The RISE Project: Evidence-informed school improvement

This project, led by Huntington School, aims to test whether a research-based school improvement model makes a significant difference to classroom practice and student outcomes. Each school in the programme will appoint a ‘research lead’ who will be responsible for implementing the improvement programme in their school, with a particular focus upon improving student attainment in English and Maths at GCSE. The research leads will be supported by a thorough programme of workshops delivered by the team from Huntington School, alongside a collaborative network-based approach to support. The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University will support Huntington to develop and deliver the content of these workshops, and the guidance on designing appropriate, robust, school–led evaluations.The diagram below sets out the school improvement model that Huntington would help schools to implement:

Why are we funding it?

This project represents an opportunity to investigate the feasibility of a sustainable model of research use, with a strong ‘hub’ school leading other schools through a process of school improvement with research at its core. If this project demonstrates a positive impact on research use and pupil attainment, it could be replicated by teaching schools, leading their alliance schools in appraising, implementing and embedding research. Huntington piloted the school-improvement model in 2013 and demonstrated that school-based research, when properly supported, was feasible and valuable. Its own trial focused on testing different approaches to feedback across Year 9 English classes, to identify the impact on learning between teachers providing oral feedback or written feedback on pupils’ work.

How are we evaluating it?

The evaluation will be undertaken by a team from the Institute of Education, led by Meg Wiggins. The trial will be structured as a randomised controlled trial involving 40 secondary schools. 20 treatment schools will appoint a research lead and receive workshops and support from Huntington School. The primary attainment measure will be GCSE results in maths and English, collected in summer 2016 and summer 2017. This will provide a measure of the impact of the programme after one year and two years of delivery. Impact on teachers’ awareness, understanding and use of research, will also be collected through teacher surveys.

The evaluation is set up as an efficacy trial. Efficacy trials aim to test whether an intervention can work under ideal conditions (e.g. when being delivered by the intervention’s original developer) in greater than 10 schools.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Autumn 2017.