A new wave of research schools

Justine Greening has recently announced a scheme to fund a new series of research schools in social mobility ‘cold spots’, with the aim of raising education standards in disadvantaged areas of the UK.  They will be set up by the government and will join eleven existing research schools in their aim to share evidence-based research in their local areas.

Although teachers are encouraged to use researched-based classroom strategies, most educators lack the time and support necessary to implement such approaches. The purpose of research schools is to lead the way in implementing evidence-based classroom strategies, and then share their experience with other schools. Practices that work are then shared throughout the local area to raise educational standards across the region.

The purpose of research schools is to lead the way in implementing evidence-based classroom strategies, and then share their experience with other schools.

So far, research schools have investigated a range of areas for innovation in education, including how to make the most of teaching assistants and how best to support literacy in primary school. They also host conferences for schools in their area, where they can present their findings and exchange ideas with local education professionals.

“For years, the worlds of education research and classroom teaching have been too far apart. The EEF has been making research more accessible to teachers through our Teaching and Learning Toolkit.” Said Sir Kevin Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation.

“Research schools are breaking down these barriers even more, so that research doesn’t stay in the pages of academic journals but has a real impact on classroom practice. Putting teachers in the driving seat can make all the difference.”

Areas for research schools are normally chosen based on their perceived ‘social stagnation’. That is, research schools are implemented where social mobility is low and schools are therefore in special need of new solutions to problems. The eleven new research schools announced this summer are:

  • Hastings Research School at Ark Blacklands Primary Academy
  • Stoke-on-Trent Research School by The Keele and North Staffordshire Alliance
  • Norwich Research School at Notre Dame High School
  • Oldham Research School by The Greetland Academy
  • Blackpool Research School at St Mary’s Catholic Academy
  • Doncaster Research School by Partners in Learning
  • Scarborough Research School by Esk Valley Alliance
  • Derby Research School at Wyndham Primary
  • West Somerset Research School at The Blue School, Wells
  • Bradford Research School at Dixons Academies
  • East Cambridgeshire and Fenlands Research School at Littleport CP School

Several voices have raised the issue that this new initiative will be overshadowed by the funding cuts to schools in these areas; indeed, although £72 million is being collectively invested in the research initiative, the same schools are expecting to lose £115 million in real term cuts under the current plans for school funding.

The divisions in the UK which have been brought so forcibly to light over the last year or so must be tackled immediately.  Research schools, along with all educational establishments that share their ethos of transmitting the best in educational theory and practice, are certainly one way we can breach this gap.

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