As a closely formed alliance of primary schools across Hackney we are committed to the development of R&D practice as part of a self-improving system.
Primary Advantage have established systems in place to embed research and development and have taken steps to grow this further. We are excited about the opportunity to share practice with other schools within our cohort, enhance our current model and further embed our approach to research and development.
We keen to be involved in research projects across our schools in order to both contribute to the field of R&D and enhance our own practice.
We are proud of our strong links to the UCL Institute of Education and are supported by their Research and Development network.
Research Led Communities
Opinion leaders promoting evidence use in their schools.
This project aims to test whether evidence champions are effective at promoting research use in their school, when supported by a research community of peers from local schools and an academic facilitator. Evidence champions are those with informal influence on people’s actions and behaviours – e.g. a teacher who is listened to in the staffroom, and well-connected within and outside the school. This project will bring these individuals and senior leaders together, with input and support from the Institute of Education’s London Centre for Leadership in Learning. It will assess how far evidence champions and senior leaders are able to introduce evidence into their schools’ practice, and the impact that this has on pupil attainment. The Institute of Education will help identify the most suitable participants from the schools, provide facilitators for the research learning communities and provide research content to be used within the communities.
This project is one of several being funded by the EEF that will test ways of improving teachers’ awareness, understanding and use of research. Given the emphasis on teaching school alliances as a new infrastructure for school-to-school support, this project has potential to identify an effective model for these emerging networks.
Online Maths Tuition
Testing the impact of online maths tutoring.
This project tests the effectiveness of making specialist one to one tutoring more accessible, efficient and affordable, by having sessions delivered over the internet. Nesta propose to test whether giving schools access to one such service, Third Space Learning, is feasible and leads to improved results.
Third Space Learning is a small British company which employs full-time tutors in a centre in India. Tutors are fluent English speakers, are trained to deliver online support, and have access to a library of tutorial materials. The advantages of it being online and based in India are the cost and flexibility. Instead of a school having to enter into a contract for a tutor to work at the school for a certain number of specified hours per week, teachers can decide that a pupil needs additional support and book a session within half an hour.
The evidence of the impact of one to one tuition is strong and high; the Toolkit suggests that it is well-evidenced to enable learners to catch up with their peers. The evidence is particularly encouraging for primary school pupils, and that it may be more effective for maths tuition than other subjects. Providing tutoring via schools is a way of making it available to disadvantaged pupils. Web-based delivery means that the approach may have particular benefits for schools in rural or coastal areas. The online delivery model is less well-developed and evidenced, so a trial is needed to test if that remote tutoring is effective at improving results.
Testing the impact of high quality computer programming lessons on attainment in maths.
The project will evaluate the impact of teaching pupils programming in ‘Scratch’. Scratch is a free online programming environment that was developed by MIT Media Lab. It enables children to programme by dragging and dropping code elements instead of typing them. Scratch is already used in many schools as an aid to computing lessons. Teaching coding enables children to learn through experimentation, mastering concepts such as logic and consequences. This project would aim to develop a module of pupil material and assessments for teachers to guide the teaching of programming.
There is promising evidence of computer programming improving pupils’ problem solving, logical thinking, planning, and understanding of cause and effect. It is also argued that high quality teaching in computer programming can lead to improved attainment in other areas, particular maths. The new curriculum is placing increasing emphasis on pupils learning computer programming,with these programming skills seen as particularly important in the future jobs market. Thousands of teachers are now using Scratch so there is a good case to test its impact and explore the most effective ways of teaching it.
A PHD study
Josh Franks is a PhD student at UCL Institute of Education who has spent the last 3 years dedicating his research to the teaching of writing. He spent time across the year 5 classes within Primary Advantage Schools, engaging the teachers and children in completing surveys, writing tasks and interviews to test hypotheses linking teacher and child motivation with attainment outcomes.
He uses this research to inform his own practice and has used the initial findings to inform the future direction of his research. We are interested in using the results of this research to feedback into our schools and increase both the levels of writing motivation and attainment.
Motivation in the teaching and learning of writing in English primary schools: Whether self-determined teaching affects self-determined learning and writing attainment in transcriptional and compositional aspects of text.
This study adopts the theoretical framework of Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci and Ryan, 1985) to examine the relationship between the autonomy and competence of teachers and children in the context of writing in English primary schools. SDT indicates that extrinsic motivation can vary greatly depending on perceptions of relative autonomy and competence. Positive academic and personal outcomes are associated with perceptions of high relative autonomy and competence. Using a quantitative design (initially), this study will aim to build on contemporary qualitative research in this area, which has identified autonomy as a crucial mediator of motivation in writing for both teachers and children in English primary schools. Concerns about motivation for both teachers and children have been blamed on the increased scrutiny of the teaching and learning of writing in English primary schools in recent years. Resulting changes to pedagogy and levels of assessment are also blamed for a disproportionate focus on transcriptional skills - at the expense of compositional skills – in children’s writing. The study will therefore aim to explore how teacher and child perceptions of competence and autonomy (as well as autonomy support) correlate with one another as well as with attainment outcomes.