Research Conference

Last Thursday we held our very first Research Conference and welcomed colleagues from local and NW primary, secondary and special schools plus other interested colleagues from JMU and consultancies. The agenda for the day mixed ‘big name’ guest speakers and the shared contributions of our own staff.

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



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.


I will attach all of the presentations to this blog and also make the offer to further schools to join us all for FREE at future events-more of this later!

The nature of a conference like this which is an introduction to research in schools, is that the presenters can never be quite sure of how much the audience actually knows about the topic! Fortunately Alex Quigley set the tone for the day with a great presentation which both informed and challenged simultaneously.

 Alex introduced the EEF toolkit and the possibilities within that but also raised his own research advice based on his work with the RISE project, which we are also participants in. Key slides included Alex’s plea which often falls on deaf ears and that matches our first question on our recent well-being survey.

  1. Thornton History ‏@MrThorntonTeach Jun 23

Really enjoyed @HuntingEnglish ‘s presentation on research – particularly like ‘stop doing so many good things’ #MCHSresearch

r1Both Alex and Rob referred to the EEF toolkit and its usefulness but only if you dig deep and discuss what exactly the key words e.g. feedback actually mean, find and disseminate the latest research and good practice internally and externally, adapt it to your own school’s needs and priorities and evaluate the impact.


For those who tweet, Alex provides a treasure trove of good practical advice in both his short tweets and longer blogs as @huntingenglish and I borrowed one of his recent titles in my opening welcome- Is Research Evidence a Luxury for Schools-passionately NO! If you haven’t checked his site, please do. He is still first and foremost a teacher and school leader who is willing to share and advise and we were delighted that he came the afternoon before and spoke to research leads and visited our ‘thinking reading’ scheme. Do also purchase his excellent new book for your staff library!

r3Alex’s recommended sites are below.

r4Dr Gary Jones worked in FE for many years on Jersey and was our furthest traveller. I bumped into his work via twitter and his blogs are really useful for those in schools who want to find out which practice surrounding research and evidence is worth pursuing and considering. His handbook can be found on his web-site and provides great information and guidelines for teachers interested in this topic.



I won’t get into the semantics of research v evidence, Gary can explain that more succinctly than I can!

  1. Alex Quigley ‏@HuntingEnglish Jun 23

Evidence-based practice is about “Improving, not proving” – teachers making decisions & not undertaking research. @DrGaryJones #MCHSresearch

I just want to focus on one area of Gary’s presentation that caught my imagination and that of Leon Walker and the visiting Ros McMullen.


Loving @DrGaryJones PICO method for formulating the right question. #MCHSresearch

Gary’s full presentation is here;  Meolscop June 2016 – Gary Jones.ppsx and we could see the potential of PICO for our appraisal process and enquiry questions.

r7Leon and I discussed the potential of PICO quickly amongst a quick natter with Gary and Alex at the break and Leon will discuss how we might use the process with our subject leaders tomorrow-a quick adaptation for our own needs.


Gary mentioned our appraisal idea at TM Rugby and already a few schools have contacted us. Its early days but I’ll share more once we are ready to run with it. Alex also offered to share the Huntington approach, so we may be able to improve the focus of appraisal targets by using PICO style questions. Watch out for more news!

I admit to hurrying home one night to watch our next guest, Rob Coe, on a pod-cast when he destroyed the notion of grading lesson observations and has continued to do so!

  1. Alex Quigley ‏@HuntingEnglish Jun 23

Great to hear @ProfCoe reiterate issues around lesson judgements/grading & the junk data produced #MCHSresearch

Rob’s full presentation is here;

 What has research ever done for us Meols Cop 23…


The link between research, great teaching and professional development demands school leadership that is able to provide time and commitment, openly discuss what great teaching is and provide PD which allows individual teachers to develop their own practice based on current evidence. Rob’s sensible guidelines to ‘improving teaching’ hit the right note for our participants but I do wonder if this view of professional development is the norm or whether many schools still follow a more generic whole school approach.


Rob shared some of his best known work which was familiar to some but surprisingly not all and he encouraged discussion as the talk unfolded.


For those who haven’t seen the ‘great teaching’ slides before, these are the key ones and I certainly recall a heated discussion at MCHS re the final slide and the value of discovery learning! If we don’t give our teachers access to this kind of material and encourage responses that enable thinking hard about their own learning, we do our teachers and ultimately our students, a great disservice-IMHO!





Rob shared a more recent report;


We are members of the TDT and I do recommend their peer CPD audit and will just mention that our AHT Lizzy Francis is speaking at their conference next Friday-another blog I hope!

This different audit may be useful;


A smashing session to complete a great morning from our guests who would all speak again at the Wellington Conference on the following day.

The afternoon began with a presentation from James Richardson who works for the EEF and he explained their work-apologies for the spelling error in his presentation but I can’t change it!

 Meols Cop_Reserach Use – James Richardson.ppsx

We have been involved in their marking research project and James is keen to help schools to bridge the gap between research and practice. I missed the lively debate which occurred at the end of James’s talk and I believe that universities may not necessarily agree with the EEF giving money straight to school projects and thus eroding their own research capability. Of course for the schools involved, the projects provide a great opportunity and we will build a relationship with both the EEF and university research.

The final sessions from our own staff were incredibly well received and I was naturally very proud of them.

Rachel Jackson‏@TeacheResearch Jun 23

@ewenfields @BPSCscience @DrGaryJones Absolutely! The research projects that your staff are involved in are fascinating! #MCHSresearch

(((Ros McMullen))) ‏@RosMcM Jun 23

So impressed with the Research Lead staff at #MeolsCopHighSchool in Southport. Great day. Thanks @lwalkerleon and @ewenfields

Their presentations are here;

 Hub and Research Powerpoint – greg thornton.ppsx

 MCHS Marking Feedback Research Day – Sarah Cun…

 Research Conference MCHS 2016 – Jen Filson.ppsx

 Research Lead Role presentation 23rd June – Ros…

 research project – Beth Kearns.ppsx

 RISE. Meols Cop Presentation- Katie Fleetwood.ppsx

Some of my colleagues are better known by their twitter names!






If you do open the presentations and want to find out more with the people themselves-email me at and I’ll arrange a visit or sharing of ideas.

I did say in my welcome and concluding remarks that I hoped that further collaboration across the NW would result from the day and it was good to see further meetings being arranged. Sarah and Carmel had already spoken at the local head’s conference and received requests to visit/us go out and so 2 sessions have been arranged that anyone can come to [you don’t have to have attended the conference] that are free and are on;

Wednesday 21st Sept  1-3 (Raising attainment through productive home learning and exploiting the use of mobile technology) Carmel has trialled the use of I pads to support literacy, non-written feedback and home-learning in science]

Thursday 22nd Sept 9-11:30 (Quick and effective marking) As a school we are obsessed with reducing workload whilst still providing effective marking/feedback. Sarah has trialled different codes in English but there will be far more to share!

We also offered 3 follow up training opportunities [which again I’m told are free!] and these are open to anyone who wishes to come along.

Research lead flyer

Leon, Carmel, Jen and Sarah will share more of our work at Alex’s Huntington School in York on Saturday the 9th July at the researchEdYork conference-details are here;

I’m sure that this will be an excellent event and in fact I think we still have a couple of spare tickets-first come first served!

Many thanks for reading.





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