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Schools and education organisations secure £50,000 University research fund


Schools and education organisations across the country have won a share of £50,000 from Leeds Beckett University to find out what really works to improve the lives of children and young people.

Professor Rachel Lofthouse

The Carey Philpott Partner Research Fund was established by the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett, and was open to applications from all of its partner schools, networks and community-based organisations with an education focus, of which there are more than 1,000 nationwide, to develop practice-based research within their organisation.

Five awards of £10,000 have been announced for the academic year 2017-18, with successful bidders being supported by a researcher within the University who is an expert in the project’s field. Each organisation will also become part of the Carey Philpott Partner Research network and will benefit from sharing outcomes of all research projects in the scheme.

Rachel Lofthouse, Professor of Teacher Education at Leeds Beckett University (pictured top), explained: “We are thrilled to announce the five successful projects which will support educational decision-making and create positive impacts for children and young people, professionals and communities. Researchers from the Carnegie School of Education look forward to sharing their expertise, but just as importantly, to learning alongside the practitioner researchers who get engaged in each setting. The successful projects have strong thematic links with our research expertise and will help us to continue to learn from the educational issues and practices in diverse contexts.”

Bids were invited around five research areas, and the successful projects are:

  • Tribe Arts - Race and education, supported by Professor Shirley Anne Tate: Tribe Arts, a philosophically inspired, radical-political theatre company based in Leeds/Bradford, will use their practice-based theatre format, Tribe Talks, to get pupils and teachers thinking about race and education within workplace cultures and learning environments. Six sessions will take place in six schools on four topics: Black and Asian history within the curriculum, educator awareness, reflection on school demographic, multiculturalism and uniformity. These sessions will be followed by evaluations and recommendations on practice for schools.
  • Alive and Kicking Theatre Company Creativity, supported by Dr Tom Dobson : Alive and Kicking (AAK) will work across two terms with a year two class from Middleton St Philip's Primary School in Leeds using interactive theatre.  AAK will invite children and their families to take on the roles of experts in creative worlds. The project aims to capture the ways in which the different generations collaborate imaginatively as well as articulate what a teacher can do to promote this engagement through drama. For Headteacher, Liz Taylor, the project is directly aligned with the school’s improvement plan: “Much of our school development plan for this year involves developing the children's imagination. Children depend on their imagination for many aspects of their learning.”
  • Leyburn Primary School and Yorkshire Collaborative Academy Trust (YCAT) - Mental health in schools, supported by Dr Caroline Bligh: Building on the success of the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, this practice-based research project focuses on the role and outcomes of senior staff in promoting a whole school approach to support the mental health and wellbeing of children. The research is led by Leyburn Headteacher, Sarah Beveridge, and will challenge the individualistic approach to improving mental health in schools, and establish how to sustain a healthy school centred on staff and student wellbeing.
  • ImpactEd, in partnership with Bright Futures Educational Trust -  Professional learning through coaching and/or mentoring, supported by Professor Rachel Lofthouse: ImpactEd will work with three primary schools in the Bright Futures Educational Trust (BFET), based in the North West of England. In each school, staff performance management is being redesigned to create a more collaborative, coaching, appraisal method. The project will re-imagine the traditional top-down accountability in schools and develop an ethos and practice for mutual accountability in staff teams. This will build staff agency, wellbeing and a sense of community in working towards shared goals and to open up opportunities for collaborative professional learning.  The research will investigate the extent to which this is achieved and what outcomes emerge for the adults and the children that they work with.
  • Victoria Academies Trust - Special educational needs and/or disabilities in schools, supported by Professor Jonathan Glazzard: Victoria Academies Trust is a Multi-Academy Trust of six schools in the West Midlands, some of which have specialist provision for children with autism. This research investigates the impact of sensory programmes on the progress, attainment and wellbeing of pupils with sensory processing needs, including those with a diagnosis of Autism. Staff will be coached in the role of sensory programmes in enhancing pupils’ learning and wellbeing.  Sensory processing needs can affect children’s development, yet there is a lack of research on how to effectively support children with very specific sensory processing needs. Case study profiles of pupils will be developed through the research and quantitative data will be collected relating to pupils’ achievement.

The projects are now underway and will continue until the end of this academic year, 2018. Project results will be made publicly available following their successful completion.

Sharing their past experience of winning a Research Fund from the Carnegie School of Education, Jack Wardle and Claire Dutton, teachers at Richmond Hill Primary Academy in Doncaster, said: “The funding has been invaluable in making our action research aspirations a reality, helping us to afford the time and resources needed to apply real focus and energy to the research process over a sustained period of time.  The support and challenge provided through our researcher-in-residence has been first-class, keeping the research project on track, valid and ethical at all turns. As newly-appointed Research Leads, the experience of being involved in action research that is proving to have a direct influence on the practice of our schools has exceeded all expectations; the potential for transformation by being involved in research, at both a school and individual level, should not be overlooked.  Not only have we grown in knowledge and understanding of the area of our research but also in our ambitions to influence wider educational development and outcomes.”

Professor Damien Page, Dean of the Carnegie School of Education, added: “As one of the leading Schools of Education in the country, we’re committed to working with our partners to increase research activity as a means of improving outcomes for young people. The Carey Philpott Fund will allow those who work with children and young people to find out what really works and to share that practice across the sector.”

Carey Philpott was Professor of Teacher Education in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University who passed away in January 2017 and who was an advocate for professional learning and evidence-based teaching.

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