How research engaged is your school? Matt Walker, NFER #researched

June 4, 2015  |  #ResearchEd

Matt began with the importance of developing rich relationships with schools and teachers, so that as a researcher he doesn’t end up ‘pushing research onto teachers’.

He follows a model of ‘evidence informed practice’, a bringing together of a variety of sources to inform practice, of which ‘research evidence’ is only one.

There are two main groups involved in research; the academics and the practitioners. He acknowledged the tensions between these two, the feeling sod disconnectedness on one side, lack of rigour and scale on the other.

We need to ask, he said, what research is for. Do we need large scale or is smaller going to answer our questions? Do we need to use statistical methods to answer the question or will in depth qualitative work uncover what is important. Who should do the research is also important, sometimes the distance and specialist skills of a professional research outfit is needed, others the closeness an collaboration of teacher led research can answer the questions, and get the desired effect.

The NFER self review tool helps schools to identify their engagement with research and enquiry. It’s a free tool for schools and teachers to provide a framework for understanding where they are and most crucially seeing where they might develop next.

The tool has been developed with practitioners. It takes them through 8 key aspects of research engagement, encouraging teachers to self review where they are with these themes, highlighting gaps and areas to extend. At the end it produces a report, an artefact to encourage a discussion about how schools can develop in this often tricky field.

NFER also produce ‘How to’ guides on activities such as planning research, developing surveys, and running randomised control trials. Such activities can lead to assessment for the NFER ‘Research Mark’, a kite mark showing schools that are engaged with such activities. This could potentially become something to attract staff, as Kate Atkins mentioned in her talk earlier.

All their resources for schools are available at

Related posts:

Research makes education better @kateatkins33 #researched
Why should primary schools be engaged in research? @Jon_Brunskill #researched
Becoming a research engaged school #ResearchEd @C_Hendrick

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