Self-Review Tool
For research engagement in schools and other education providers

A FREE online tool to help you review how research-engaged your school or college is, using eight key statements.

Self-review tool | About the tool

Using the Self-Review Tool with your school improvement plan

The evidence

There is much evidence that engagement with research and in enquiry helps schools improve. Schools that use academic or professional research findings to support change often have the best outcomes (Schleicher, 2011). Schools that adopt a culture of enquiry, underpinned by an understanding of academic or professional research, are also most likely to improve teaching and learning and improve outcomes for young people (CUREE, 2011). Our tool is designed to help you on this journey.

What does a research-engaged school look like?

Research-engaged schools are self-critical, evaluative and adaptive. Research is embedded in whole-school improvement processes and continuing professional development (CPD). They access and apply findings from others' research, conduct their own enquiry and often work in collaboration with other schools and/or researchers.

How can you use the Self-Review Tool to help with your school improvement plans?

Here are recommendations from NFER on how to get the most out of the Self-Review Tool. If you've done the 'Quick Review', NFER suggests you:

  1. Set up an account for your school or college
  2. Ask all your staff to do the 'Full Review'
  3. Look at your whole school summary and filter by roles
  4. Share your results with your stakeholders
  5. Discuss and review (particularly any different opinions from staff roles)
  6. Put together an action plan using the 'Next steps' in the report, the recommended resources and the filtered results for each role
  7. Link your action plan to your school improvement plan, by using research and enquiry to focus on your key objectives for school improvement
  8. Link your action plan to the work of departments or teams, in order to permeate your research-based school improvement objectives
  9. Link your action plan to the work of teachers in classrooms, try out different approaches to teaching and learning based on research and enquiry
  10. Ask your staff to repeat the 'Full Review' in a years' time
  11. Compare the results
  12. Update your action plan, again linked to your school improvement plan.

What do we mean by 'engaging with research and in enquiry'?

There are many different types of research. Throughout the tool you will see that we use the terms 'with research' and 'in enquiry'.

NFER can help...

If you would like help from an NFER Research Associate with this process, or with building research-engagement into your CPD programme (via training days or long-term facilitator-led programmes) please email or call 01753 637007.

We are always trying to improve our offer to schools and colleges. If you have any ideas for resources (either new products or existing resources that we could link to), please send them to us at or call 01753 637007.


The report layout is very good, with clear explanations and some guidance on what can be done to move forward. At this stage the short simple message is ideal to present to other leaders / governors."
Research Lead, Berkshire


Self-review tool | About the tool