Westbridge Teaching School Alliance

Research & Development

Westbridge Teaching School Alliance has a close working relationship with Blackpool Research School. Blackpool Research School at St Mary’s Catholic Academy is part of the wider Research School Network

Westbridge Teaching School Alliance are committed to their role in school based research.

  • We respond to current research within our schools. 
  • We endeavour to design research projects with a particular focus on narrowing the gap.  
  • We refer to EEF for research opportunities.
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The Research Schools Network is a collaboration between the EEF and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) to fund a network of schools which supports the use of evidence to improve teaching practice. As the Research School for the Blackpool Opportunity Area, their aim is to develop an evidence-based profession, empowering teachers to use accessible tools based on research evidence to improve outcomes for all pupils.

At Westbridge we share this view and continually keep up to date with developments in Education through the EEF guidance reports and reviews, regularly attending CPD and briefings led by Blackpool Research School. Our aim is to ensure that we disseminate this knowledge and awareness of evidence informed practice across and beyond the Wigan borough through our regular breakfast briefings and speaker led sessions. 

One area that we have been particularly interested in this academic year is Metacognition and Memory. Colleagues from the Teaching School Alliance have attended training on these areas at Blackpool Research School and are looking forward to implementing strategies in their own schools and evaluating the impact of these in the upcoming terms. 

The Research and Development Lead at Westbridge, Charlotte Hindley, has recently been successfully appointed as an Evidence Lead in Education (ELE). As an ELE, Charlotte contributes to evidence-informed school improvement and is designated by Blackpool Research School, supported by the Education Endowment Foundation. As part of her role, Charlotte may lead twilight events to communicate the latest research findings, deliver EEF training courses for schools and can be deployed to visit schools to support them in turning theory into practice.  

Click Here to review Charlotte's involvement with research as a teacher.

Should you be interested in offering training on an aspect of educational research or one of the EEF's guidance reports in your school, please contact us to arrange

Our Current Research Projects

Westbridge Teaching School has continued to develop teacher-led research opportunities. We have recently completed two, Neuroscience-informed, teacher-led randomised control trials. Both trials focuses upon aspects of Retrieval practice that are founded in Neuroscience. For more information regarding the trials, please click the links below.

We can highly-recommend two books which were central to the design of of our research: 

  • Teacher-Led Research by Richard Churches and Eleanor Dommet
  • Neuroscience for teachers by  Richard Churches, Eleanor Dommet and Ian Devonshire

We have designed and implemented a further randomised control trial entitled, 'Attend Today; Achieve Tomorrow' in collaboration with the Greater Manchester Learning Partnership. Current research evidence, from the EEF, highlighted that a a free universal, before-school breakfast club delivered an average of +2 months additional progress for pupils in Reading, Writing and Maths (EEF:2018). Following its success, the DfE has made the decision to continue developing this project with a focus on disadvantaged areas. Evidence also shows that small group tuition is effective, especially in Reading, as pupils receive greater feedback and engagement is high (EEF: 2018). Currently, there is no research about how small group tuition could be used to enhance breakfast club provision. Our intention was to raise attainment and improve attendance through the introduction of Breakfast Club provision and small group reading tuition.and to explore the impact of these enhancements in a range of primary school settings.

Full details of the trial and our research design can be found in our research poster. by clicking here

Following the analysis of the results, from the three schools that took part in the trial, we observed that although there was an improvement in all areas during the treatment period, all results were non-significant. This was not surprising given the small sample size which the results were based upon. Further analysis of results can be seen in our poster.  The EEF (2018) comment that although small group tuition is effective, there is some variability in its impact. This is based upon a number of factors as the specific subject matter being taught and composition of the groups may influence outcomes and the quality of teaching within a small group must also be considered.

Our research lead is currently working as part of a collaborative learning group of educators, scientists and researchers to explore opportunities to bridge the gap between these fields of study in order to bring about evidence based improvements in Teaching and Learning practice. As part of this collaboration,  Westbridge TSA has co-authored an article that has been published in Mind, Brain and Education journal which explores strategies to bridge the gap between researchers and practitioners and analyses the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to these effective partnerships.

(http://www.educationalneuroscience.org.uk/2019/11/26/new-cen-paper-unified-bridging-the-researcher-practitioner-divide-in-mind-brain-and-education/

Charlotte is continuing to collaborate with this working party to develop an online platform which will enable an international online community of researchers and teachers to collaborate professionally to design research projects to bring about school-based, evidence-informed practice. Further details of this online platform will be available soon.

Our Previous Research Projects

We have been a part of National Research on "Closing the Gap".  Results of the 2 year study are now available, please click here.

Following on from this research, Westfield and Platt Bridge have both embedded growth mindset principals and continue to explore the impact of this approach with groups and individuals.

Are spelling tests worth doing? 

Our preliminary study into the effects of a weekly spelling tests indicate that pupils who have a weekly spelling test remember more words taught than pupils who do not have a test.

As this was a preliminary study we are now repeating the research with an increased number of pupils from years 3 to 6. 

Please click here for more information.

Impact of Study

We have developed a spelling incentives scheme in each year group to promote learning spellings indentified in the National Curriculum through which a weekly spelling test earns you a spelling reward.

Consider

  • Westbridge Teaching School will be attending Research Ed in Blackpool in the Spring where we hope to develop further ideas for teacher-led research that can have a positive impact upon teaching and learning in our schools.
  • We are interested in the work of Alex Quigley and his book, Closing the Vocabulary Gap, and are looking to design randomised control trials to measure the impact of different strategies in raising the profile of vocabulary and improving pupils' receptive vocabulary in our schools too.