Engaging with evidence has contributed significantly to our school improvement journey. We are very proud of what we have achieved at Alexandra Park and more significantly the impact this has had on the children. We have successfully implemented what the research shows has the most impact and ensured that this matches the needs of our children. We are also extremely proud of the support we have been able to provide to other schools, allowing us to have a wider impact on children across Stockport.
Becoming an Associate Research school allows us to guide, advise and more importantly, empower others and, as a school, we have created a research culture that enables all children and staff to excel. To continually develop, we feel it is crucial for teachers to have ongoing and regular opportunities to learn and, as a school, we regularly participate in activities that promote excellence and best practice. We have been using evidence for a long time to develop our practice and feel privileged to be able to be able to support other schools to ensure all children receive the absolute highest levels of education.
The appetite to understand how education evidence can underpin school improvement is growing. The EEF is committed to ensuring that all schools have access to the resources, training and support they need to improve teaching practice. The Research Schools Network is a collaboration between the EEF and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) to fund a network of schools which supports the use of evidence to improve teaching practice. Launched in 2016, the Network currently numbers 39 schools: 32 Research Schools and 7 Associate Research Schools, with Alexandra Park being one of the recent additions. The Research Schools Network aims to lead the way in the use of evidence-based teaching, building affiliations with large numbers of schools in their region, and supporting the use of evidence at scale.
Research Schools work with the other schools in their areas to help them to make better use of evidence to inform their teaching through:
• encouraging schools to make use of evidence-based programmes and practices through regular communication and events;
• providing training and professional development for senior leaders and teachers on how to improve classroom practice based on the best available evidence; and
• supporting schools to develop innovative ways of improving teaching and learning and provide them with the expertise to evaluate their impact.
Over the last few years, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has developed an approach to evidence-informed school improvement, which treats the school as a continuously improving system. The model aims to frame research evidence in a school’s context, rather than the other way around, integrating the best available external evidence with professional expertise and internal data. At Alexandra Park, we use the EEF implementation cycle as part of our overall approach to evidence-informed school improvement and hope to support others to understand and develop their approach to implementation.