Holme Grange School in Berkshire is celebrating its inclusion in the Eton Journal for Innovation and Research in Education, after it was recognised for its work creating a research culture in the school.
The school credits its success to the appointment of a research lead, Claire Willott, following advice from the Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning (CIRL) on how the school could expand its research work.
CIRL also encourages schools to place themselves at the centre of educational research by becoming willing and enthusiastic centres for projects and trials. They encourage schools to build links with universities, undertake their own research and engage with the latest in research ideas.
It is this willingness to engage with, and understand, the latest teaching tools, techniques and platforms that the school believes helped it prepare for the Covid-19 lockdown.
University researchers need pupils in order to carry out their research in education and they are willing to contribute a great deal of expertise and support to schools in return for access to schools – Claire Willott, Holme Grange School
“As a school, we felt well placed to implement new teaching platforms and adapted very quickly to the changing situation due to the fact that we were exploring some of the platforms as part of our research and innovation. Maybe a key learning from the COVID pandemic is to constantly be looking to the future and evolving teaching practice,” said Danielle Marriott, a spokesperson for the school.
Writing in the Eton Journal for Innovation and Research in Education, Willott said: “We had two projects. One was looking at the issue of simple punctuation mistakes that were regularly repeated in children’s work. The other involved utilising standing desks in school.”
As her role developed, Willott discovered research that addressed challenge the school had identified as strategic goals.
“A maths teacher wanted to review a teaching and learning platform to see if regularly addressing arithmetic would improve performance in the wider maths curriculum. We met to discuss what baseline testing could be carried out, when and how often the programme would be used and a suitable duration for the intervention,” Willott explained.
Through attending an event at the department of education at the University of Oxford, Willott enrolled Holme Grange in the OARS project and the BrainCanDo project.
“University researchers need pupils in order to carry out their research in education and they are willing to contribute a great deal of expertise and support to schools in return for access to schools.”
The school now has a CPD programme, which includes a research and development stream for teachers interested in strengthening their skills in this area.