Reflections on being evidence informed…

12 June 2018

As a former teacher in a secondary Teaching School (TS), I was aware of what Research & Development (R&D) meant for me – extra stress! I conducted my own research project as part of a Master’s of Education whilst teaching English full time and found it rewarding but challenging. So, when I found that Liverpool John Moores University was offering a funded PhD scholarship to study research engagement in the teaching profession, I jumped at the chance to find out what R&D looked like for others. Three years on, I have gathered insights from a survey (n=109), interviews (n=6) and visits to Teaching Schools (n=3), where ‘wider school communities both engage “in” and “with” research’ (Teaching Schools Council, 2017). One of these schools was Ash Grove Academy, which proved to be a fascinating case study for me due to the additional EEF/IEE Research School status that the school had been awarded. As I finish writing up my 80,000-word thesis, here is just a snapshot of what I’ve found about ‘evidence-informed teaching’ (DfE, 2016) in Aspirer Research School.

Even before the Teaching Schools Council (2017) declared that R&D should be ‘an integral part’ of everything a TS does, the Director of Aspirer Research School, Megan Dixon, told me that this was their aim from the start. Influenced by a report from the British Educational Research Association (BERA-RSA, 2014), many opportunities were set up to facilitate the ‘evidence-informed’ agenda. I understand that there are even more opportunities now, however my case study of the 2016-17 academic year focused principally on the Research2Teaching Seminar Series developed by Aspirer. These seminars provide the opportunity for teachers and practitioners to listen to and discuss research with the researcher themselves in an informal context. From this I concluded that being evidence-informed at Aspirer means actively engaging with research, not simply engaging research (in other words, deploying the findings from external research) to justify practices.

Attendees of the seminars kindly took time to offer their opinions in an evaluation form (n= 47). Most thought the content of the seminars was interesting (Fig. 1) and might have ‘some impact’ on pedagogy (Fig. 2).

Figure 1: the content was interesting

Figure 2: impact on teaching and learning

When I interviewed Megan, she explained that it isn’t necessarily about hearing something to implement straight away. I certainly agree that being evidence informed should be active (intellectually engaging with research) not passive (just engaging the findings from the research of others). This is what makes teaching a profession.

Rachel Jackson, LJMU PhD student,


British Educational Research Association and the Royal Society for the Arts (2014) Research and the teaching profession. Building the capacity for a self-improving education system. Final report of the BERA-RSA inquiry into the role of research in teacher education:

Department for Education (March 2016) Educational excellence everywhere:

Teaching Schools Council (2017) The role of research and development in teaching schools: response to the NFER report:

Posted on 12 June 2018
Posted in: Blog, Evidence

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