Projects and Services

The trademark of the SDSA’s approach is our conviction that the solutions to most improvement challenges are to be found in schools, close to the ‘front line’. We believe that what the system needs to improve are facilities that enable the effective practice to be shared. The SDSA is therefore proud of its role as a facilitative organisation supporting colleagues in well-organised activities to collaborate around a clearly articulated common purpose to address priority needs.

360° Assessment Tool

Our brand new online tool offers a simple, clear and fast way to generate a 360° report which assesses your abilities based on professional standards. The tool was designed to suit the needs of many of our of development programmes (e.g. the Clerks Development Programme, aspire2leadership, Leicestershire Leaders), as well for use as a standalone service for education providers.

WebsiteMital Ladwa/Harriet Veale

Academic Coaching

Academic Coaching is a local, Leicester developed programme that provides a small amount of regular, weekly 1 to 1 support for vulnerable Year 6 learners. The programme blends maths and English learning support, self-esteem coaching and help with learning to learn strategies. The programme provides pupils with a revised workbook and teachers/coaches with revised training sessions which are both in line with the new curriculum.

Becky Smith

Assessment and Moderation Strategic Group

The SDSA provide a clerk for Leicester City Council’s Assessment and Moderation Strategic Group.

The Choice Advice Service (CAS) Leicester is an independent service that offers free, confidential and impartial information about the admissions process, supports parents and carers to complete the application process and provides information and advice on the appeals process.



Clerks Programme Sector-led programme of development for governing body clerks, by the Teaching Schools Alliances (TSAs) of the East Midlands & South Yorkshire Humber (EMSYH) region. The Programme, specifically draws on the Clerking Competency Framework (DfE, April 2017), and is aimed at all clerks within governing bodies who wish to develop and enhance their skills and support growth and development of the wider board or trust.

WebsiteEmma Sheasby/Sonia Dayal

Funded by Leicester’s maintained primary schools, Closing the Gap is a programme of projects and initiatives which aim to address city-wide priorities identified by school leaders, develop and maintain long-term, city-wide activity which contributes to improving pupil outcomes and ensure de-delegated funding is used effectively, where it is needed most

WebsiteKate Drurey


The SDSA has been appointed to fulfil a facilitation and co-ordination role in Derby for much of the Opportunity Area programmes that is underway there. The SDSA supports the strategic leadership groups in the primary, secondary and post-16 sectors, providing extra capacity to share and develop the ideas of schools and colleges into programme proposals that attract the support of the OA Board and DfE. The SDSA also supports elements of programme delivery to ensure outcomes are achieved.

Derby NQT Pool

Trainee primary teachers seeking their first job are invited to apply to this ‘pool’. Having successfully completed the application and interview process, candidates’ details will be made available to schools via the Derby NQT pool website. Schools will then contact candidates directly to ask them consider their vacancy, and will be able to fast-track them to final school-based interviews. The Derby NQT pool web directory is maintained by the SDSA.

WebsiteDaniel Routledge

SDSA has provided co-ordination and business partner support to the East of England Teaching Schools for several years. Working closely with the TSC reps and Local Leads in the region our work has included: co-ordination of the School Improvement Offer, regional peer review for teaching schools, joint approach to training and designating SLEs, supporting NLG deployment, writing the regional update newsletter, delivering DfE commissions and supporting the regional conference. Our work has involved project management, recruitment, bidding, reporting, managing finance, event management and communications with schools.

WebsiteMark Lambell

Like the East of England Support to Teaching Schools, SDSA also acts as the Business Support Partner to the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Humber Teaching Schools. Working closely with the TSC Representatives and appointed Sub Regional Leads, our work involves, supporting the delivery of DfE/TSC commissions including the co-ordination of the School Improvement Offer, regional peer review for teaching schools, writing and circulating a weekly e-bulletin, managing a regional portal and supporting regional conferences. Our work also involves project management, recruitment, bidding, reporting, managing finance, event management and communications with schools. Please visit to find out more.

WebsiteBecky Smith

As part of an 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.

WebsiteBecky Smith


SDSA provides business support to the Eastern Region Co-ordinators of Governor Services. Our work includes invoicing member LAs for their subscription, paying for meeting venues and events, and maintaining membership of NCOGS (National Co-ordinators of Governor Services).

The Healthy Schools Network was set up in October 2016, as a response to demand expressed in the April 2016 survey of schools. The Network is designed to offer school-to-school support for this vital aspect of the wider curriculum and the arrangements, in Leicester, are now school-funded. The Network consists of Health and Wellbeing Champions’ Conferences and Network Meetings.

WebsiteRebecca Partington

Leadership Programmes

The SDSA has worked with a range of clients, including Teaching Schools and Multi Academy Trusts to develop and deliver bespoke leadership programmes for identified cohorts. The programmes typically blend a range of elements over a period of months, usually starting with participant evaluation against a selected leadership standard. SDSA provides end-to-end support, starting with the clients ideas and specification to co-design and construct a tailored programme. Our on-going role supports all aspects of event management, participant communication, session facilitation, always delivery high quality and exceptional value.

The Leicestershire Leaders network has been formed by Thomas Estley Academy to support headteachers across Leicester and Leicestershire. Their website is maintained by the SDSA to promote their workshops and also to host a 360° evaluation tool where leaders can assess themselves and generate reports based on National Professional Qualification (NPQ) standards.

WebsitePete Sloan

The LPP supports effective collaboration between primary schools to support a collective responsibility for all the outcomes of primary children of Leicester City. The partnership takes a lead on School Improvement projects at City and Development Group (Cluster) level. LPP works closely with other partners to ensure effective provision across the city and across the different phases of education, including with the Education and Children’s Services Department. The SDSA was commissioned to design, build and maintain the LPP website.

WebsiteJo Holland

The overall purpose of this project is to support an identified set of vulnerable young people from challenging, deprived backgrounds. The key aims are to set them on a pathway to education and employment by raising their aspirations and improving their chances of becoming successful, resilient individuals.

Nicole Dishington

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

WebsiteKate Drurey

Project READ was an innovative programme designed to improve pupils’ reading outcomes from EYFS to Year 6 for 43 eligible Derbyshire schools (SSIF round 2 project), coordinated by the SDSA. Project READ provided a balanced approach to support reading and language development through a number of key complementary elements.

WebsiteHayley Carter

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.

WebsiteNicky Gale/Rebecca Partington

School Council Training

School Council Training tailored to primary and secondary pupils, delivered in school, is available. It is most appropriate for newly appointed School Council members to help them understand their role but the training can be tailored to meet needs.

Leicester and Leicestershire SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training), partnered with a University of Leicester PGCE, offer outstanding School Direct primary teacher training. They are the top primary provider in the East Midlands and work very closely with over 70 of the best schools across Leicestershire. The SDSA were commissioned to design, build and maintain the Leicester and Leicestershire SCITT website.

WebsiteMital Ladwa/Harriet Veale

The SDSA has provided partnership and project management since 2005 for a regional approach to sector-led improvement in children’s service, supporting the nine Local Authorities in the East Midlands. Within this programme the LAs collaborate through a series of strategic networks for directors and key senior leaders, some robust peer challenge processes and range of seminars, leadership programmes and improvement projects. The current framework that defines this sector-led approach is a Regional Improvement Alliance.

WebsiteKhalid Mahmood

SENDIASS Leicester offers free, confidential and impartial information, advice and support to parents and carers of young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) as well as young people themselves.


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.

WebsiteHayley Carter

Teach Leics is a network of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers from across Leicester and Leicestershire working collaboratively to promote our Leicester region as the place to start a teaching career. They work together on three joint recruitment events per year, they have developed an informative and interactive website to explain the various routes into teaching and enable visitors to search for their nearest training provider, and a series of promotional films, which you can watch on the ‘Be Inspire’ page of the website. The group meet four times a year as a network to discuss their work, share good practice and discuss current topics.

WebsiteNicole Dishington

The SDSA maintains the TSCouncil website and the innovative Women Leading in Education (WLE) National Coaching Pledge service. The SDSA also manages the National Communications contract for TSCouncil and produces their social media and promotional material.

WebsiteDaniel Routledge

VESA works with schools, colleges, learning providers and other partner organisations across Leicester and Leicestershire to offer Future Pathways vocational provision courses for pre-16 students. As part of this, we also manage the internet based register programme, Collaborative Learning Manager (CLM) which is used by schools and training providers to track attendance and achievement of students who attend off-site provisions. We also work with AIM Awards and a number of schools, special schools and individual providers to help the support each other and offer an internal verification service for qualification claims.

Sonia Dayal

Whatever It Takes

Whatever it Takes (WiT) is the Leicester city-wide reading initiative to get every child in Leicester reading. The initiative is a collaborative approach to tackling low literacy levels across the city and is dedicated to ensuring that as a city we are reading for pleasure.

WebsiteKate Drurey/Nicky Gale