The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Lizzie Gait

ResearchED: a stimulating, if mind-boggling experience!

Optimus Education staff report from the 2014 ResearchED event, held on 6 September at Raine’s Foundation School Lizzie Gait reports: ‘A great line-up of speakers drew me to this year’s ResearchEd event. It was a fascinating insight into the views and ideas of those who are passionate about educational research (or, in Dylan Wiliam’s words, “disciplined inquiry”). The choice of sessions was overwhelming and, although not all that was said was directly relevant to schools, it was certainly thought-provoking. Prateek Buch of Evimatters challenged us to ‘ask for evidence’ to verify and refute the claims we hear about education, and King’s College’s Paul Black highlighted some of the high-impact formative assessment processes we can employ to enrich learning. ‘Tristram Hunt stressed his commitment to formalising teacher professional development, while TeachFirst’s director of research Sam Freedman gave an insightful look into best (and worst!) practice policy-making. The day was nicely wrapped up by Laura McInerney, who advised us on how we can best talk and write about research to bring our peers onside.’ Liz Worthen reports: ‘ResearchED proved to be a stimulating, somewhat mind-boggling experience. I particularly enjoyed online learning guru Donald Clark’s whistle-stop tour of learning theories over the last 2,500 years and his frank appraisal of their usefulness. Most memorable for me was the ‘forgetting curve’, which apparently meant that by lunchtime we’d have forgotten most of what he said. Other valuable words of wisdom came from NESTA’s Oliver Quinlan – ‘in order to evaluate a project effectively, you need to decide on some desired outcomes from the start’ – and from headteacher Tom Sherrington, who reassured us that despite the apparent complexities, it’s worth getting engaged in research.’ Sara Boomsma reports: ResearchED photo2 cropped ‘I thoroughly enjoyed Ofsted schools director Michael Cladingbowl’s presentation on changing inspection. He discussed the Ofsted’s journey over the years and posed the questions: “Does inspection have to equal war? Why can’t it be more like a dance?”. He also put to the audience some key questions about the purpose of inspection:

  • What should we inspect?
  • How should we inspect?
  • When we should inspect?
  • Why?

‘Ofsted confirmed an upcoming consultation on how we should monitor ‘good’ schools and highlighted the importance of redefining the relationship between HMI and schools. Michael stressed the importance of colleagues contributing to the consultation once released, so watch this space! ‘A second stand-out presentation for me was Tom Sherrington’s. Tom stressed the importance of asking the right questions when it comes to utilising research, such as: ‘Where does this hold true?’; ‘What are the implications for our context?’ and, crucially, ‘How will it improve outcomes for our students?’ ‘Overall, I enjoyed the day a lot. It was fantastic to see so many engaged professionals thinking critically about how to embed evidence-based practice into their schools.’

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