Research and Development
A Cambridge Teaching Schools Network Blog
Iceni Research & Development
A Powerful Force for Great Teaching in the East
We recognise the importance of being at the forefront of educational research. Conscious of the benefits of teachers being reflective practitioners, schools within our 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 our network of 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.
From 2016 to 2021, CTSN worked in collaboration with the UCL Institute of Education to lead the following research project across our schools:
'How do we know it works? Leading Change'
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
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