Supporting school improvement in the regions

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.

To achieve this, we are pioneering a new regional approach. Its aim is to provide a sharper, more systematic, approach to engaging and supporting schools, especially those serving areas of disadvantage. 

Its central tenets include:

  • a particular focus on schools with a high proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals and which are most in need of support to raise overall levels of attainment while also closing the gap;
  • the EEF working with schools, local authorities, multi-academy trusts and other intermediaries to support school improvement activity - in particular, making the best possible use of EEF tools, resources, and guidance reports, as well as our Research Schools network's capacity and expertise; 
  • offering practical support to encourage the most disadvantaged schools to engage and take advantage of the support we're making available;
  • aligning with the school improvement efforts and key intermediaries currently working across the English regions to ensure they complement and add value to what is already happening.

Our expanded Research Schools network will help lead this effort. Each Research School will act as a training hub to support near-by schools in understanding the evidence in key areas -- and how it can be used effectively as part of their programme of professional development for teachers and senior leaders. 

Research Schools are ideally placed to understand the challenges of the area they work in. They can also tap in to the key relationships which will help engage more schools to make the most effective possible use of evidence. 

Why this is an EEF priority

The EEF’s key resources, such as our Teaching and Learning Toolkit and Guidance Reports, provide accessible summaries of research for teachers and senior leaders. They are widely read, but we know schools often need support to begin effectively implementing their recommendations.

In 2016, we adopted a strategy of testing more pro-active approaches to scaling evidence. This included: publishing a range of EEF Guidance Reports; two major campaigns to promote effective use of evidence; the launch of our Research Schools Network; and incentivising schools to adopt effective programmes through Excellence Funds

We have learned much along the way, both from our experience as well as the independent evaluations of those endeavours. 

Since September 2018, we have been piloting in two regions, the North West, and the North East, how our work can align with and support regional school improvement priorities, particularly for schools serving the most disadvantaged areas. Early signs demonstrate the demand from schools, local authorities, multi-academy trusts and other intermediaries, to engage with evidence in a more systematic and sustained manner. 

To meet this demand, we are expanding the reach of the Research Schools network to 30 schools and recruiting Regional Leads to coordinate and support evidence-informed school improvement activity.