SKEIN Momentum is a diagnostic and Enquire Nowdevelopment process which enables schools where progress has stalled to gain or regain momentum. Delivered by a partnership of CUREE and ASCL, it identifies several key building blocks to help school leaders ensure that all the core activities in their schools are working together and heading in the right direction.

Who is it for?

SKEIN Momentum is specially designed for schools where progress may have stalled and where there is a desire to employ an innovative approach to fast-track progress and gain, or regain, momentum.

It will set out practical actions and the techniques to implement them plus milestones for monitoring and refining leadership at every level.

SKEIN Momentum works for primary and secondary schools and is especially useful for small to medium multi-academy trusts.

How does it work?

A dedicated, expert research team will analyse your existing data and school documents whilst gathering evidence from the school community via student surveys, school visits and discussions.

Capacity for and ownership of progress within your staff team is built through developmental focus groups designed to minimise disruption to your timetable.

You’ll receive a personalised profile against recognised benchmarks plus a practical set of recommendations unique to your school based on the research and diagnostic undertaken.

Support for leadership enquiries will help you to fine tune and implement your action plan, and a concise progress review will help you to evolve your plan to generate increased momentum.

Why is it different?

SKEIN Momentum uses high quality research tools and internationally recognised evidence about the accelerators for school improvement and the barriers to progression.

Your diagnostic will be delivered through a partnership between consultants from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the research team at the internationally renowned Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE).

They have realistic, credible experience of the issues facing leadership teams and provide constructive support including helping you to triage emerging issues.

CUREE’s quality assurance processes which underpin SKEIN Momentum provide a rigorous diagnostic and action plan which focusses on what will make the most difference for your specific school.

The entire process is driven by generating outcomes that you can actually implement to create a pathway towards providing exceptional learning experiences and results.

Does it work?

Take a look at what Halifax Academy said about their SKEIN Momentum experience.

“The report and support for action research was the best school improvement support we’ve ever had – so much more practical and strategic than ‘mocksted’ and one-off consultancy. Our school is now so much further forward it is barely recognisable”

I want to know more!

You can read the Teach First report, Gaining and Sustaining Momentum: Accelerating progress in schools, on the CUREE website.

A trio of case studies from the Gaining and Sustaining Momentum report characterise the levels of momentum described in the report. These are Island School (seeking momentum), Forest School (approaching momentum) and River School (gaining momentum).

For any specific queries, or to find out how SKEIN Momentum could help your school, email Gillian Sheail at or call on 024 7652 4036.

Frequently asked questions

How much of my time as a head/senior leader will be taken up?

We understand that your time is very precious and endeavour to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible. We will use documents that already exist within your school, so you will not have to create any paperwork. We will send links and instructions for completing the survey as an email that simply needs to be circulated. During the visit we will mainly work with other colleagues but do ask you to participate in an interview of approximately one hour. Schools find that participation in the interview is a valuable way of supporting you and your SLT to reflect on key aspects of your school improvement practices.

We recommend that you involve emerging leaders/ administrative colleagues in e.g. assembling the documents and preparing a schedule for the visit day.

What documents do I have to prepare?


We will use documents that are already in existence within the school. We will send some clear guidance about what we need so all the documents will be easy to assemble. Schools often find it valuable to involve an emerging leader/ administrative colleague in compiling the information.

How long does the whole process take?

The overall process tends to take about 7 weeks.

We try to allow for around 3 weeks before the visit to collect and analyse school documentation, agree the schedule for the visit and provide pupils with an opportunity to respond to our on-line survey. After the visit, it takes us 3-4 weeks to analyse the data and prepare the draft report which is then sent to the school leadership team for validation. Where schools wish to proceed faster than this in order to align SKEIN Momentum with their timelines for strategic planning and development we will always try to accommodate.

Why should I choose Skein Momentum over other evaluation services?

Unlike (superficially) similar services, Skein Momentum;

  • is rooted in international evidence about effective school improvement that is associated with accelerated pupil progress;
  • is NOT simply a validated self-assessment. The assessment is undertaken by trained experts using benchmarks derived from research;
  • does not make the school do all the work, fill out any forms or provide standard answers to questions;
  • builds capacity in the client school and leaves them with additional capabilities and resources; and
  • includes follow up support in driving forwards developments from highly skilled and knowledgeable consultants.

Do you monitor us to see if improvements have been made?

Schools that take part in the leadership enquiry will be supported in making improvements and collecting evidence of impact. We also offer a follow-up service, which involves us visiting the school after two and a half terms to track your progress and offer advice.

Will the outcomes of your work with us remain confidential to us?

Each SKEIN Momentum school receives its own report which is fully confidential to them. It’s up to each school to decide whether and how they want to share the findings internally or otherwise. For example some school leaders chose to share excerpts from their report or report summaries with their staff while others just use them to inform their organisation’s strategic development. Some schools use their reports during Ofsted visits; others publish a sentence or two about their particular strengths on their website or other marketing materials or e.g. when recruiting new staff.

You claim that the service is rooted in the evidence about effective school improvement. What is this evidence?

The service is based on research that was carried out with Teach First. You can read one of the reports highlighting the evidence here.

How does SKEIN Momentum relate to OfSTED?

SKEIN momentum is not simply a mock Ofsted but it does support schools in fulfilling Ofsted expectations. The service focuses on enabling schools to increase their capacity to accelerate school improvement leading to improved pupil outcomes. Skein Momentum give schools practical strategies to move forwards which align with Ofsted. 

How does SKEIN Momentum relate to the Professional Standard in CPD?

Skein Momentum is fully aligned with the Professional Standard, and CUREE’s CEO Philippa Cordingley is a key member of the expert panel that developed the Standard.

The process includes consideration of your school’s professional development environment so giving you an insight into how CPDL (continuing professional development and learning) can be further strengthened. This will help you use the Standard to support your school improvement.

Schools that take part in the leadership enquiry will benefit from ongoing support that is in line with the Standard’s expectations of providers. 

How much does it cost for schools?

The full price is £4,350 which includes the full evaluation and a developmental feedback meeting to support you in making use of your report. 

We highly recommend that you take part in our supported leadership enquiry process which empowers you to carry out action planning, implement developments and develop leadership capacity and is available at additional cost.

How much time do you need to spend in school and how many students, members of staff will be involved?

Prior to the visit we will send you a link to an online survey and ideally this will be completed by all students. Many schools find it helpful to assign a designated slot e.g. part of an ICT lesson for students to complete the questions.

We will need to visit the school for up to a day. We will do whatever we can to fit in with your timetable to carry out the following activities:

  • meeting with the SLT (for 1 hour)
  • holding individual interviews with 4 colleagues (each interview 30 minutes)
  • carrying out an interactive and developmental focus group with 6-10 colleagues (1 hour)
  • observing any other teaching and learning/CPD activities as appropriate. This might include sitting in on a CPD session, observing a SLT meeting or doing a learning walk.