Press release

Creating a research-engaged school - a guide for senior leaders

1 July 2014

Research published today by the National Foundation for Educational Research and the United Learning group of schools gives an insight into how teachers use research evidence in the classroom and what they feel are the most effective approaches to engaging with research and using it to inform their practice.

It is accompanied by a practical guide for senior leaders called Creating a Research-Engaged School – that helps them explore with their teams the approaches that can be adopted to make greater use of research evidence in their schools. The easy-to-read guide provides a menu of building blocks for developing a research-engaged school culture together with help to assess a school’s current situation and how to take research-engagement forward.

The research contributes to the growing debate around evidence-informed teaching practice by providing a clearer picture of what current evidence-informed practice looks like, the benefits of engagement and how to develop a culture of evidence-informed practice.

Key findings from the study are:

Carole Willis, Chief Executive of NFER, commented: “For our schools, and the young people they serve, to gain maximum advantage from the best available evidence, research organisations and schools have to work together. That is why I’m delighted with this partnership between United Learning and NFER, investigating how teachers can use research to inform and improve their practice. I hope the findings will be of practical benefit to schools, particularly those seeking out new ways to integrate evidence-use into their practice.”

Jon Coles, Chief Executive of United Learning, said: “The importance of an evidence-based approach to learning is clear but it can be hard to see the wood for the trees and identify what approaches deliver the best outcomes in the classroom. This report helps to identify some starting points to engender a research-based culture both within a school and within a subject. It provides a helpful guide for senior leaders on how to explore their schools’ current situation and suggests strategies to encourage and support the growth of their own research-engaged culture.”

The research report: Teachers’ Use of Research Evidence can be accessed at: /IMUL01

Creating a Research-Engaged School – A Guide for Senior Leaders can be accessed at: /IMUL02


Notes to Editors:

The small-scale exploratory study was carried out in United Learning schools and involved telephone interviews with United Learning senior leaders and face-to-face interviews with a range of interviewees in seven case-study schools.

About NFER
NFER has a worldwide reputation for providing independent and rigorous research in education. As a charity, any surplus generated by the Foundation is reinvested in research projects. /schools.

Contact NFER:Jane Parrack, Marketing and Communications Manager:, 01753 637245.
Sarah Fleming, Media and Communications Executive:, 01753637155.

About United Learning
United Learning is a national group of schools which aims to provide excellent education to children and young people across the country. Uniquely, it includes significant numbers of schools in both the public and the private sectors, working together for mutual benefit and linked by the aim of bringing out the best in everyone.

Contact United Learning: