In recent years there have been a number of publications seeking to tell us ‘what works’ in education. However, these guides can only point us toward what works on average; for any given area of practice, there is always huge variation in terms of efficacy, and even when we pursue ‘safe bets’ there is a good chance we might be making things worse (Mannion, 2017). The only way to get to the bottom of what works in your context is through practitioner inquiry.
Schools often struggle to evaluate the impact of what they do in a rigorous, systematic way. That’s not because impact evaluation is difficult, but because rigorous, systematic impact evaluation has not been a part of the culture or training of the teaching profession. As experienced teacher-researchers, we train schools in how to carry out this important aspect of school improvement. Robust impact evaluation is essential if teaching is to become a more evidence-informed, sure-footed profession.
Learning to Learn
Sometimes it feels like the harder teachers work, the more helpless our students become. Many teachers express frustration that their students expect to be ‘spoon-fed’. The lack of independent learning skills often becomes apparent when students enter 6th form and hit the ‘year 12 wall’. Our whole-school Learning Skills programme enables children become the active drivers of their own learning. We have a proven track record of doing this successfully so that all children benefit, with accelerated gains among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.