The Big Interview: James Richardson

The Education Endowment Foundation has been at the heart of the developments in education research in recent years. The organisation is now taking its work a step further, having designed, launched and funded the Research Schools initiative. James Richardson, Senior Analyst at the EEF talks to us about the organisation’s support and aims for Research Schools.



Please tell us a little bit about your work and role within the EEF?

Well, my background is in teaching and before joining the EEF three years ago I was a teacher and senior leader at a secondary school. My role is to support schools to use evidence, and the Research Schools are a significant part of how we believe evidence can gain traction in the system.

What are your hopes and expectations for the research schools?

By September there will 23 research schools operating across the country. They are each going to play a very important and valuable role in ensuring that research is applicable to classroom practice in schools across their regions. There are three core aspects to what research schools will do, namely: providing regular communications and events to encourage many more schools to engage with research; providing training and professional development to support schools in using research evidence within their context; and encouraging and enabling schools to be innovative and supporting them to evaluate the impact of their evidence-based interventions.

What will the training and professional development support look like in practice?

This is about giving leaders and teachers the tools, skills and understanding for how to apply the research evidence to their own context. Research is a ‘social process’ and how we interpret and apply the research to our own context is critical. We’ve developed Guidance Reports on key areas, such as literacy and the deployment and use of teaching assistants, to help schools understand the implications of the research for their practice in

the classroom. We will be publishing other Guidance Reports in the coming months on numeracy, science, and all key areas of pedagogy. Our guidance report for making the evidence around the best use of teaching assistants actionable is already being used in Lincolnshire as part of the Mobilise project.

We’ve also developed a number of resources on assessment and evaluation to support schools in monitoring and evaluating interventions (https:// diy-guide/getting-started/) and the Research Schools will support schools to access and use these resources.

How do you see the EEF’s role evolving in this?

The Research School network is a collaboration between the EEF, IEE and the profession to ensure that evidence is as accessible and useful as possible to teachers. We have spent a lot of time ensuring that EEF reports, publications and tools meets the needs of schools. The Research Schools will play a key part in improving and developing these in the future.

What impact do you hope that the research schools will have had in three years’ time?

Our aim is that there will be a well-established network of twenty three schools who are able to act as conduits of evidence across the education system – championing research, making it relevant to practice, and supporting practitioners to implement it through low cost, high quality training.

Find out more about the EEF