Research led by schools 

At last we are seeing an emphasis on research coming out of the profession for use by the profession.  It is the practising teachers after all who know what works and what is worth trying as well as what needs to go!

The TES this week had a double spread on the excellent Primary Space Camps initiated by Amanda Poole at Shrubland Street Primary School.  Goodness knows we need to inspire young scientists so they go on to further their interest in STEM careers.  Then there is the astonishing success of Hegarty Maths the brain child of Colin Hegarty an advanced skills teacher who has put his lessons on line and flipped his teaching to great success.

The idea of schools being research bodies is not new but has been very slow catching taking hold.  The original 15 City Technology Colleges (CTCs ) were each given a research and development brief as part of their remit in 1990.  We tried and tested a variety of initiatives from no staff rooms to 1 hour lessons.   At Haberdashers’  one initiative was to encourage staff to write up their ideas in brief research papers which we published internally;  among these were ‘all through schools’ (unique in the state sector at that time) and ‘diamond schools’ a structure which served us well but seems more common in the private sector now. We also had termly lunches with teachers in their first 5 years of teaching where they could propose initiatives and be given the authority to try them out, one was to do away with nightly HW as we knew it then and replace with weekly projects. 

The Education Endowment Foundation( EEF) grants programme seeks to encourage research projects for its target audience of Pupil Premium children led by schools perhaps in conjunction with HIgher Education.  The EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit comes highly recommended.  There are initiatives there to develop further.  The idea of having a Research Lead in schools is explored in the TES this week. Then there is the notion of a Think Tank in schools coming forward not just with ideas as the Student Council might do but with data to back it up. 

The problem is time I know but busy people do find time.  I believe we need to free up teachers to think and develop their ideas and their enthusiasm will carry them and their projects through.  Children’s success and enthusiasm is a marvellous motivator.  Our profession must be one constantly reviewing and renewing how we teach and how we can do that even better.  My heroes are people like Hegarty and Poole. Let’s encourage more of them.

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