Getting started with R&D

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If you are finding it difficult to know where to start, rest assured that you are not alone!  Many respondents in our survey of teaching schools told us they would like help with getting started with R&D, for example:

  • “Help with appointing a lead person”

  • “Formalising it in terms of a R&D coordinator and looking at good practice elsewhere

  • “A framework for developing R&D - guidance on what makes good R&D”


Where to start

  • Use our self-diagnosis tool to understand where you are now and where you want to get to with R&D, which will help determine your strategic priorities for R&D as a school and an alliance 

  • Get ideas and suggestions on different research activities, including setting up and running research projects

  • Our case studies give examples of how schools and alliances are using R&D to enhance teaching and learning

  • See our top tips pages for further hints, advice and suggestions for successful research engagement


Who to involve

Get ideas and suggestions on different research roles including:

  • appointing a research lead or coordinator

  • forming a research team or enquiry group

  • supporting and mentoring colleagues

  • promoting leadership 'buy in'

  • seeking support and advice from strategic partners


The ethical dimension

  • Conducting research raises potential ethical issues, which should be considered at the start of a research project, before any data is collected. 

  • For teachers engaged in collaborative forms of enquiry, it is often useful to talk about how you want to work together and possibly set some ground rules at the outset (the Lesson Study handbook has a useful protocol that can be adapted for different projects)

  • Remember that the process of enquiry means asking questions and being genuinely interested in finding out more, rather than pursuing a particular agenda or seeking to confirm existing practice.


Useful Resources for Getting Started

Below are some resources which you may find particularly useful in getting started with R&D:

[1] The R&D Kitbag (NCSL 2012) contains some useful guidance and pro-forma documents that can be used to help set up and run R&D projects in your school.  It also contains a useful list of 'knowledge capture' questions, which can be used to track progress or for end-of-project evaluations.  The R&D Kitbag was developed for the National College by a group of seven teaching schools, led by the Cabot Learning Federation and Silk Alliance.

[2] The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) website has a special area dedicated to research-in-schools, which offers a range of products and services for schools and teachers, including free on-line resources and self-review tool, and a series of 'how to' guides available at a small cost.

[3] The DIY Evaluation Guide (EEF 2013) is an accessible resource for teachers which introduces the key principles of educational evaluation and provides guidance on how to conduct small-scale evaluations in schools.  It was produced by a team at Durham University led by Professor Rob Coe and the Education Endowment Foundation.

[4] Creating a research‑engaged school: A guide for senior leaders (NFER 2014) includes a set of questions designed for senior leaders, to explore their own current situation and decide how to take research engagement forward in their school.  It is based on a recent research project conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), in partnership with United Learning, which sought to gain a clearer picture of what current ‘evidence-informed practice’ looks like, the perceived benefits of engagement and how to develop a culture of evidence-informed practice.

[5] BERA’s ethical guidelines for educational research contain important information to consider in undertaking research,  such as informed consent, permission to withdraw and the responsibilities of researchers to respect all persons involved in research.

The resources page has more links to help you access external research and engage in enquiry, innovation and evaluation