Research & School Improvement services

Improving performance, engagement and achievement with teaching and learning

Enquiring Schools

Evidence-based teacher development and school improvement


Case study - Oasis Innovation Teaching School Alliance brings school leaders together to run NFER Enquiring Schools programme

Oasis Innovation TSA (part of Oasis Community Learning) are using the NFER Enquiring Schools programme to bring their outstanding school leaders together to learn more about how they can use research and enquiry for school improvement. They plan to share this process with their local schools, creating a pyramid-effect of increased knowledge about evidence-informed practice across the Oasis network of schools.

Some school leaders had travelled over four hours to meet for their third session at Oasis Shirley Park in Croydon, London – a clear demonstration of the value placed on these sessions. The group, led by NFER’s Gareth Mills, shared their in-school enquiries and they learnt research methods and techniques to use in school, with a focus on capturing baselines.

At Oasis Limeside, Principal Helen Arya, described how they are looking into cognition as an overall theme, with smaller groups of staff looking at outdoor learning, language acquisition and staff attitudes. At Oasis Henderson Avenue, Deputy Principal Louise Cranidge, explained how they are focussing on EAL and peer tutoring: “Each year group are linking it to different subject areas”.

Adam Browne, Head of Primary Phase at Oasis Shirley Park, wants to: “Use strong evidence to show something works”. His school are using the middle leaders to look into the attainment gap of their disadvantaged children.

Gareth Mills, Head of Enquiring Schools at NFER said: “This programme gives school leaders the confidence to step away from political rhetoric. Today I’ve encouraged them to think about tools, other than just assessment data, to help them capture their starting points”.

He continues: “We’ve already looked at why evidence-informed enquiries are one of the most effective approaches to CPD and what the evidence base already tells us. In the next session, we’ll do a check on progress and share how our enquiries are going. I’m looking forward to seeing their results.”

Find out more about Enquiring Schools.