The School Development Support Agency (SDSA) has existed and developed as a not-for-profit organisation supporting schools and children’s services for 20 years. In the current landscape we are now finding that our contribution to supporting the school-led improvement system is more relevant than ever before.

The SDSA has a proven track record of contributing to positive outcomes for children and young people. We support individual or groups of schools to work collaboratively, building professional partnerships leading to sustainable improvement.

Read more about what we do

Some of our recent projects

  • pdnet is a free to join, national network that provides professionals in education with support in promoting positive outcomes for children and young people with physical disability

  • As part of a Derby Opportunity Area funded project the SDSA were commissioned to build a web portal to support the roll out of mental health and well-being training in schools across Derby. The portal will be developed to provide schools with an online one-stop shop for all aspects of mental health support and the existing Special School Mental Health Leads Network will develop and produce specific materials to support schools working with families, where there are special educational needs and mental health support needs.

  • TALK Derby is a Government-funded project to help local children develop the speech, language and communication skills they need to succeed in life. The project aims to raise awareness of the importance of speech, language and communication development in children and young people, and provides practical support for it.

  • Reading Rampage, a challenge for secondary school pupils in participating Leicester schools, is co-ordinated by Whatever it Takes (WiT), Leicester libraries, Creative Learning Services and the School Development Support Agency (SDSA) and supported by the Leicester City Education Improvement Partnership (EIP). The project aims to inspire, motivate and develop students aged 11 – 13 to become active readers, encourage reading for pleasure and to promote awareness of new titles and authors. Visit the Reading Rampage website here.

The SDSA has a core team with a wide range of experience and expertise who provide a high-quality service. We pride ourselves on our affordability, flexibility and quality of delivery.

Project Manager - Insight Analysis

Data collection



Basketball guru

Business Development Manager

Teaching Schools Council


Big fan of Grease the musical

Project Manager

PDNet – supporting a network that promotes positive outcomes for learners with a physical disability

Clerks' Development Programme – Coordinating development programmes to both new and experienced Clerks regionally

Healthy Schools Network – a network to support a Whole School Approach for health and wellbeing to schools in Leicester

Dance superstar

Project Manager - Web



Talented musician

Project Manager

Co-ordinating a DfE Early Outcomes Fund project in Leicester, Derby and Nottingham

Working with partners to help deliver TALK Derby

Co-ordinated Project READ

Lifestyle guru

Project Manager

PDNet – supporting a network that promotes positive outcomes for learners with a physical disability

Project Manager - International

Regional Innovation and Improvement Alliance, Sector-led Improvement

Erasmus Project – CANDIICE

International Study Visits

Assistant Director

East of England Teaching Schools


Paramotor Pilot and Gold Panner

Project Manager

Student Mentor

Internal Verifier (AIM Awards)

ITT Network project co-ordinator

Dog lover!

Pete C

Leads the SDSA

Develops bespoke school improvement projects and co-ordinates major contract with MATs, LAs, DfE, including Opportunity Areas (Derby and Doncaster)

Co-ordinates the Regional Improvement and Innovation Alliance for sector-led improvement in children's services in the East Midlands.

Supports the Regional Education Summit

Pete S
School Strategy Manager

Supporting and co-ordinating primary, secondary and post-16 projects within the Derby Opportunity Area

Co-ordinating and delivering bespoke maths support to individual schools or clusters, including Maths Hub initiatives within and across the East Midlands

Strand lead for Leicester's Closing the Gap primary schools CPD offer

Project Manager


Clerks programme

Project Manager

Reading Rampage

Pathways to Education

Whatever It Takes

Project Manager - Web

Full stack developer


Trainee musician

What our clients say


    “We are now in our third year of working with the SDSA to co-ordinate our citywide plan to improve EAL achievement. From the outset they have worked with us to build leadership capacity within schools through the highest quality CPD. They have supported the development of new EAL SLEs and helped us to embed sustainability through professional learning networks and school-to-school support.”


    “For several years we have been delivering regional leadership development programmes for those progressing towards headship. As part of the SDSA package of support they have supported every participant to complete self- and peer 360˚ evaluation against the programme standards and receive individual feedback. We are always impressed by the great value and personalised support that the SDSA provides.”

    East Midlands Teaching Schools

    “We were looking for a tailored leadership programme for the 40 most senior leaders within our academy schools. The SDSA started by creating our own leadership standard to reflect the character and ambition of the trust and then built and delivered a bespoke programme for us that responded directly to the analysis that this generated. We can’t speak highly enough of the SDSA’s readiness to listen to our needs and add value to what we have achieved.”


    “The SDSA has provided several years of support to the primary schools in Derby as we have developed our citywide improvement strategy. They have created school-by-school analysis that has enabled us to map priorities and identify the schools in need of support and those able to offer it. Being a designated Opportunity Area has brought additional DfE scrutiny and the SDSA’s facilitation has been essential.”

    Derby Primary Strategy Group

    “We funded the SDSA to develop a school leadership programme for mental health, based on their analysis of unmet need and growing demand within the education sector. They delivered a complex national contract well, creating and piloting a high quality, strongly-evaluated programme and rolled it out nationally to almost 1000 schools through a cascade model.”

    Health Education England

    “We appointed the SDSA to provide co-ordination across our Opportunity Area initiative in Derby. Their intelligent and dynamic delivery has continually responded to the needs and aspirations of school leaders to construct robust and imaginative plans. This not only attracts the inward investment of central government but is also achieving tangible impacts for Derby’s children.”

    Derby Opportunity Area

    “The SDSA worked with eight partnerships to submit applications to the Strategic School Improvement Fund. Their success rate of 75% compared favourably with the national average below 30%. This success, in large part, was due to SDSA’s ability to engage with the sector and articulate complex plans in an accessible format. As a result, substantial improvement projects have been delivered in Leicester, Derby, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.”

    Derby Opportunity Area

    “The project management of the SDSA was fundamental to the success of Project READ in Derbyshire schools. Their end-to-end support from the preapplication stage right through to final evaluation provided our partnership with the capacity we required to provide training, organise inspirational activities and deliver in-school initiatives that have made such a positive difference so many vulnerable readers.”


    “At a point when we were struggling to find exactly the support we needed , we were delighted to discover the SDSA’s bespoke approach. The in-school package of training and support that they co-produced and delivered with us not only significantly improved the quality of our maths teaching but also led to major gains in pupil outcomes.”