Research & School Improvement services

Improving performance, engagement and achievement with teaching and learning

Enquiring Schools

Evidence-based teacher development and school improvement


Case study - Lexden Springs School

Lexden Springs School in Colchester caters for young people who have complex or profound learning difficulties, which may include autism. The staff held their NFER Enquiring Schools launch day in October 2015 and have worked through the Enquiring Schools 7-step methodology in triad groups, developing their baselines ready to start their enquiries in January 2016. Some of their enquiries included:

  • How can we help our students to recognise and identify their emotions, so that they can self-regulate their behaviour?
  • How does the introduction of developmental movement or music programmes impact on social interactions among pupils?
  • In what ways do children’s ability to communicate with a wider audience impact upon their communication and independence skills?

Alison Willmott, the NFER Enquiring Schools facilitator, commented: “I am very excited to be working with the staff at Lexden Springs.The work there is based on a deep understanding of their pupils’ needs. The staff are committed to using action research and accessing existing evidence to raise achievement and improve outcomes for their students. They have focused on the areas of communication, emotional expression and self-care.”

Lucy MacNaughtan, a teacher at Lexden Springs Schools is helping to co-ordinate the programme and commented: “The NFER Enquiring Schools Programme has given the teachers in our school a consistent framework upon which they can develop and share their research projects. Alison has built teachers’ confidence and provided individual feedback to staff as well as leading staff meetings.” Nicola Paton, another teacher, said: “As a middle manager, leading and developing our evidence-based work, I have appreciated Alison’s help to build our school portfolio.”

Simon Wall, Headteacher at Lexden Springs, said: “I would like to say how proud I am of the staff and how I feel the level of teacher debate has rocketed in our school.”

To find out more about the NFER Enquiring Schools Programme please visit: