Building a network: Research Leads in Norwich #NorRel

11 September 2018

Yesterday, we held our first Norwich Research Leads Network (#NorRel) meeting for this school year. And what a great way to start the year: meeting colleagues from across Norwich and Norfolk, hearing news from other schools, and (very importantly after a 5-period day)… eating pizza!

Reconstruction of actual events! Found here:

Here are some highlights and useful links from the first meeting.

What’s on

Susi Waters told us about some upcoming training courses: EYFS, Secondary Science and Leading Learning; also a Metacognition twilight and a trip to ResearchEd in Ipswich (November 17th, free travel, contact us for details).

Peer Challenge- Emma Newby

Emma Newby from Long Stratton High School reflected on how she’d embedded retrieval practice homeworks into the KS3 RE curriculum. She’d thought carefully about effective implementation and evaluation, after attending training with Stuart Kime last year (last chance to book onto Monday’s session).

What stood out for me was her careful, considered approach, and her insistence that nothing should be taken as a given. Retrieval practice has a strong evidence base, but she wanted to ensure that it was appropriate and effective in this particular context.

She has had some really promising results, with signs of good retention over time, even after a 6 week holiday! And feedback from pupils has been positive, too.

Key sources that she referred to were Daisy Christodoulou- Making Good Progress; Weinstein et al, (2018); The Learning Scientists’ website.

Peer challenge- Sam Franklin

Sam Franklin, also from Long Stratton High School (there’s some great stuff going on at that school!) gave a really honest and interesting reflection on how important it is to ensure you are evaluating interventions effectively. She reminded us how easy it is for us to be driven by our own biases, particularly the desire for “our” interventions to succeed (sunk cost bias). She was very open about how her ideas and approaches had developed since her training with Stuart Kime.

Sam described how Stuart triggered a lightbulb moment for her, when he described the trap of cause and effect, encouraged her to narrow her approach, and outlined the importance of comparison groups. For example, it’s just as important to look at the rate of change in results as well as simply the change itself. Stuart also helped her to frame her questions in a structure, scaffolded way. Key sources that she referred to were the EEF DIY evaluation guide (pdf link), EEF Implementation Guidance, Implementation and Process evaluation handbook (pdf link):

Research Snapshots- Flavia Belham

Last year, when Flavia Belham introduced Seneca Learning to us at #NorRel, it was a new platform, and she was keen to spread the word about it.

As it turns out, they had to do very little except light the touch paper, because once students found the site, news of it spread like wildfire, and they’ve had very enthusiastic feedback from students all over the country. Seneca embeds ideas and approaches from Cognitive Science into its platform, to help increase retention of knowledge. It is subject (and exam board) specific, and most importantly, it’s free!

NorRel overview

Roger Higgins outlined the focus and aims of the network. He referred to this report on the role of the Research Lead.

We feel it’s important that research evidence is embedded in schools from within, because context is so important. We are keen that NorRel will offer a forum for people to learn and share ideas, and to challenge each other, in a mutually supportive environment.

Building a network

The meeting ended with breakout groups discussing shared aims and experiences, including those people carrying out research projects, supported by the Norwich Opportunity Area, and those people implementing evidence-informed practice in their schools, with support from the Research School.

Evaluation Evaluation Evaluation

We do practice what we preach, with respect to systematic evaluation, and we’re grateful to everyone for contributing to our own continued evaluation of our network. As always, we have learned various lessons from the first meeting this year (for example, sometimes parallel groups might be optimal). We’ll continue to re-evaluate and re-assess the network and the meetings as we go through the year.


Join us next time

Our next meeting will be held on 6th November at 4.30pm. Meetings are free, and all are welcome. If you’d like to attend the next meeting, please do contact Susi Waters, so we know how much pizza to order!

Posted on 11 September 2018
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