but this represents 13 different trusts. 

 The Plymouth commission has been operational since the latter two terms of the 2018/19 academic year. Precise self-evaluation and evidence gathering across a number of schools has resulted in an evidence based diagnostic and identification of themes across and given rise to a secondary school improvement plan (Annex A) that sits across all of the city’s secondary schools. This has the collective buy in from Regional School Commissioner’s Office, the Local Authority and secondary headteachers.  


The Department for Education and Plymouth City Council have invested in the commission for a further financial year (2020/21) with a view that the continued proactive fostering and support for collaborative working amongst key groupings of schools within the city will nurture the benefits of a self-sustaining and improving system. The establishment of the Plymouth Strategy Group is seen as key to ensuring sustainability post the lifetime of the commission. 

Core principles that underpin the commission:

Evidence informed and needs led, being ‘For schools by schools’ so it is both relevant and credible.

Be founded on what has already worked in schools, bringing together the best in school improvement work.

Realistic and flexible recognising the need for agility in responding to collective and individual school needs during this time.

Key Commission Objectives are described in three strands and are “unpacked” in more detail in the Plymouth Secondary Improvement Plan 

Strand 1

Individual School Support 
Partnership Support 
MAT School Improvement Support

Strand 2

An outstanding CPD offer in the city that builds leadership capacity to implement evidence-based school improvement strategies leading to sustainable school improvement. 

Strand 3

To develop and implement a strategy that tackles key barriers to system improvement in Plymouth.

You can view the member schools here.

Strategic Contacts

Tony Bloxham (Plymouth Commission Lead) 
Chrysta Garnett (TSC SW Strategy Lead)