Eton College Symposium: The Role of Research in School

Guest post by Jennie Richards

On 4th July 2016, Jennie Richards, Dave Hall and Lucy Sherratt, three teacher research leads representing SUPER attended a symposium at Eton College entitled “The role of research in schools”.  This was a very interesting and new event which enabled a wide range of people to meet, share ideas, and discuss possible future developments with regard to school based educational research. There were delegates from USA as well as the UK, and both the independent and state school sectors were represented.

Speakers included Bill Lucas, Geoff Petty, Philippa Cordingley, Louise Stoll, Rob Coe, Laela Adamson and Gary Jones. They provided thought provoking ideas which led to discussion between the representatives of schools, universities and relevant organisations regarding the use of research evidence to support school improvement and the development of sustainable professional learning communities.

The final session of the day enabled consideration to be given to the questions “Where might we go next, and what might we might make together?” Key needs that were identified, with remarkable levels of agreement, can be summarised as the following:

  1. One key umbrella website providing a user-friendly, free, robust and accessible body of professional knowledge which can support research in schools.
  2. A reliable and sustainable source of funding for supporting school research networks.
  3. A national organisation which connects and joins all the current networks together into a coherent whole.
  4. A network which researches and supports the development of teacher research leads in schools.
  5. University involvement with all schools to encourage joint research and knowledge sharing.
  6. Commitment from the government to the value of research in schools. Further support for teachers to Masters level study.
  7. Independent and state school partnership in promoting researching schools and networks.
  8. A more conscious commitment to developing teacher research “from the ground up” and the development of students as researchers.
  9. Aspirational standards for teachers which support professional identity. Universal recognition of the need for trainee teachers to develop research skills and expertise.
  10. National awards for good research practice in schools.

Clearly in the current economic and political climate, these ideas are ambitious and challenging. However, they need to be expressed and optimistically pursued.

It is to be hoped that this very successful symposium can be repeated next year, and thanks to Eton College for hosting such an inspiring event. SUPER is one of the most successful and longest surviving schools university research partnerships.  Dave, Lucy and I all agreed after the event that the day had been really worthwhile and we were really pleased to have been able to gain some recognition and publicity for the good work of SUPER at a national and international level.

For tweets related to the event, see #TLCresearch

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