One of the challenges when trying to use research evidence to improve teaching practice in schools can be the amount of evidence to wade through, and its inaccessibility.
Most schools and their staff simply don’t have the time to sift through the evidence and reach their own conclusions. With this in mind, guidance reports from the Education Endowment Foundation do some of this heavy lifting for you. And a key part of the role of the Research Schools Network is to turn these guidance reports into training programmes that help schools use them in practice.
The guidance aims to produce actionable recommendations for the classroom based on a review of the latest, and best, evidence. There is still a need to incorporate these into practice within an individual’s, or a school’s, approach to teaching literacy, but that is where schools and teachers are the experts – incorporating the implications of research into their own professional practice.
Throughout the guidance, there is an indication of the level of evidence that supports the finding. For example, developing pupils’ language capability to support their reading and writing is supported by extensive evidence. On the other hand, there is limited evidence supporting the recommendation to develop pupils’ transcription and sentence construction skills through extensive practice. This matters because, while it is not necessary that all teachers need to know the details of all research, it is useful to know that teaching is still a developing field. These guidance reports (and research studies in general) do not necessarily constitute the last word. With numerous studies taking place around the world all the time, we’re discovering more about what works, or might work, in teaching. To move from a situation where new approaches are an upgrade on what has been tried previously, rather than the latest fashion, would be a significant improvement.
There will be further EEF guidance reports appearing over the next few months (see the timetable here). Research Schools will continue to play a role, both in developing the guidance, and bringing it to life for implementation in the classroom.
Kevan Collins blog
Pete Henderson blog
Improving Literacy in Key Stage One
Improving Literacy in Key Stage Two
EEF Guidance reports