About Ambition Institute

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What we do

Ambition Institute is a DfE-accredited education charity tackling educational disadvantage through evidence-based professional development for teachers and school leaders.

That’s how we’ll make sure every child gets a great education and the best possible start in life.

  • We train teachers and leaders at all levels to get better at the things that make the biggest difference: what you teach, how you teach it, and how you create the conditions for schools to thrive.
  • We share what works. Everyone can benefit from evidence of how great teaching and leadership can improve schools and change lives, so we connect people to the latest research and the best practice out there in the system.
  • We champion every teacher and school leader’s potential to develop, as the driving force for sustainable school improvement

Our programmes support educators at every stage – from early career teachers through to CEOs leading multiple schools, and all the crucial teaching and leadership roles in between. We also work with schools and groups of schools to support their long-term improvement.

Why we do it

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t do as well as their peers at school. When disadvantaged young children start primary school, they are often over four months behind non-disadvantaged peers. This gap doubles by the time they finish primary school and doubles again by the time they complete secondary school. At this stage, they are over a year and a half behind in terms of their attainment.

Compared to their peers, disadvantaged young people are three times more likely lose opportunities for employment, education or training when they leave school.

We know that improving teaching and school leadership is the best way to address this gap. No other aspects of the school system have as much influence on pupil achievement, particularly the achievement of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ambition Institute has one purpose: to help educators serving children from disadvantaged backgrounds to keep getting better.

Education Policy Institute 2017

Education Policy Institute 2017

We believe that improving teaching and school leadership is the best way to make sure that every pupil, regardless of their background, gets the education they deserve. Through our programmes, we want to ensure there are expert teachers in every classroom being led by exceptional school leaders at all levels. Find out more about our training programmes.

What we believe

We believe that improving teaching and school leadership is the best way to make sure that every pupil, regardless of their background, gets the education they deserve. Through our programmes, we want to ensure there are expert teachers in every classroom being led by exceptional school leaders at all levels.

The research tells us that:

  • Professional development for teachers is proven to support their retention in the sector (Zuccollo & Fletcher-Wood, 2020).
  • This is particularly significant for new teachers. Support significantly increases retention over the first five years of teachers’ careers (Ronfeldt & McQueen, 2017).
  • Throughout a teacher’s career, increased levels of professional development are associated with a reduced desire for teachers to move schools (Sims, 2017).
  • Improving the performance of serving teachers is three times more effective in raising standards than the combined effect of all the attempts to improve teaching through replacement (Sutton Trust, 2011).
  • High-quality CPD for teachers has a significant effect on pupils’ learning outcomes. (Zuccollo & Fletcher-Wood, 2020).
  • Most teachers stop improving after the first five to ten years of their career, but effective professional development can prevent this plateau and enable teachers to continue improving at the same rate (Kraft & Papay, 2014).

And beyond the influence on individuals and their pupils, the impact of professional development can be even greater if whole schools or groups of schools invest in it.

If whole schools and groups of schools consistently employ effective practice, this makes a significant impact on the disadvantage gap. This is because:

  • It leverages peer influence that helps to drive and sustain change (Cialdini, 2007; Grol & Grimshaw, 2003; Sun et al., 2016; Webb & Sheeran, 2006 )
  • It influences systems or structures in a school that otherwise limit the impact on individuals’ practice (Wiggins et al., 2019; Hooley, Dodd and Shepherd, 2016)
  • It shapes the school culture that influences individuals’ behaviour, helping to create the professional environment in which educators develop faster and are more likely to be retained. (Allensworth et al., 2009; Kraft & Papay, 2014; Ladd, 2009)

This is the power of effective professional development.

What difference we make

Our entire organisation is built to support schools serving disadvantaged communities, so we’re tuned into the challenges facing these schools and feed this directly into our programme design. And as a charity, this means we don't make a profit from our work – any surpluses that we generate contribute to either making development programmes more affordable or are invested back into research and programme design.

For 10 years, we’ve been delivering complex professional development programmes at scale. Our 30,000-strong national network is built on responsive collaboration, respect for localised knowledge, and a rigorous approach to quality assurance.

How to work with us

There are two ways to access one of our programmes:

  • You can apply to work with us directly.
  • You can work with our network of exceptional delivery partners.

Whichever route you take, we offer all partners

  • High-quality curriculum and resources, drawing on the latest evidence and the insights of great teachers and school leaders.
  • Experience of providing a high standard of facilitation and programme delivery, grounded in the evidence on effective professional development.
  • A strong track record of responsive partnership work, supporting a range of needs.
  • Rigorous quality assurance, to support you to drive school improvement in your regions.
  • A large-scale, national network, built on localised knowledge and collaboration.
  • Access to Steplab for Early Career Teachers and NPQ participants - the market leading professional development platform, built for teacher education and developed to maximise the impact of deliberate practice.

To find out more about our delivery partners and where they operate, click here.

To learn more about the about the Alliance Partnerships that Ambition had in previous years, click here.