The Ashford Teaching Alliance (ATA) Research Champion project (‘the programme’) was a pilot intervention aimed at developing teaching expertise and practice by promoting the use of educational research in decision-making and teacher practice. The programme ran for one academic year (2014−2015) in five schools within the ATA. Delivery was led by a ‘Research Champion’, a senior teacher based at one of the schools who worked with research leads, other teachers, and senior leaders to promote engagement with research evidence. The programme had four key components: ‘audits’ of needs and research interests for individual schools; a series of research symposia for teachers; termly research and development ‘twilight forums’ (events held at the end of the school day at one of the participating schools); and bespoke research brokerage.
The principal objective of this pilot study was to explore whether, and to what extent, research communication and engagement strategies had the potential to improve teachers’ use of, and attitudes towards, academic research to support pupils’ progress. The project was funded through the EEF Research Use in Schools grants round which supported studies to test ways of increasing the impact of educational research in schools. It was jointly funded by the EEF, the Department for Education and the Mayor’s London Schools Excellence Fund.