I have been a teacher for 25 years, a Headteacher for 10 years and, at the age of 49, this much I know about working out what works: researchED 2013.
I value authenticity, hence the title of our presentation, Leading Edge, my ar*e. As a Leading Edge school we were asked a couple of times to showcase our practice, but I used to feel uncomfortable about it. Remember those early autumn Leading Edge conferences at the Euston Hilton hotel, all expenses paid? Sir Clive Woodward spoke at one of them. How much must they have cost?
Less is more is one of my core messages about education. I’m so sure of that mantra’s veracity, yet Alex and I ran out of time on Saturday! Our argument was one of two halves; how we learnt from our mistakes as a school and then how we undertook a highly focused piece of research – a matched trial into the benefits of 1:1 oral feedback to students studying English in Year 9. Click below for our presentation if you missed it.
From chaos will emerge order. I loved the diverse nature of the debate at researchED 2013 and meeting all the great virtual colleagues suddenly made flesh! As I went from discussion to discussion I became less sure about what I thought about whether teachers should undertake research in schools. What I am certain about is that the EEF’s DIY Evaluation Guide (available below) is a priceless bit of kit for any Headteacher wanting to develop research in his or her school. We’re going to work with the EEF to see if we can weave the guide’s principles into whole school improvement processes.
Research is an intimidating term for time-pushed teachers. Certainly, the intricacies of our research project outlined by Alex Quigley illustrated just how much care is required to undertake a simple piece of research into pedagogy. What we need to prevent is teachers taking the Jim Royle view of research in schools…
Jim Royle: Research, my ar*e…
If we are going to engage in authentic research in schools then we have to change our structures; it’s not impossible to do, if it is what we want to do. This was the heart of our message, encapsulated best in our final slide (which you might have missed because we thought more was more...).
Can you measure improvements in students’ attitudes? Our major focus over the next three years is developing a Dweck-style growth mindset in our students. Conversations at researchED 2013, Tom’s book and the support of Dr Jonathan Sharples mean our plans for measuring the impact of our efforts upon our students’ outcomes are much more sophisticated than we could have dreamed of a year ago. Tom and Helene – great job!