We need to shift the drivers of better schooling from high stakes top-down accountability to a system which empowers schools and teachers to innovate and improve.

Policymakers in recent decades have pursued a top-down approach to improving public services. This was broadly inspired by new public management (NPM), a theory of public sector reform which argued that the absence of market forces in public services meant they suffered from weak incentives to innovate and improve.

In schooling, the NPM approach has largely manifested through the use of Ofsted as the schools’ inspectorate, combined with high-stakes, top-down, and often punitive, regulation from the Department for Education, and the use of choice and competition through league tables.

This report provides a road map to an alternative, setting out how ‘improvement through empowerment’ – of both teachers and schools, can drive excellence in education.