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Research and Development

A Cambridge Teaching Schools Network Blog

Research & 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


CTSN has 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 UCL Institute of Education (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.


In 2019, 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. 


Since 2016 CTSN, in collaboration with the UCL Institute of Education, has led the following research project across CTSN Schools:


'How do we know it works? Leading Change'

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 aimed to provide a supportive and reflective forum for early middle leaders from CTSN 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 from the summer term of 2018 to July 2019; the third cohort began in January 2019 and finished in the spring term of 2021.

The 2019-2021 cohort published their findings in a series of blog posts below:

'How do we know it works?' Leading Change

Implementing MARS/EARS in MFL lessons

Preparing for effective delivery of the new PSHE requirements

Every Day is Judgement Day

Developing Knowledge Organisers for Teachers

Threshold Concepts and Misconceptions

Improving the delivery of PSHE education in KS3/4

Constant Computing and Variable Vocabulary

Metacognition and computational thinking across the curriculum

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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

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