This project aims to test whether a “research champion” working across a group of schools can increase the awareness, understanding and use of research in the classroom. The research champion is a teacher who will work on the project part-time (60% FTE) so that they can continue to teach. They will:
i) organise termly symposia on relevant research findings that explore how research can be used to improve teachers’ practice;
ii) arrange twilight sessions before and after each symposium, where staff are encouraged to reflect on evidence and develop strategies to embed findings from research in their classrooms; and
iii) act as a research broker for staff and senior leaders to ensure that decisions are informed by evidence.
This project is one of several EEF-funded projects that are seeking to improve teachers’ awareness, understanding and use of research. Many schools are still not using evidence to improve teaching or support decision-making. The EEF’s previous research in this area (the Anglican Schools Partnership project) has highlighted the challenges of applying research evidence to the classroom.
This project aims to tackle two of the most commonly cited barriers to research use in schools: insufficient time or capacity to engage with evidence. This project will test whether a school-based research champion can provide the support and structure necessary to enable research to make a difference.
The Research Champion is a clear model which, if shown to be effective, could be replicated in teaching school alliances around the country. There are currently 345 Teaching School Alliances, and this number is set to grow in the near future.
This programme will be evaluated by a team from NatCen. The evaluation will be a formative pilot study, which will assess whether the model is practical and feasible, and examine if there is any indication of an effect on schools’ decisions, teacher behaviour or pupil outcomes. Results from the evaluation will be regularly fed back to the developer to help him improve and refine the intervention. The process evaluation will focus on the six schools involved in the intervention and comprise of interviews with research champions and a range of staff across the school. A small impact evaluation will use a matched design to estimate the impact on key stage 2 and GCSE results after one year, to help inform the design of a larger scale trial if the pilot is successful. Staff’s engagement with research will be measured using a questionnaire survey.