Research and Development

A Cambridge Teaching Schools Network Blog

Research and Development

A Cambridge Teaching Schools Network Blog

About our research community

CTSN recognises the importance of being at the forefront of educational research. Research and Development is therefore one of the main activities of CTSN.

Conscious of the benefits of teachers being reflective practitioners, schools within the network each have their own well-established Research Communities. These comprise groups of lively, enthusiastic and dedicated teachers at different stages of their careers involved in a wide range of Action Research projects. These groups engender cross-curricular conversations where good practice is shared and also provide a vehicle for teachers to be reflective about their own classroom practice.  The impact of all of this is a heightened quality of experience for the students at the schools where innovation becomes common place.


Engagement with cutting-edge research


Previously CTSN have been involved in two national projects: ‘Closing the Gap, Test and Learn’ with the National College of Teaching and Leadership and ‘What makes great professional development which leads to consistently great pedagogy?’ with the Institute of Education, University College London (our work featuring in the final report). Research Communities based in CTSN schools have connected with CamSTar (Cambridge, School Teachers and Research) to underpin classroom based research.  Last year, CTSN R&D schools worked collaboratively on research projects exploring ‘Life after Levels at KS3’ and ‘Developing Growth Mindset in pupils, teachers and parents’.  A conference sharing the outcomes of these projects, with keynote speaker Tom Sherrington, was attended by 100 teachers from across the network. 


In subsequent years CTSN, in collaboration with the Institute of Education, has lead the following research project across CTSN Schools:


'How do we know it works?'

Project aims:

A great deal is known about the importance and potential impact of middle leaders in schools but the challenge remains of how to fulfil the role effectively in practice.

In a culture of continuous school improvement, middle leaders are charged with the responsibility to ‘make it happen’. As a result, they are often caught in an ‘implementation trap’ with little time to evaluate whether new initiatives are making a difference.

This programme aims to provide a supportive and reflective forum for 22 early middle leaders from 11 Network schools (primary and secondary) to explore how to:

  • robustly evaluate the impact of initiatives run in departments and within school

  • share knowledge about excellent middle leadership practice within and across schools

  • provide the space, conditions and support for staff to grow and develop their practice

  • bring about evidence-informed change in pupil learning

  • better understand the relationship between improved learning and outcomes

  • better understand and develop the leadership conditions in schools that develop and embed cultures of outstanding practice.

The first cohort of this project began in January 2016, the second cohort ran Summer Term 2018 to July 2019 and the current cohort is due finish during the Autumn Term 2020.

Contact us

About CTSN

Cambridge Teaching Schools’ Network is a collaboration of Teaching School Alliances incorporating 6 National Support Schools. We work together, with all of our partners, in order to provide the capacity to deliver effectively across the Teaching Schools’ agenda.

From the beginning of the Teaching Schools’ Programme, the Lead Schools decided to work as a group together rather than as separate smaller groupings. Through this, we believe that we are far better placed to provide what the profession and the school system needs to develop and continue to develop. We are based across a wide geographical area with Cambridge at its centre. For more information about the CTSN go to

© 2020 CTSN Research

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