Report: the Role of Research and Development in Teaching Schools

In spring 2016 John Collier took part in a telephone interview to discuss the activities that Britannia Teaching School Alliance were doing in relation to R&D. The interview formed part of a small research study exploring how teaching schools are meeting their responsibility to lead R&D.

The findings have now been published in an NFER report titled Insights into the Role of Research and Development in Teaching Schools.

The report

This report seeks to explore the effectiveness with which teaching schools are delivering their R&D responsibilities.

It provides new insights based on an analysis of a survey of 83 teaching schools and a comparison group of 80 outstanding schools.

The key findings:

  • There is evidence to suggest that R&D is becoming increasingly embedded within the other areas of the big six, and particularly within school-led initial teacher training (ITT) and continuing professional development (CPD).
  • Despite this, many teaching school alliances (TSAs) report that R&D is treated as an ‘add-on’ and is considered less important compared to other concerns.
  • Many TSAs report engaging ‘to a great extent’ in producing evidence-informed outputs and yet do not appear to prioritise the development of their staff’s research literacy to the same degree.
  • There are many challenges facing TSAs in delivering R&D including the long time it can take to show the impact of R&D and the fact there is still a need to build an expectation for teaching as an evidence-based profession.
  • Respondents report that research organisations like NFER can help to overcome some of the challenges identified. This includes the suggestion that research organisations can do more to make the findings from research evidence more accessible to practitioners.
  • There is evidence to suggest that teaching school status does not necessarily enhance an individual teaching school’s level of research activity, as measured by selected R&D indicators, relative to other Ofsted-category outstanding schools.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Teaching Schools Council response

Andrew Warren, Director of BTSA and Chair of the Teaching Schools Council, welcomed the report.

“I welcome this report which looks at the role of R&D in teaching schools. Whilst the sample of teaching schools surveyed represents just over 10% of the actual number, the insights this report highlights are nonetheless important to note.”

“It (research) should inform and challenge how we deliver ITT and CPD programmes; it should inform and challenge how we work with schools at whatever stage of the journey they find themselves. We want to learn from one another; we want to move ‘best practice’ on to ‘next practice’.”

You can read Andrew’s full response here.

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