Defining the expanding stage

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As we define it, the ‘expanding’ stage of development has the following features:

'The main foundations of R&D are being established across the school, alliance or partnership: new roles, processes and systems to provide capacity for research activity are being created; and active engagement in a number of different research projects and activities is underway in many schools.  This stage will inevitably pose challenges.  In some schools or parts of the school, R&D remains under development or is not yet embedded in the organisational systems and structures.  The allocation of time and creation of tangible structures are critical in securing leaders’ and teachers’ commitment'.


Diagnose R&D across key dimensions

Click below to download the self-diagnosis toolkit for schools and alliances, which allows you to assess levels of engagement in R&D across multiple dimensions of school life:

  1. Initial teacher education, induction and early career development

  2. Continuing professional learning and development

  3. School leadership and succession planning

  4. School improvement

Use the tool to diagnose where you are as a school, as well as an alliance, recognising that individual schools may well be at different places in terms of R&D, with some having more experience and more established approaches than others.  For each area of school life, the toolkit focuses on three main forms of research engagement:

  1. RESEARCH & DESIGN: use of data and research to inform strategic decision-making and the design and content of programmes and interventions;

  2. DEVELOPMENT & ENQUIRY: opportunities for staff and pupils to engage with research and engage in collaborative enquiry to stimulate professional and pupil learning;

  3. EVALUATION & QUALITY ASSURANCE: use of evaluation strategies to measure impact and inform future planning and decision-making.  


Decide strategic priorities for R&D

The tool also acts as a guide to help you decide strategic priorities for R&D as a school and as an alliance.  We suggest working through each section with colleagues in your school and alliance, to assess which elements of R&D are currently in place and discuss together how far they are successfully embedded. Ask a critical friend for support and challenge in answering three follow up questions:

  1. How to you know whether R&D in each area is actually effective?  What evidence do you have to support your view?

  2. What are the priority areas when it comes to expanding & embedding R&D?

  3. What interventions are likely to be most useful in your context, taking into account school and alliance needs, development stage as an alliance, relationships and social capital, and delegation and distribution of leadership?

Each section contains ideas about possible interventions and is followed by suggestions for taking the next step to expand and embed a research rich culture in your school and alliance.

As a guide, a template for developing a strategic plan for R&D is available to download below, together with some examples of strategic plans from schools in the 'expanding' category.