A review of the Research Leads Network Symposium, March 7th 2017 (hosted by SUPER)

Guest post: Jennie Richards, Emeritus Teacher Research Lead (SUPER)

What tools can be used to create and sustain teacher practitioner enquiry networks and partnerships?

About 50 interested people attended this recent event, which was the fourth meeting of the new “networks of networks”. A formal welcome from Professor Geoff Hayward, Head of the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge highlighted the potential of research partnerships, coining the phrase which was to become something of the theme for the evening: “the power of the collective”.

The symposium consisted of two main parts, with each part launched through brief inputs from a variety of contributors from SUPER (teachers and Faculty representatives). The rest of the time was given to table discussions (each table hosted by a member of SUPER) where the main points were recorded on paper for future review.

  1. How has partnership research impacted on the schools and the university (benefits and challenges)?

IMG_9956Dave Hall, a Research Lead, spoke first, in particular demonstrating how using a networking survey of staff at his school led to significant insight into how information and knowledge about pedagogy is transferred. Then Rob Robson (a recent Head teacher) spoke of how involvement with research and SUPER had led to school improvement and a research culture becoming integral to the school’s development plans. Finally in this part, Bethan Morgan spoke enthusiastically of the symbiotic nature of the partnership and some of the challenges that were involved.

  1. An input on SUPER’s current joint research project, “How do we promote character, resilience and wellbeing in an educational climate of outcome accountability?”

Ros McLellan and Brian Barham explained how the research question had evolved over time, and the methodologies that had been chosen. In particular, emphasis was given to being able to use an existing survey tool for the enquiry which had already been successfully used by the Faculty, thus saving a great deal of time and effort.

Then 3×2 minute presentations followed from three school Research Leads (Abi Thurgood-Buss from Rodings Primary School in the Dunmow Consortium, Krista Carson from Soham Village College and Mike Murray from Impington Village College) with reflections on current findings and the next steps envisaged.

Discussions on tables then reflected on the research processes that had been described and any lessons that people had learned from the presentations which would help them to answer the question about useful tools to create and sustain networks as posed in the title of the symposium.

Finally the symposium finished with the question of where next with the network of networks? Nothing was decided at that point but hopefully more symposia will be arranged to build on “the power of the collective”. In my next blogpost I will summarise the ideas that were floated and collected during the evening’s table discussions.

Many thanks to Jennie for this guest post. We will publish her summary of key ideas next. For the session slides including programme, please see the previous blogpost.


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