Research and Development

The Brooke Weston Teaching School Alliance is currently working on a number of exciting Research and Development projects. Two of the projects detailed below have attracted some funding to help us complete the work.

Summary of the last year

The Alliance Team is continuing its work on developing a culture of enquiry based approaches which are clearly focused on school improvement, encouraging staff from across the TSA to get involved in research and enquiry projects. In the previous academic year enquiry has been more and more merged with the other priorities in the Alliance so that this aspect of joint practice development is more seamlessly approached.

The ongoing work of systematic synthetic phonics

Following the successful trial of the project last year, the SSP project has been offered to available Initial Teacher Training colleagues. This year, one teacher took on the challenge of observing in one of our partner primary schools and has cascaded his learning to other student-teachers at Brooke Weston Academy. He is also using the practices he observed in his own work as an English teacher. The Alliance is looking for this aspect of CPD for new teachers to become embedded in the ITT programme from this year, with time being given for the placement to take place sometime in the spring term.

Working with our NQTs

This year the R&D working group worked collaboratively with our university partners to produce and deliver high quality CPD to two NQT groups, one based in Northamptonshire at Brooke Weston and one based at Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech. Our NQTs went away and conducted some small scale action research projects which helped them in their teaching.

National Project: How Great CPD can lead to Great Pedagogy

This exciting lesson study project, funded by NCTL is now entering the final phase of the action research. Three schools have undertaken a range of different lesson study projects across the two years. This has resulted in a whole range of findings, useful both for the individual teachers in developing their own practice and for senior leadership teams. Some institutional level changes have been made and there is some evidence of the culture of CPD changing across the three schools, with second generation lesson studies occurring in all three, original lesson study triads mentoring new groups and similar forms of action research being cascaded to both trainee teachers and NQTs. Lesson study has been offered as an integral unit in the University of Leicester's new Masters Course - the MA in Education: Learning and Teaching. The final CPD culture surveys have been completed and results are being analysed. Finally, dissemination has been planned from the beginning of the project and in September 2013 the first East Midlands Lesson Study conference was held at Leicester Oadby Conference Centre, where the findings from lesson study projects across the region were reported.

On the 25th September 2014, the East Midlands Cross-Alliance group consisting of Brooke Weston Teaching School Alliance, Affinity and LeTS hosted their second annual Lesson Study Conference at Oadby Conference Centre. Delegates were able to attend key note speeches from Pete Dudley, who considered the title: Professional Learning for our Time and Michael Fielding from the IOE on the topic of student voice. There was also the opportunity to attend a range of workshops presented by colleagues who have been engaged in Lesson Study this year. Finally there was a chance for delegates to engage in a topical debate on whether learning can be observed. A further East Midlands Lesson Study Conference is scheduled for September next year.

The funding period for this project is now ended but we are looking forward to moving forward with Lesson Study from the interest and learning that this fabulous project has generated. Please see the whole two-year project report at the bottom of the page.

The final reports from the NCTL are now available on all three themes of this national project. Whilst our Alliance took part in Theme 2, other Teaching Schools were involved in other Themes. The results of the two year programme of research are highly interesting and really demonstrate that engaging in this sort of active inquiry has some major benefits, both for teachers' CPD and for the students we teach. A big thank you goes to everyone who was involved.

The National 'Closing the Gap' project

The final significant funding the Alliance received was for the Closing the Gap project. Three schools have been involved in this Test and Learn scheme which makes use of randomised control testing across sample groups of students. Two schools were involved in the active part of this scheme in academic year 2013-4, a further school was part of the control group and will be starting the active phase of the project this year. The former have successfully completed the year. Results are currently being examined and the findings will be published across the Alliance as well as nationally with CUREE and the NCTL.

Our focuses for the coming year

The focus of the Research and Development team's work over the coming year will be to oversee and quality assure our research projects and identify further opportunities for enquiry based approaches across the TSA which will lead to shared and improved practice. The small Research and Development working group, has developed a working ethics protocol and shared it with other Alliance partners. The aim is to use this with our research active teachers. The group is also working on a shared teacher research project (called T-Research) in collaboration with the Universities of Derby and Leicester respectively, to engage with teachers' research practices. The aim being to provide support for teachers engaged in action research at all levels. We are currently seeking funding for this project which is likely to culminate in some academic writing opportunities.

Research and Development Group

This group of representatives from the partnerships schools and higher education institutions meets regularly to consider the opportunities for research in our schools. We have already held a successful launch event and some of our current projects include the redrafting of the Teaching School Alliance research ethics policies and Masters level opportunities. We are also considering how we might share information to all our partners and support our colleagues who might be undertaking individual research or study.

If you are interested in getting involved in any of these research projects or would like more information on the projects we are running please contact Angela Brown.

The R and D committee are currently drafting ethics policies for practitioners of school based inquiry to follow. This is a ground-breaking decision to ensure we develop ethical practices and effective dissemination within our Teaching School Alliance.

Further Information

Simon Smith

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