RISE: ‘Research Leads Improving Students’ Education’

Being the subject leader of English is one of the hardest jobs in a secondary school. Over three years ago, in that very role, I sat with my Headteacher, bemoaning how I was making massive decisions about a changing curriculum with little more than a hunch. Stressed and tired, I was frustrated by both the lack of evidence and judgement underpinning policy decisions, but I was also annoyed by my own incapacity to work out what was working. My notion of a research-lead grew from that moment of difficulty and what I saw as a potential support for busy teachers and school leaders.

Fast forward eighteen months: John Tomsett and I provided the Education Endowment Foundation with a proposal for a project entitled RISE: ‘Research Leads Improving Students’ Education’. It was accepted and the RISE Project was born. Our large scale randomised controlled trial (RCT) drew in forty schools from around the country. Working with Professor Rob Coe and Stuart Kime, from Durham University, saw us draw up a research-lead training programme, before fleshing out the two year span of the trial.

The detail of the RISE project began by defining what a research-lead could do to support school leaders and teachers. We considered that a Research-lead would enact the following:

  • Finds the right question;
  • Finds the evidence;
  • Appraises the evidence for quality;
  • Translates the evidence;
  • Shares the evidence;
  • Embeds the evidence;
  • Evaluates the evidence.

Our trial has seen how the role of the research-lead faces the typical challenges faced by most school leaders: the poverty of time; the urgency of action; the anxiety that attends honest evaluation. We have attempted to mitigate those issues by supporting RISE treatment schools with expert support, such as regular training, a websitetwitter feed and a regular newsletter on practical topics for teachers.

As you would expect of a RCT in progress, we are busy working out what works in the complex conditions of busy schools.

The researchED York event, on the 9th of July, will have a specific strand for aspiring, existing Research-leads, alongside other great speakers, like Baroness Estelle Morris, John TomsettTom Sherrington, Phillipa CordinglyTom BennettDavid DidauSam Twisleton and many more.

Buy your ticket for the even at Huntington school below for a mere £17! There will be a range of superb RISE research-leads sharing their experiences and ideas.

Alex Quigley, Director of Research, Huntington School

researchED Maths and Science launches in 2016

researchED is proud to announce our first event dealing specifically with maths and sciences in education. 

We’ve teamed up with Oxford University Press to build a day for everyone involved in these two key areas.

researchED was started in 2013 in response to what I saw as a real hunger in the teaching profession for greater access to better research in their field. Recent years had seen some poor research find traction in classrooms, while better, more careful work was sometimes ignored. There were many reasons for this, but from my own experiences it was clear that teachers were often far from involved in the research conversation. At the same time, there were few obvious avenues for discourse between the generators and the consumers of research – and sometimes, this broadly binary relationship was itself the problem.

So, researchED was born as a one day conference, which became so successful that it became a project and now, apparently, practically a movement. Last year we held 13 conferences and events in 12 months, on three continents. The unique blend of teachers, academics, and everyone in between made it a powerful and unusual blend of ideas and voices, and the grass roots nature of the project was shown by the way speakers and volunteers gave their time and services for free so that entry costs were as low as possible and everyone could afford to attend. These conferences don’t promise the answers to your every research question: rather they promise to help you start finding ways to begin to answer it for yourself.

In November 2015 we held our first subject specific conference: researchED English and Literacy, in Swindon. It sold out, and we’re now proud to say that Maths and Science will now be the focus of our event on June the 11th at the University of Oxford. How we teach, and how we teach maths, science and psychology in particular will be the theme: what are the best methods? What content is most useful? How do we begin to make students literate in these fields, at any age? These questions, and other controversies will be addressed in a day of key notes, debates and panels from some of the UK’s top speakers and experts in this field. Not just from academia, but classroom teachers and leaders and other intermediaries.

Come join us at the magnificent Andrew Wiles Building, home of the University of Oxford’s Mathematical Institute for a multi-strand event where you build the day that best suits your interests and needs. One attendee described researchED days as “the best CPD in the UK they’ve had in 20 years”. We hope you agree.

Right now we’re finalising our list of participants, but you can pre-order tickets and stay up-to-date with the latest confirmed session and speaker details at here. www.oup.com/education/researchED.