Collaboration and leadership buy-in key to effective use of research evidence

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: iStock

Inter-school collaboration and strong support from senior leadership are key to developing a culture of research and evidence-based practice, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has said.

Previous EEF research had found that teachers often struggle to interpret and act on research findings in their day-to-day practice.

As such, trials of two programmes have been run as part of a £1.5 million project to improve the link between academic research and classroom practice.

In the first, 10 schools in the Rochdale area worked with the Inspirational Professional Learning Community Network to deliver half-termly training sessions with a “Research into Practice Lead” focusing on specific areas of research.

The schools worked collaboratively to apply specific interventions to real classroom issues, sharing experiences of implementation and impact.

Independent evaluation of the project showed that teachers felt more able to relate research to their own contexts and were more positive about research.

A second trial of a Research Champion programme by the Ashford Teaching Alliance saw a senior teacher become the Research Champion for five schools.

They worked with researchers, teachers and senior leaders to promote engagement with research in a number of different ways: from research symposia and termly “twilight forums” to bespoke research brokerage.

However, in this case the independent evaluation found that time constraints affected teachers’ ability to fully commit to the one-year programme, meaning staff engagement was low. This was related to competing priorities in schools and “varying levels of buy-in from senior leadership teams”.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF – which runs the popular Teaching and Learning Toolkit resource – said: “Teachers and school leaders now have access to a significant and growing body of academic research with enormous potential to improve pupil attainment and save schools money.

“But to do this, we need to make sure that research findings get into the hands of teachers in ways that are most likely to have an impact.

“These two reports tell us just how crucial it is that school leaders are on-board with their staff’s professional development needs, providing time for them to learn more about using research to inform their classroom teaching.”

Also published by the EEF this week are the results of another trial entitled Powerful Learning Conversations.

This took insights from feedback in sports coaching and applied them to English and maths teaching at key stage 3. The evaluation found some positive impact on maths outcomes, but none in English.

To access the Teaching and Learning Toolkit and to download the latest research evidence reports, visit www.educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk


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