Introduction from Martin Smith, Director of Exeter TSA, and Consultation of Group Structure

Tuesday 3rd October 2017


Dear Colleagues

I hope the start to the new academic year has gone smoothly for colleagues.

May I start by introducing myself: I have been seconded to the position of Director of the Exeter TSA (0.2FTE) for 2017-2018. I am excited by this opportunity to work alongside schools in Exeter and be part of the Exeter Consortium and TSA team. My background is education; I have been a secondary head for 8 years and since April 2016, I have led the Dartmoor TSA, a cross-phase alliance serving schools across Devon, Plymouth and Cornwall. I am passionate about education and the potential of the school-led system to improve outcomes for all children, regardless of their background, their phase of education or the school they attend.

First impressions

The Exeter Consortium and Teaching School Alliance (ECTSA) is a strong organisation that makes a significant contribution to education in Exeter. ECTSA has developed a wide range of services for schools and has been effectively bringing schools together to collaborate and learn in partnership for many years. The team – now based at West Exe – are highly motivated, capable and focused on serving schools’ needs.  The role I have been given is to further develop ECTSA so that there is greater clarity about its purpose, greater opportunities for all schools to get involved and to streamline the way it works to maximise the use of members’ time (and resources).

What is my vision?

Firstly, I would like to propose a clear statement about the relationship between Exeter Teaching School Alliance and Exeter Consortium. In my view, Exeter TSA is mandated by the National College for Teaching and Leadership to lead on school improvement, leadership and ITT/Professional Development programmes. Exeter Consortium provides high quality delivery of these (and other) services in a way that is ethical, sustainable and built around school interests. I think there is strength and clarity in this model: leadership + core business combined with management + value for money.

Secondly, I would like to ensure ECTSA Partnership meetings become ‘must attend’ events for heads, teachers and school staff. I would like to promote a meeting model that focuses on core business (school improvement, leadership and ITT / Professional Development programme) and includes pacey agendas delivered by school-based leaders with a track record of making a significant impact.

Thirdly, we focus on evidence-based approaches to matters of core business. By sharing our performance data we identify within ECTSA leaders that have a proven track record of making an impact. In addition, we draw on the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) and similar organisations to identify with confidence what works and what does not and support member schools to engage to small-scale evaluations of these innovations. We aim to create a culture in schools where secure evaluations of interventions and approaches are routinely undertaken and outcomes shared effectively.

Lastly, collaboration is the key to developing a mature, school-led system. My aim is to promote school-to-school, MAT-to-MAT, TSA-to-TSA working so that we maximise the impact on children’s experience in all our schools.  


Consultation on adjusting the group structure of ECTSA

I recently shared a draft paper on proposed changes to the leadership and governance structure for ECTSA. We would like now to open this up for consultation with member schools.

The key features of these proposals are:

  • Clear remit for each group, covering all the main areas of ECTSA
  • Smaller membership to allow more strategic working 
  • A Partnership Meeting that focuses on core business and replaces Headteacher TSA group

Click here to read the consultation paper. You can participate in the consultation in a number of ways:

  1. Click on following link to access short feedback form:
  2. Contact me directly via mobile (07786523276) or email (

The deadline for responses is Monday 6th November. All responses will be shared with the Management Board that meets on 15th November. There will also be an open discussion about the proposals at the Partnership Meeting on 15th November.

Subject to feedback from members, we will aim to introduce new groups from January 2018.

Finally, I am in the process of visiting heads across the city and thank those who have kindly agreed to host a visit from me. If you would like me to come to your school for any reason please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Thanks in advance for your support.


Martin Smith

Director of Exeter TSA