Guest post by Jennie Richards
I attended the third meeting of this group on behalf of SUPER and was very impressed with the level of interest in both the new “network of networks”(there were well over 70 delegates from a range of schools and institutions) and our work at SUPER. I had been asked to be on the panel discussion for the final session, which gave me an opportunity to talk briefly about SUPER. Also, to ask for suggestions for the content of the next meeting, which Cambridge is hosting in a twilight session next term (date to be confirmed).
The previous two meetings (at Eton College and the Institute of Education) were mainly about justifications for the new network, arguments for teachers researching their practice and some of the current thinking from academics and organisations involved in promoting evidence based practice in schools. This meeting was different in that it seemed to be more focused on giving concrete examples of the structures and current projects being created and undertaken in schools and networks, showcasing and evaluating the impact of some of their findings. Prof Bill Lucas from the University of Winchester acted as facilitator, and the hosting was organised by Christ the King Sixth Form College.
Sessions were delivered by:
- CtK, the hosts, a consortium of 3 sixth form colleges whose CPD model was described, demonstrating the growing research culture across the institution, giving flavours of collaborative projects and outcomes of research from teachers involved.
- Eton College gave a presentation about their current progress, in particular focusing on the work of their Researcher in Residence.
- The Greenwich R and D partnership with the IoE, covering primary and secondary schools, described their more emergent stage of development as a research partnership.
Each session was followed by table discussion of what had been heard, plus the panel discussion later.
There was much talk of the range of options for schools to become involved in collaborative teacher research and there were plenty of opportunities to view not only the successes, but also the challenges that are involved. There was much emphasis on learning as opposed to performance, and a genuinely collaborative and optimistic culture seems to be emerging in the group. I believe it has the potential to be a powerful voice to promote SUPER, its values and aims.
Suggestions for the meeting at Cambridge which emerged from the group included:
- More understanding of how networks and partnerships can be created and sustained
- Support structures for developing deep learning
- How to develop peer-led professional development
- What tools can be used/are needed to facilitate research informed practice
- How to evaluate impact and effectiveness
The next meeting at Cambridge should therefore focus on some of these issues. I would suggest that a mixture of theory and examples of relevant practice have been well received by this group, with plenty of discussion opportunities and a similar structure would be appropriate. The audience is mixed in terms, of schools (both independent and state), universities and representatives from various organisations such as CUREE. Some of the audience are experienced in promoting research cultures in schools, whereas others are at the start of their journeys. Hopefully SUPER will be hosting an interesting, informative and stimulating event which will enable this new network to move forward and flourish.