Education South West is proud to be a Rights Respecting Academy. All of our schools have UNICEF Rights Respecting accreditation, which recognises our commitment to creating safe and inspiring places to learn, where children are respected, their talents are nurtured and they are able to thrive. Developing a Rights Respecting ethos in all our schools ensures that these values are embedded in daily school life, giving children the best chance to lead happy, healthy lives and to be responsible, active citizens, both locally and globally.
As part of Education South West, Kingsbridge Community College was one of the first 100 schools nationally to be designated as a Teaching School. This status recognises the outstanding practice in the school itself and its track record of working collaboratively to support the development of other schools. Our Teaching School Alliance, the South West Teaching School Alliance (SWTSA) was formed in September 2011. From this alliance Teaching School South West was developed.
When Teaching Schools made their appearance back in 2010, Kingsbridge and Ivybridge Community Colleges were jointly designated in that first cohort. From the beginning this was about building collaborative partnerships, using mutual challenge and support to improve outcomes for children. SWTSA was the concrete embodiment of that aspiration, and much has been achieved by staff and schools as a result.
Funding and designation of Teaching Schools ended on 31st August 2021. Those original aspirations live on through the new Teaching School Hubs. Kingsbridge and Colyton have both been designated as the two Teaching School Hubs covering all schools in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. We are building a new collaborative called the South West Institute for Teaching, SWIFT, to carry forward the best of the earlier models and bring you the best professional development landscape.
From September 2021 SWTSA has been renamed SWIFT South and will be part of Kingsbridge Teaching School Hub. As SWTSA did with Teaching Schools South West (TSSW), SWIFT South will bring you all the advantages that the scale of SWIFT can offer, contextualised for our locality.
We look forward to working together as members of this next iteration of the school-led system.
SWIFT South’s Purpose
SWIFT South’s work and success is focused on the following areas:
Providing tailored continuing professional development to staff across SWIFT South our Alliance. SWIFT South delivers its own CPD, as well as signposting access to an extensive number of discounted courses through South West Institute of Teaching (SWIFT);
Supporting the rollout of the Early Career Framework by acting as a delivery partner for SWIFT.
Working as a SWIFT partner, signposting EEF-endorsed programmes, in partnership with Kingsbridge Research School.
Working as a SWIFT partner signposting, facilitating, and delivering DfE-approved CPD in line with the Department’s Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development.
Supporting SWIFT with the rollout of the new National Professional Qualifications.
The EEF isn’t just a grant-funder, nor just a research organisation. It is a charity with a moral imperative – to support teachers and senior leaders to raise attainment and close the disadvantage gap – which roots its response to this educational challenge in the best available evidence.
The Research School Network
The Research Schools Network is a collaboration between the EEF and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) to fund a network of schools which support the use of evidence to improve teaching practice.
Launched in 2016, the Network currently numbers 37 schools: 27 Research Schools and 10 Associate Research Schools. The Research Schools Network aims to lead the way in the use of evidence-informed teaching, building affiliations with large numbers of schools in their region, and supporting the use of evidence at scale.
Kingsbridge Research School
Kingsbridge Research School, one of the founding Research Schools, works with other schools in the region to help them use evidence more effectively by:
encouraging schools to make use of evidence-based programmes and practices through regular communication and events
providing training and professional development for senior leaders and teachers on how to improve classroom practice based on the best available evidence.
By disseminating the existing evidence base and supporting schools to put it into practice, we aim to break down the barriers that have traditionally existed between high quality educational research and what really happens in classrooms.
We aim to provide colleagues across the region with the information and tools they need to engage with the existing research base in ways that will allow them to process, test and apply interventions for themselves without impacting on their ability to deal with the day-to ‑day challenges of teaching.
We aim to shift the focus of schools to what the evidence suggests really works for young people. Where questions exist over the efficacy of specific and often longstanding practices, we aim to put these practices to the test in our own school contexts and empower teachers to find out what really works for them and their students.
The principles of evidence-informed practice behind our work
Using evidence helps us avoid wasting resources that might be better deployed elsewhere. A key question from the EEF’s Implementation guidance report is, ‘Are there less effective practices that can be stopped to free up time and resources?’
Being informed means going beyond what the EEF’s CEO Professor Becky Francis has called ‘surface level compliance’ to the evidence – ‘the biggest threat to any change in education’. It’s not enough to look at the headline claims. We need to dive into the evidence to understand the purported mechanism of change behind any programme.
If we use evidence, we give ourselves a higher chance of success – we’re already following a good bet. The EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit is a great place to start, but remember to click through the links to dig into the evidence.
A focus on evidence develops awareness of good implementation. When looking at individual studies, we need to be attentive to context – how and where was a strategy used? With what support? Often, a theoretically sound approach will fail to have the desired effect because of poor implementation. Giving a strategy the best chance of success requires careful planning and monitoring. Using evidence this way helps to create an implementation friendly climate.
An evidence-informed profession that is better able to scrutinise claims and interrogate the reasons behind decisions is a more active participant in its own future. At the EEF say, evidence supplements expertise; it doesn’t supplant it.
An evidence-informed approach provides data and analysis for further improvement. Because we know the characteristics of a strategy, we are better able to monitor and evaluate its implementation and effect. This includes highlighting gaps in the evidence base.
It’s ethical. When researchers investigate a particular strategy, they do so with many more students or schools than any one teacher can. As well as helping us identify ineffective approaches, this helps us avoid bias around what does or doesn’t work. Take this parallel from the BMJ Best Practice site: ‘medical knowledge changes all the time. And what doctors used to think was the best thing to do, even a few years ago, might actually be considered harmful today.‘
Who’s Who in Kingsbridge Research School?
Jon Eaton is Director of Kingsbridge Research School.
Andy Brumby and John Rogers lead Cornwall Associate Research School, an extension of Kingsbridge Research School based at Trenance Learning Academy and Mounts Bay Academy in Cornwall.
Alison King is our Project Manager.
Our Evidence Leads in Education (ELEs):
Scott Davies, Westcountry Schools Trust
Zoe Milligan, Oldway Primary School
Freya Morrissey, Teign School
Helen Thorneycroft, Kingsbridge Community College
Debbie Weible, Oldway Primary School
Sandra Westlake, Dartmouth Academy
We are all designated Evidence Leads in Education (ELE), which means we have attended and continue to attend rigorous EEF training and ‘deep dives’ into the evidence. As well as this, we all lead training programmes based around our specialities. Although single specialities are listed here, many of us are trained in several diﬀerent areas, so our range includes behaviour, curriculum, SEN and Collaborative Learning amongst other things.
Whether new to headship or with some experience of school leadership, the rapidly changing school environment means that the role of headteacher is becoming increasingly complex and demanding. The School Leadership Support Service is designed to promote effective school leadership and the personal wellbeing of headteachers.
Founding member of Queen Street Group. A group of Multi-Academy Trust chief executive officers began meeting informally in June 2015. This group became a voluntary alliance that met regularly during 2016–18 to exchange operational insights, peer-to-peer. During 2017–18, the CEOs decided to create a formal legal entity to encourage and extend these discussions, leading to the Queen Street Group being incorporated in October 2018 with 17 Trusts in membership.
We Sparx Maths in our secondary classrooms to deliver personalised maths learning.
We know that one of the motivating factors for students undertaking independent learning is being set achievable challenges and provided with instant feedback. This is where personalised technologies will continue to help engage students learning at home.
Established in 2009 by Lord Baker and Lord Dearing to promote and develop UTCs, Baker Dearing Educational Trust created and owns the UTC brand and trademarks and licences their use to all UTCs. Over the past ten years, Baker Dearing has been the driving force behind new UTC openings and has provided ‘top-down’ direction to the programme, supporting new and existing UTCs to ensure the programme’s continued improvement and to embed UTCs firmly within the English education system.
“I created my charity just over ten years ago to support the establishment of University Technical Colleges (“UTCs”), and in doing so, provide young people with a relevant education in a fast-changing world. Ron Dearing and I developed the concept of UTCs because the schools’ system does not address the needs of employers for work-ready 18-year-olds with a technical education suited to the needs of the modern economy. The UTC technical education will be needed even more when we’ve defeated the Coronavirus”
Lord Baker – Co-founder of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust