Effective research-transformational practice!

I’m delighted to be able to welcome some great speakers and colleagues from across West Lancashire and Merseyside to our first ever Research Day Conference tomorrow. Although the day partly reflects our role as a Teaching School, the main impetus comes from the growing interest within Meols Cop from colleagues wishing to improve and develop their own teaching and a desire to collaborate both internally and externally. We simply have to know what current evidence and best practice is telling us in terms of great learning and teaching and to be able to discuss, trial, adapt and share in our own school and beyond. Michael Gove may be fed up with ‘experts’ but we need to gather as many different views as possible on how research can help our practice, listen how to use research as effectively as possible and discuss how groups of schools can perhaps work together and support each other in the development of meaningful research. There is so much PD potential here for schools, and yet probably so many pitfalls to consider that we hope our speakers and attendees go away with a clearer picture and some new friends to work with in the future.

The format of the day is this;

Research in Schools Conference

Thursday 23rd June 2016 – Meols Cop High School

09.00 – 09.15 Welcome address

David Jones, Headteacher, Meols Cop High School.


9:15 – 10.15 How school leaders, middle leaders and classroom teachers can more confidently use research evidence to improve student outcomes.

Alex Quigley, Director of Learning and Research at Huntington Secondary School, York.


10:15 – 11:15 Educational Excellence Everywhere and Evidence-Informed Teaching.

Gary Jones, Associate of Expansive Education Network, University of Winchester


Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30 What has research ever done for us?

Rob Coe, School of Education and Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), Durham University.


12:30 – 13:15 Lunch
13:15 – 14:00 Embedding research into 24,000 schools – what is the EEF’s role?

James Richardson, Senior Analyst at The Education Endowment Foundation


14:00 – 15:25 Research in practice at Meols Cop

Sarah Cunliffe – Subject Leader (English)

Jen Filson – Subject Leader (Maths)

Carmel Manwarring – Subject Leader (Science)

Greg Thornton – Subject Leader (History)

Beth Kearns – Research Lead

Rosie Pilling – Research Lead

Katie Fleetwood – Research Lead


15.30 Conference Close

Quality guest speakers, who will then head off for the slightly larger and posher Wellington Conference! I can’t wait to hear them, of course, and am equally delighted that my own colleagues have bravely agreed to share ideas in the afternoon session. Their topics will be;

Presentation 1 Presentation 2 Presentation 3
Sarah Cunliffe Jen Filson Carmel Manwaring
Quick & Effective marking                                     (As featured recently in the EEF – A marked improvement?) Shuffling your maths – Our first fully randomised control trial into interleaving maths lessons Blurring the end of the lesson -Using iPads to develop independent learning skills in science lessons


Presentation 4 Presentation 5 Presentation 6
Greg Thornton Beth Kearns Rosie Pilling
Effective feedback strategies in History – Transforming feedback to students through a variety of trialled strategies. Developing number sense including researching strategies for retaining knowledge of multiplication tables. My role as a research lead – What it means for whole school development


Presentation 7
Katie Fleetwood
Researching effective strategies for teaching vocabulary.

We have committed ourselves to a variety of national research trials this year; RISE- which is a collaboration of different schools from across England and has helped us to provide effective training for our research leads, King College London’s setting v mixed ability trial in English and maths, Queen’s Belfast Sapped Learning trial and shared examples of some new English marking in the EEF’s ‘A marked improvement’ review of evidence re marking and feedback. Hopefully we can become involved in further EEF marking trials, are very interested in future research school trials and the early success of our ‘Thinking Reading’ intervention, may lead to further offers of a hub in that area.

As a head, I’m paranoid about workload and wellbeing and have to avoid jumping on bandwagons, asking too much of my colleagues and not giving time, SLT support or proper recompense etc. Alex Quigley in a recent blog asked the question-“is research evidence a luxury for schools?” I obviously don’t believe so and want to do the ‘right thing’ in implementing strategies that I believe will support our teachers and students. Leon Walker, our deputy head, has ‘research and development’ in his job description, I have used TSA money to fund 5 research leads and time has been built in to the timetable to allow the leads and SLEs to research and gather evidence on whatever issues colleagues tell us they need to know more about. The whole process is linked to subject plans and priorities, individual appraisal enquiry questions and where it should be-the classroom!

We will make mistakes along the way and some of what we have called mini research projects-Lesson Study and Learning hubs, was probably more about colleagues working, planning and talking to each other than accurate research! Nowt wrong with this aspect of internal collaboration but we are getting sharper and more focused as we find out more, become involved with Research Ed organisations and academia and constantly consider how effective the evidence actually is and are we looking in the right places for evidence to inform our school context.

Internally you can see from our learning hubs celebration last night, organised by Lizzy Francis, that we have focused our professional development on key issues raised by colleagues. For some of the hubs the research involved was based mainly on the older style of mini-research including lessons study/informal observations and planning/trialling ideas spotted in school or via external resources e.g. literature/social media and so on whilst other hubs have included control groups and newer approaches.

Meols Cop High School – Learning Hubs celebration

  Library LRC PSD (formerly room 35) S6 (formerly Lab 6/CM’s Lab)
3.15 – 3.30 Effective use of IRIS

“The development of the IRIS hub over time and a focus on group work.”


(led by IRIS hub)

Effective teaching of command words

“Modelling the use of command words in lessons to embed learning of key examination command words.”

(led by ED/AW)

An introduction to Thinking Reading

“Introducing the programme Thinking reading; the format, progress and expected impact.”


(led by LC)

Learning through the use of iPads

“Sharing the development of the use of the iPad as a tool for learning.”



(led by CM)

3.35 – 3.50 Developing reading and annotation skills

“Sharing different ways to improve students reading and annotation skills.”




(led by JS)

Effective use of questioning


“Showcasing the development of various strategies to improve student responses to extended answers.”




(led by CL)

Effective feedback & marking strategies


“Transforming feedback to students through a variety of trialled strategies.”





(led by GT)

Strategies to promote the progress of the most able

“Discussing a range of different techniques to stretch and challenge high ability pupils, including ‘extension vs enrichment’, top down planning, hiding the exam question, and feedback without grades.”


(led by BK/HW)

3.55 – 4.10 Approaches to teaching spelling and vocabulary


“Exploring a variety of strategies to consolidate student’ vocabulary knowledge, with a specific focus on direct instruction.”

(led by FL/HJ)

Effective strategies for teaching the least able


“Exploring strategies to support less able pupils, trialling initiatives such as the use of dictaphones.”


(led by MD/MJ)

Effective questioning and the use of question mats


“Breaking down extended questions into smaller chunks to make them more accessible and to ensure the students focus on what they receive marks for.”

(led by KF/SM)

Office 365 Vs. Google classroom



“The benefits of these programmes as tools for learning & teaching.”



(led by TR)

We have shared our work at Show and Share Events, different conferences, in our school to school support work, social media and with whoever wants to listen! This is just a whistle stop tour of our embryonic research work should you be coming along tomorrow or just be interested. If you are reading this on Wednesday and want to come tomorrow; just turn up and we’ll squeeze you in and give you a bacon butty!

I’ll write more about what was exactly said and shared at a later date but do hope that other NW schools will want to work and learn together with us to create a NW Research Ed powerhouse transforming research into great practice!


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