Kingsbridge Research School
The Education Endowment Foundation
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement.
The EEF isn’t just a grant-funder, nor just a research organisation. It is a charity with a moral imperative – to support teachers and senior leaders to raise attainment and close the disadvantage gap – which roots its response to this educational challenge in the best available evidence.
The Research School Network
The Research Schools Network is a collaboration between the EEF and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) to fund a network of schools which support the use of evidence to improve teaching practice.
Launched in 2016, the Network currently numbers 37 schools: 27 Research Schools and 10 Associate Research Schools. The Research Schools Network aims to lead the way in the use of evidence-informed teaching, building affiliations with large numbers of schools in their region, and supporting the use of evidence at scale.
Kingsbridge Research School
Kingsbridge Research School, one of the founding Research Schools, works with other schools in the region to help them use evidence more effectively by:
- encouraging schools to make use of evidence-based programmes and practices through regular communication and events
- providing training and professional development for senior leaders and teachers on how to improve classroom practice based on the best available evidence.
By disseminating the existing evidence base and supporting schools to put it into practice, we aim to break down the barriers that have traditionally existed between high quality educational research and what really happens in classrooms.
We aim to provide colleagues across the region with the information and tools they need to engage with the existing research base in ways that will allow them to process, test and apply interventions for themselves without impacting on their ability to deal with the day-to âÂÂday challenges of teaching.
We aim to shift the focus of schools to what the evidence suggests really works for young people. Where questions exist over the efficacy of specific and often longstanding practices, we aim to put these practices to the test in our own school contexts and empower teachers to find out what really works for them and their students.
The principles of evidence-informed practice behind our work
Using evidence helps us avoid wasting resources that might be better deployed elsewhere. A key question from the EEF’s Implementation guidance report is, âÂÂ‘Are there less effective practices that can be stopped to free up time and resources?’
Being informed means going beyond what the EEF’s CEO Professor Becky Francis has called âÂÂ‘surface level compliance’ to the evidence – âÂÂ‘the biggest threat to any change in education’. It’s not enough to look at the headline claims. We need to dive into the evidence to understand the purported mechanism of change behind any programme.
If we use evidence, we give ourselves a higher chance of success – we’re already following a good bet. The EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit is a great place to start, but remember to click through the links to dig into the evidence.
A focus on evidence develops awareness of good implementation. When looking at individual studies, we need to be attentive to context – how and where was a strategy used? With what support? Often, a theoretically sound approach will fail to have the desired effect because of poor implementation. Giving a strategy the best chance of success requires careful planning and monitoring. Using evidence this way helps to create âÂÂan âÂÂimplementation friendly climate.
An evidence-informed profession that is better able to scrutinise claims and interrogate the reasons behind decisions is a more active participant in its own future. At the EEF say, evidence supplements expertise; it doesn’t supplant it.
An evidence-informed approach provides data and analysis for further improvement. Because we know the characteristics of a strategy, we are better able to monitor and evaluate its implementation and effect. This includes highlighting gaps in the evidence base.
It’s ethical. When researchers investigate a particular strategy, they do so with many more students or schools than any one teacher can. As well as helping us identify ineffective approaches, this helps us avoid bias around what does or doesn’t work. Take this parallel from the BMJ Best Practice site: âÂÂ‘medical knowledge changes all the time. And what doctors used to think was the best thing to do, even a few years ago, might actually be considered harmful today.‘
Who’s Who in Kingsbridge Research School?
Jon Eaton is Director of Kingsbridge Research School.
Andy Brumby and John Rogers lead Cornwall Associate Research School, an extension of Kingsbridge Research School based at Trenance Learning Academy and Mounts Bay Academy in Cornwall.
Alison King is our Project Manager.
Our Evidence Leads in Education (ELEs):
Scott Davies, Westcountry Schools Trust
Zoe Milligan, Oldway Primary School
Freya Morrissey, Teign School
Helen Thorneycroft, Kingsbridge Community College
Debbie Weible, Oldway Primary School
Sandra Westlake, Dartmouth Academy
We are all designated Evidence Leads in Education (ELE), which means we have attended and continue to attend rigorous EEF training and âÂÂ‘deep dives’ into the evidence. As well as this, we all lead training programmes based around our specialities. Although single specialities are listed here, many of us are trained in several diï¬Âerent areas, so our range includes behaviour, curriculum, SEN and Collaborative Learning amongst other things.
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