What is ‘evidence-informed education’ and why are we loving it so much?
26 September 2017
Author: Kate Mouncey, Research Lead at Sandringham Research School
As we commence our journey as a Research School, we can’t help but feel there is a real change taking place in education and we are hugely excited to be a part of it!
We were privileged to hear Professor Dame Alison Peacock speak at Sandringham School on Saturday 23rd September, at the annual Alban TSA conference. As Chief Executive of the new Chartered College of Teaching, Dame Alison was explaining the rationale behind her new job and the aims of the College. Such was the strength and emotion of the message, many of the audience left wiping the odd tear from their eye! The key message was that of ‘reclaiming the profession’, for the need to empower teachers to feel that they can make decisions, act on evidence and feel proud of their profession.
Dame Alison stated that “we are too distant between classroom and the research”. She was also keen to emphasise that leadership at all levels is a core area for development, using the title ‘academics teaching in the classroom’ for teachers who stay in the classroom as expert teachers, rather than move into traditional senior leadership roles. The back-bone to excellent leadership and practice is evidence informed practice.
The work of the Chartered College is a key contributor to the groundswell which seems to be building in the area of evidence informed practice. With the high profile of researchED and the excellent guidance being provided by organisations like the Education Endowment Foundation and Institute for Effective Education, this seems to be a real moment for change. It makes sense that empowering and enabling teachers to utilise time and effort on the most promising strategies based on research should be more efficient and improve outcomes. It also has great benefits for teachers in terms of their well-being and the pride that they feel in being part of this amazing profession.
Over the last few years, we have been running a programme in the Alban TSA called ‘Research Advocates’ (http://albantsa.co.uk/cpd/research-advocates.php), initiated as part of the DfE Evidence Based Teaching funding. This course had the core aim of enabling teachers to become more confident in finding, analysing and then using evidence to inform their everyday practice. Undertaking an evaluation of the programme, it was found that the aims had been met successfully and that participating teachers had gained a greater knowledge of using educational research and evidence. However, there was an additional outcome which had not been predicted and which presented itself very strongly; the teachers involved felt like they were being treated as professionals. This is a sentiment that they considered had been lost in some capacity in their everyday jobs, with a lot of actions and decisions taken out of their control and little opportunity to make first hand use of educational research and evidence.
Leat et al (2015) stated; “Our call is for school leaders and policy makers to re-frame their perception of teachers as ‘technicians’ and move towards a view of teachers as ‘multi-dimensional selves”. As teachers, we are professionals and academics who have the skills and experience to operate in multiple dimensions if we are provided with the opportunities. We hope that our Research School will open up more of these opportunities and inspire teachers to take control and try out promising strategies based on research and evidence. Finally, to share one further ideas from Dame Alison; “we need to seize the opportunity to do something different”, to share excellence across the profession and engage in a restlessness to learn and change things for the better.
Leat, D., Reid, A. and Lofthouse, R. (2015) ‘Teachers’ experiences of engagement with and in educational research; what can be learned from teachers’ views?’ Oxford Review of Education, 41(2) pp270-286.Posted on 26 September 2017
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