The aim of this post is to lay out a few ideas that I believe in. Ideas that, if you search through the ten years of this blog, I’ve always held. The cult of edu-bloggers is an interesting phenomenon as it perhaps has led to many questioning their own practice (a good thing) and throwing out ideas that they have found to work in the past (a bad thing). Read what I think about research in this post from 2014.
Research is simply the act of finding out about stuff in your school. An action that is important to ensure that teaching and learning improves. Since my teacher training days at Durham University, it’s always been made clear that educational research is a little pants at times. Trying to generalise and recommend from fairly small studies is problematic. This isn;t to say that I’m against educational research. Indeed, reading it is very useful. It’s just that the most important information is often contained in the school. ‘Research I’ve read says we should….’ is a common refrain, even when the internal picture in a school is not supporting.
Now, I’m against fads, and much of the support of educational research tends to be directed against fads like brain gym and learning styles. Strange that, from my experience, teacher training from university has often pushed such things whilst my experience in school has never been to promote such fads. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky to work in places where the professionalism of teachers has been supported and encouraged. Indeed, the ‘research says you must’ seems to fly in the face of encouraging teacher professionalism and our ability to make decisions that improve learning.
I’m not against research and reading before you kick off. Indeed, I’ve found that small scale action research has led to informed policy decisions. It’s called figuring out if it works in our school. In addition, I believe that any research should inform policy and action and that any change needs to occur in the lower school to truly reap the benefits.
Two examples are our small scale research projects into disadvantaged students. These were funded through small (TLR 3) 6 month projects and last year focused on attendance.
We found that extra curricular activity improved student happiness and their attendance. So, this year one of our aims is to provide extra-curricular provision for those with poor attendance. This is a brutal slog but one where we can see the benefit. In other words, research into our setting has led to policy change.
Reading with parents