ESRC/EEF Research Use collaboration

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Social Science

Abstract

See 'Case for Support' and 'Pathways to Impact'

Planned Impact

See 'Case for Support' and 'Pathways to Impact'

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The 'Literacy Octopus' project is a pair of large, multi-armed - hence the 'octopus' - trials designed to evaluate different ways of engaging schools with a range of evidence-based resources and events. The common focus was on supporting literacy teaching and learning in primary schools.
The first trial tested whether simply sending schools evidence-based resources in a range of formats could have an impact on literacy outcomes - this included printed research summaries, practice guides, webinars and an online database. The second trial tested whether combining these resources with additional support to engage with them would have greater impact.

In total, over 13,000 schools were involved in these two 'Literacy Octopus' trials. Some schools were just sent evidence-based resources; while others received the resources along with additional light-touch support, such as invitations to twilight seminars on using the resources in the classroom. By testing different ways of engaging schools with the same evidence, the intention was to compare 'passive' and 'active' forms of research dissemination.
Note: The research described below was not directly funded through the ESRC, although the holder of this award, Prof. Jonathan Sharples, was responsible for designing this project as one of a round of EEF projects on 'Research use in schools'.
In what are some of the largest randomised controlled trials (RCTs) ever conducted in education, the evaluators, the National Foundation for Educational Research, found that none of the approaches had an impact on pupil attainment, nor on the likelihood of teachers to use research to inform their practice.

What this shows is that our notion of 'research use' needs to extend beyond just communicating evidence - for example, publishing a report online - to looking at how it is effectively transformed and applied to practice. This message is particularly sobering, given that basic communication strategies still make up the majority of organisations' efforts to mobilise research evidence, despite those organisations being aware of the limitations. This applies to all sectors, not just education.
Exploitation Route There are three key lessons:

1. Traditional communication and dissemination of research should be seen as just one strand of a multi-faceted approach to mobilising knowledge. Although traditional communication of research can provide a cost-efficient way of engaging a large number of schools, and create widespread awareness of a piece of work, it should be seen as a foundation for further activities, rather than a means to research use in itself.
2. Projects and interventions that encourage an engagement with research need to provide better support for translation and adoption back in the school. For example, a growing body of evidence demonstrates the benefits of in-school coaching and mentoring in supporting changes in classroom behaviours - we should explore how these and other activities can be woven into projects that support research use in schools.
3. We should continue to help build the general capacity and skills in the sector to use research as part of school improvement. This includes developing resources and processes to support evidence-informed school improvement, as well as creating wider readiness and incentives to use research by working with regional and national policy makers.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Healthcare

URL https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/news/untangling-the-literacy-octopus/
 
Description The findings, strategies and resources that have emerged from these awards have led to extensive non-academic impacts. Details of these impacts are provided in the researchfish submission, however, they can be summarised in terms of: 1. Impacts on policy making - the projects in this award have led to demonstrable changes in national and regional policy making. For example: the UK government are using the 'School's Guide to Implementation' to support the implementation of a number of major national policy initiatives in education (e.g. SSIF, Opportunity Areas); regionally, 11 local authority regions, covering over 1000 schools, have run events and training as part of the "Making best use of Teaching Assistants" campaign. The work has created cultures and infrastructure that is leading to sustainable impacts. 2. Impacts on evidence-informed education systems - In addition to the direct, instrumental impacts on policy and practice relating to teaching assistant deployment, the outputs from this award have significantly influenced the way that research evidence is translated and used in the UK, and the creation of integrated evidence systems. For example, the 'Making best use of Teaching Assistants' campaign was the first attempt by the EEF to create a piece of clear and actionable guidance for schools, which is then used to underpin a national multi-stranded, scale-up initiative. The success of the project has led to it acting as a model for EEF's overall scale-up strategy, which has been applied across a wide range of topics - literacy, numeracy, metacognition etc.The model of producing and mobilising evidence-based guidance is impacting on What Works Centres in other fields. For example, the What Works Centre for Children's Care have used EEF guidance as their model for creating evidence-based guidance. 3. Impacts on practice - Independent evaluations of the projects in this award show they are having a positive impact on school and teacher behaviours, and on pupil attainment at scale (e.g. on Key Stage 2 English outcomes across Yorkshire). In addition to national impacts, the outputs from the ESRC award is having an impact internationally across the three dimensions described above.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description 70% of Headteachers, nationally, are aware of the Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants guidance report, with 40% reporting either to have read the report or acted on it (2015 NFER Omnibus data).
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/campaigns/making-best-use-of-teaching-assistants/
 
Description Ambition Institute academic advisory group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact The Ambition Institute are using an EEF guidance report that I authored, 'Putting Evidence to Work - A School's Guide to Implementation' as the overarching improvement framework for their leadership training programmes.
 
Description Member of the Chartered College of Teaching advisory board
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Increased professionalism of the teaching profession, through the development of evidence-informed practice
URL http://www.claimyourcollege.org/about/advisory-group/
 
Description OfSTED briefed all schools nationally on the 'Making best use of Teaching Assistants' in their Schools Inspection Update
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Increases in impact of teaching assistants on pupil attainment, particularly those from low SES backgrounds.
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/595745/School_inspection_u...
 
Description Q Project advisory group
Geographic Reach Australia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.monash.edu/education/news/q-project-brings-schools-and-research-evidence-closer-to-unloc...
 
Description Using the EEF guidance report, 'Putting Evidence to Work - A School's Guide to Implementation' to influence national and regional policy making and practice in education
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact In 2018 the Education Endowment Foundation published a guidance report that I authored, called 'Putting Evidence to Work - A School's Guide to Implementation'. This report is having a significant influence on the national and regional policy making and practice in education in the UK. For example: - The school inspectorate, OfSTED, have used this resource in their development of the new OfSTED framework. - Government have used the guide to support the implementation of the Strategic School Improvement Fund projects and the Opportunity Area policy, with my assistance and training. - The EEF and Research School Network are using the guide to underpin their school improvement programmes, reaching 1000s of schools. - National agencies, charities and third sector organisations - e.g. Ambition Institute, Right to Succeed - are using the guide as a framework for their leadership and teacher training programmes. Across all of this work, I have provided hands-on training and support to mobilise the evidence in the implementation guidance report.
URL https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/tools/guidance-reports/a-schools-guide-to-implementation...
 
Description Collaboration with Lincolnshire Learning Partnership to disseminate and implement the 'Making best use of Teaching Assistants' guidance across Lincolnshire schools 
Organisation Lincolnshire County Council
Department Lincolnshire Learning Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution Scale up campaigns are specific and directive activities that address practical issues in schools by scaling up evidence-based approaches. Underpinning each campaign is clear and actionable guidance, with additional supporting resources to help schools act on the evidence. This guidance is disseminated and implemented using a range of approaches, tailored for each campaign - e.g. through communications (e.g. press/media), awareness raising, training, influencing policy. We brought guidance on 'Making best use of Teaching Assistants' to the partnership, help on understanding the guidance, training for schools, and support in creating a plan to integrate the work into the region.
Collaborator Contribution A key feature of the campaign model is partnering with practice-based intermediaries (or 'advocates') in geographically-focused target areas to provide additional practical support for dissemination and implementation. The roles of practice partners include: • Encouraging schools to engage with EEF evidence and resources • Providing support and challenge around implementation through training and coaching. • Integrating EEF's work within the existing processes and priorities in the region • Signposting schools towards EEF-funded interventions that can provide further support for implementation. Lincolnshire Learning Partnership (LLP) provided support of this type across 300 schools in Lincolnshire through events, training and coaching.
Impact Over 300 schools in Lincolnshire are participating in a project to improve the way Teaching Assistants are deployed and trained, in line with the research evidence compiled by the EEF.
Start Year 2015
 
Description North East Primary Literacy campaign 
Organisation Northern Rock Foundation
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The EEF's scale up strategy (see Making best use of Teaching Assistants above) is also being applied to a Primary Literacy campaign in the North East, which has drawn £5m co-funding from the Northern Rock Foundation. The campaign will last five years and aims to reach all primary schools in the region, to apply the evidence on effective literacy teaching.
Collaborator Contribution The Northern Rock Foundation have provided £5m co-funding to the project. They will be involved in the governance of the project.
Impact The collaboration has just started.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Partnership with Suffolk County Council: Encouraging schools to use evidence-based programmes 
Organisation Suffolk County Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution EEF have partnered with Suffolk County Council to run an Excellence Fund that supports disciplined innovation across the region, where schools are financially incentivised to implement evidence-based programmes and interventions. 130 schools have selected programmes from a menu of approaches that have been evaluated by the EEF and shown to improve pupils' learning outcomes. Schools have provided 50% of the funding for the programme, with the EEF and Suffolk providing 25% each. EEF and Suffolk CC staff support schools in selecting and implementing the appropriate programmes. EEF are evaluating the project as a novel approach to scaling up evidence-based programmes.
Collaborator Contribution See above
Impact 130 schools have adopted an evidence-based programme as part of the Excellence Fund partnership.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Research Schools 
Organisation Government of the UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The Research Schools Network is a partnership between the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) to fund a network of schools who will support the use of evidence to improve teaching practice. The Research Schools aim to become a focal-point for evidence-based practice in their region, building affiliations with large numbers of schools and supporting the use of evidence at scale. Research Schools will engage with local schools in a variety of ways and with varying degrees of intensity. The Research Schools are all recognised as leaders in bridging between education research and everyday classroom practice. They'll use their expertise to support up to 1000 schools by: 1. Communication - Encouraging schools in their network to make use of evidence-based programmes and practices through regular communication and events. 2. Training & Modelling- Providing training and professional development for senior leaders and teachers on how to improve classroom practice based on the best available evidence. 3. Innovation - Supporting schools to develop innovative ways of improving teaching and learning and providing them with the expertise to evaluate their impact. The Research School Network has attracted widespread attention across government, including from the former Minister for Education, Justine Greening MP, who expanded the network to 12 new social mobility Opportunity Areas, as part of a £3.5m collaboration with the EEF. The network now comprises 23 schools, supported by a total budget of £7.2m and a team of 12 staff.
Collaborator Contribution See above
Impact 23 Research Schools have been appointed and are working with 100s of schools around the country.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Research Schools 
Organisation University of York
Department The Institute for Effective Education
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Research Schools Network is a partnership between the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) to fund a network of schools who will support the use of evidence to improve teaching practice. The Research Schools aim to become a focal-point for evidence-based practice in their region, building affiliations with large numbers of schools and supporting the use of evidence at scale. Research Schools will engage with local schools in a variety of ways and with varying degrees of intensity. The Research Schools are all recognised as leaders in bridging between education research and everyday classroom practice. They'll use their expertise to support up to 1000 schools by: 1. Communication - Encouraging schools in their network to make use of evidence-based programmes and practices through regular communication and events. 2. Training & Modelling- Providing training and professional development for senior leaders and teachers on how to improve classroom practice based on the best available evidence. 3. Innovation - Supporting schools to develop innovative ways of improving teaching and learning and providing them with the expertise to evaluate their impact. The Research School Network has attracted widespread attention across government, including from the former Minister for Education, Justine Greening MP, who expanded the network to 12 new social mobility Opportunity Areas, as part of a £3.5m collaboration with the EEF. The network now comprises 23 schools, supported by a total budget of £7.2m and a team of 12 staff.
Collaborator Contribution See above
Impact 23 Research Schools have been appointed and are working with 100s of schools around the country.
Start Year 2016
 
Description A New Zealand publication, called Public Sector, published an article on our review of the What Works Network 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A policy magazine/journal based in New Zealand, called Public Sector, published an article on our review of the What Works Network
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Delivering regular keynote addresses on evidence-based practice to national and international practitioner audiences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I regularly present to schools on the concept of 'evidence-informed practice' and how research can be used to inform their decision-making (~50 over the last three years). This is usually framed around a process of evidence-based school improvement and includes practical advice on how to find, interpret and act on research evidence.



The EEF/Sutton Trust Teaching and Learning Toolkit has become a widely referenced resource, informing decision-making in schools and at policy level (e.g. half of headteachers in England report using the Toolkit).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
 
Description Presentations on 'Putting Evidence to Work - A School's Guide to Implementation' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I have delivered approximately ten presentations over the last year to a range of audiences - schools, policy makers, system leaders third sector organisations - on effective implementation in eduction, based on the guidance report i authored, 'Putting Evidence to Work - A School's Guide to Implementation'. These presentations have led to demonstrable changes in school improvement practices around the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description Presentations to policy audiences on developing evidence-based policy and practice in education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I have delivered a number of plenary/key note presentations to policy audiences on developing evidence-based education policy and practice. This includes presentations with OECD, US government, EU Commission, Australian state and federal governments and UK Department for Education.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018
 
Description Press/media engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I have conducted a number of interviews with the national press/media on the work related to the placement ( eg Times Education Supplement), particularly the 'Making best use of Teaching Assistants' scale up campaign.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017,2018