Posted: 1 October, 2018

Leading the way in Learning Research

Blog, General, Senior School, Sixth Form

It would be hard to dispute the wise and reputable words of author and British physician Ben Goldacre (Building Evidence into Education, 2013)

“I think there is a huge prize waiting to be claimed by teachers. By collecting better evidence about what works best, and establishing a culture where this evidence is used as a matter of routine, we can improve outcomes for children, and increase professional independence.”

Believing that we already know all the answers can be a dangerous and mistaken place for a teacher to be in and it is no wonder therefore that we at Putney High School GDST want to ensure that the teaching and learning being provided is always the very best that it can be. Learning is about finding ways to communicate information in the best possible manner and this applies to both the students we teach and the staff as well.  Just three years into our research journey and we are already enjoying the discoveries that can be made about the education system, the improvements that can be found in our teaching pedagogy and the development in student outcome from both a pastoral and academic perspective.

With the support of the GDST and their partnership with the Institute of Education, four members of staff pioneered the Trust-led Action Research programme, all completing their first research projects in July 2017.  Success was seen through the achievement of First Prize as well as two Highly Commended for the inaugural Trust IMPACT Awards. Further victory was seen at the Chartered College of Teachings Research Poster Competition:, for which Putney High received three awards. Radio interviews have also been conducted with Wandsworth Radio, Talk Radio, as well as articles published in the TES, Spectator and The Telegraph.  The recognition of the staff’s work on a national level is just a small part of the importance research plays on a day to day basis in the classroom. Projects have shaped whole-school initiatives, as well as providing students with tools to better their own learning and relationships. The goal is always to research areas that will benefit the pupils in the greatest way possible.

Since the first four projects were completed, a further eight have been conducted by staff members across both a variety of departments and in both the Junior and Senior School. Key to the impact and success of the projects is the sharing of findings with all staff members, so that the whole-school is aware of the ideas being explored in the classroom and beyond.

As we embark on another academic year yet more staff members are engaging with research and new to the super-curricular timetable this year is the opportunity for students, of all ages, to become involved. With a whole-school academic theme around the Science of Learning it seems imperative to give the students the chance to participate in the interventions that we staff are trialling, to help better our memory techniques and strategies.

“The use of research and evidence is now positioned as something vital to providing validity to practice.”
Dr Chris Brown, Professor of Education at University of Portsmouth

Putney is not alone in finding a place for Action Research within the staff CPD and student curriculum, but it is pioneering in the way in which it strives to achieve outcomes which will maximise the learning and benefit the success of our students.

To find out more about the Action Research projects being undertaken by staff and the Teaching + Learning blog, please following the link:

Pippa Wadey

Director of Learning and Research

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