This NAO report (HCP 822, session 2008-09, ISBN 9780102955064) evaluates the extent and nature of partnering in secondary schools, and assesses its impact on the attainment and behaviour of 11-14 year olds. The NAO states that the Department for Children, Schools and Families is achieving its aim of promoting partnering in secondary education in England. Some 87% of schools work with other schools and organisations on improving attainment and behaviour - and headteachers are clear that partnering is delivering very substantial benefits that support school improvement. But partnering has yet to realise its full potential. It is difficult to demonstrate a direct, quantifiable impact of partnering but the NAO does find evidence that partnering has wider benefits. Headteachers told the NAO that partnerships are a valuable tool for improving standards and that they had positive outcomes beyond the impact on pupils' test results, such as sharing resources, energizing teachers and broadening the curriculum.The NAO also states that, at local level, there is greater scope to evaluate the costs and benefits of individual partnerships. Without such evaluation, there is a risk that some partnerships will continue while the costs outweigh the benefits. Further, that partnerships should have the freedom to tailor the form and management of partnerships to fit their local circumstances. Isolating the specific costs of partnering is difficult, but the NAO estimates that in 2007-08 the Department spent at least £400 million on initiatives that feature partnering.This is around 2.5 per cent of the amount spent nationally on secondary education.
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