Staff Research Background

Mayflower Community Academy Research and Inquiry Informed Practice Overview

Together we can… always learn and develop a culture of research through informed inquiry.

Teachers and Higher Level Teaching Assistants continuously go back to school to research how to maximise their impact on pupils learning. Staff are committed to continuously reviewing how best to:

‘increase the likelihood of favourable outcomes for pupils and their community’

(With permission from Stephen Tierney @LeadingLearner)

As head of research at Mayflower Community Academy I am proud to be in charge of this vital role, which will both enhance and further the future expertise of all staff as a major part of their continuing professional development. My own research has led me to explore the differences between learning between boys and girls and boys at Primary school level for my Masters at the University of Sheffield and then my Doctorate, where I looked in depth at what it means to educate the whole child:

My work seeks to identify how primary schools can meet the needs of the whole child, whilst arguing that traditional approaches tend to advocate the transfer of knowledge, often through a structured curriculum with the aim of producing citizens that serve the state in line with Government policy. It explores what can be learnt from the progressive movements, from ancient times to the present day, where the pedagogical focus has centred on the individual needs of the child and the broader holistic or ‘whole’ approaches required for this to take place.

Detailed research using focus groups in schools is used to explore a range of teachers’ views and understandings of the significance of the whole child, what bearing this has on how children learn and what they consider to be the actual requirements that will prepare children for the future. A data program is used to analyse the findings from these groups across a series of primary schools.

Having explored what teachers identify as the actual needs of pupils and the future role of the teacher, this work then seeks to propose possible avenues to meet these needs, irrespective of the confines of any Government agenda or difficulties and limitations of curriculum restriction.

“My thesis argues that schools could work more from Government curriculum reviews to enable themselves to build upon any available legislation, to construct their own curriculum that will result in them meeting the broader needs of their individual pupils.

This study utilises the findings of the school-based data and the literature to make recommendations for how pedagogy can be broad, real and contextualised, engaging the children’s interests in project based learning that makes a difference within the local community and in so doing, provides children with the skills that will prepare them for a new world not yet known.” Dr Colin Doctor

Staff understand the importance of moving from being simply well informed to becoming informed and wise. This requires them to develop inquiry groups and remain both outwardly and inwardly looking; networking beyond just the Academy. This style of study forms the basis of all continual professional development.

On this page you can get a sense of the introductory work we have done in beginning to develop culture of inquiry. Over the last two years the staff have undertaken departmental collaborative inquiry. This year we have shifted the focus from presentations of research projects, to informed inquiry forming the basis of staff CPD. This has involved the introduction of regular open journal clubs, where the staff look at articles and papers that help them to ask and answer questions that enable them to develop their pedagogy around our collective move to ‘’triad’ based teaching and learning.

“Evidence-based teaching involves the ‘conscientious, explicit and judicious use of best evidence from multiple sources (research, school data, experience, pupil and stakeholder values) in making decisions about teaching and learning so as to increase the likelihood of favourable outcomes for pupils” Dr. Gary Jones Expansive Education

Each Phase of the Academy has chosen an area of learning to investigate. At Mayflower we view learning as a life long process. We are privileged to work with such wonderful pupils and parents who will also join us on our learning journey. Our studies will enable us all to refine our teaching and provide the best possible learning opportunities for our community.

Every member of Teaching and HLTA staff has signed up to carry out or participate in an inquiry (this is in addition to Mayflower’s ongoing core focus of cross phase higher Maths. Maths subject knowledge development is led by, Professor David Burgess, of Plymouth University). As part of their ‘Inquiry Informed’ practice, Individuals are encouraged to go on and use their studies to gain a Masters level degree. The pupils at Mayflower are proud of their Teachers for studying and see themselves working side by side learning together.

Phase Question
Support Centre For pupils in the Support Centre does giving them individual processing time before intervening, affect their positive learning behaviour and reduce anxieties that may lead to negative behaviours?
Years 1 & 2 What strategies do we use to intervene in MEP learning and how does it enable us to effectively address misconceptions?
Years 3 & 4 does intervening look different for children who struggle to learn and children who emotionally struggle to learn?
Years 5 & 6 At Mayflower Community Academy, is teacher-directed research more effective in developing key learning skills for Year 5/6 pupils, than a child-led S.O.L.E research project?

The outcomes of this study will inform the next cycle of our Academy improvement plan and will be used to build a network of support across other professionals in other schools and settings including beyond education.

“In order to innovate and create something different, you often have to look outside your current profession and its most obvious circle of support’

Headteacher David Sammels

Staff will share outcomes and use findings to develop strategies and systems that will impact positively on performance. All outcomes of our inquiries will be published and made available for all stakeholders and partner organisations.

Dr. Gary Jones, from Expansive Education, is working alongside staff to develop an inquiry rich culture. Some of the main aims of Mayflower’s study are:

  • To become aware of evidence-based teaching.
  • To develop confidence and skills as an evidence-based practitioner.
  • Develop a plan to increase the both your own and the school’s capacity to support evidence-based practice
  • To find out how the expanding Education Network can assist the Mayflower Community Academy in developing as an evidence-informed Academy

Staff meet regularly with each other to feedback and share the outcomes of their wider reading and study. Each Phase of the Academy regularly engages in reading and inquiry journal groups. The aim of these groups is to:

  • To learn about the best evidence available to support the needs of pupils/staff in addressing a particular learning need.
  • To learn about important new evidence that may lead to a change in pedagogy, systems or approach to leadership and management
  • To develop skills at being better consumers of research in order to become more effective evidence-based practitioners.

Becoming an evidence and inquiry rich school, empowering educators to work in unison on both personal and collective areas of interest and development, is at the heart of our appraisal, performance management and marking/feedback policies. All staff at Mayflower sign up to engaging with a challenge and response reflective culture using evidence as the main driver for improvement.

“Until outstanding means perfect, we still have exciting and important work/learning to do”

Headteacher Mr. David Sammels

Research within the blocks takes place on a regular basis, either within fortnightly meetings or additional approved sessions.

Current Mayflower Research:

Blue Block

Blue Block Action Research presentation.pdf

Journals we are currently reading within our phase:
School 21 3 pillars – Oracy, PBL and well being
Carol Dweck: Revisits the ‘Growth mindset’
Effects of Attachment Disorder on Psychosocial Development
Journals previously read within our phase:
‘Improving Outcomes with Bloom’s Taxonomy: From Statistics Education to Research Partnership
By, Heather M. Bush, Jennifer Daddysman and Richard Charnigo
‘In full Bloom: Helping Students Grow Using the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.’
By Gary J. Bouchard
‘Skills for the 21st Century: teaching higher-order thinking’
By Robyn Collins
‘Time to Blossom: An inquiry into Bloom’s Taxonomy as a Hierarchy and Means for Teaching Legal Research Skills.’ By Paul D. Callister

Green Block

Green Block Action Research presentation

Journals we are currently reading within our phase:
Journals previously read within our phase:
‘Functional Analysis of Children’s Classroom Talk: A framework for understanding children’s discourse in educational contexts’. By Kristiina Kumpulainen and David Wray (1997).
‘Improving Oracy and classroom talk in English Schools: Achievements and Challenges.’ By Robin Alexander (2012). ‘Making sense of mathematical language in a primary classroom’. By Christine Elizabeth (2001).

Yellow Block- Nursery and Reception

Yellow Block Action Research presentation.pdf

Articles we are currently reading within our phase:
Ball, S.J. (2008). The Education Debate. Bristol: The Policy Press
Bancroft, S., Fawcett, M., Hay, P. (2008). Researching children researching the world. Trentham Books
Boden, M. (2004, 2nd Edition), ‘In a Nutshell’, in Boden, M. The Creative
Mind: Myths and Mechanisms. London: Routledge
Bruner (1986) Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Harvard University Press. Burnard, P., Craft, A., Grainger, T. et al. (2006).
Greenwood, M., Chappell, K., Craft, A., Rolfe, L., Jobbins, V. (2011). Dance Partners for Creativity: Practitioner Resource. Available from: (4.08.11)
Tickell, Dame C. (2011b). The Early Years Foundation Stage (EFYS) Review. Report on the Evidence. At (29.07.11)
Journals previously read within our phase:
The links between speech, language and communication needs and social disadvantage. All Party Parliamentary Group
Special Educational Needs Codes of Practice. Department of Education and Skills.
Supporting children with speech, language and communication needs. Julie Dockrell, Geoff Lindsay, Sue Roulstone and James Law.
The perspectives of children and young people who have speech, language and communication needs, and their parents. Sue Roulstone & Geoff Lindsay
Early Years Ofsted Report 2015. Ofsted

Red Block

Red Block Action Research presentation
Articles we are currently reading within our phase:
Slowmotion: Helping students address their misconception in physical science. Samatha Schwessinger. (CAR)
An evaluation of promoting alternative thinking strategies curriculum at KS1. Cheryl Curtis and Roger Norgate. (EB)
Teacher interventions in co-operative learning in Mathematics. Meixia Ding et al.
A strategy based intervention to improve math word problem solving skills of students with emotional and behavioural disorders. Peter Alter et al.
Setting the stage for academic success through antecedent intervention. Alicia M Kruger et al.
What does research evidence from systematic reviews suggest as effective interventions?
What is the current best ‘expert’ opinion?
Setting the stage for academic success through antecedent intervention. Alicia M Kruger et al.
Journals previously read within our phase:
Investigation of Peer Assessment in Primary School Cooperative Learning Groups with respect to gender, Yurdabakan, I (2009), Education 3-13 Vol 39, No 2, p153-169, Rouledge
The Action, Reflection, Modelling (ARM) Pedagogical Approach for Teacher Education; a Malaysia-UK report, Jarvis J, Dickerson C, Thomas L & Graham S (2014) Australian Journal of Teacher Education, vol 39, issue 3 worth asking.pdf

Research Feedback

I thought the action research was really strong this year from all year groups: purposeful and manageable.

The research has certainly helped us to reflect on our daily teaching practices and how we can enhance the children’s learning further. As Reading Lead, it was interesting to research about how reading interventions can be implemented successfully and has already had an impact by ensuring that interventions planned for September 2017 allow children autonomy over their learning. The research has also allowed for me to re-evaluate the use of Reading Logs and to flip the lens on home reading to involve the whole family and again allow the children choice and autonomy over their learning.

My team felt that the research project, in particular this year, was a very valuable process which enabled professionals to work collaboratively together to widen our expertise, discuss key research studies, collect key findings, review quantitative data and make a difference to everyday practice. We felt that the support from yourself and Colin was extremely helpful and enabled us to be guided in the right direction when required. We felt that each presentation from the different phases and year groups were of a high quality and standard.

With regards to the feedback for the research, I found the whole process to be of great use to me, especially as I am a subject leader for the Academy.

The research that was carried out by each block focused on several key areas of the Academy, for example SEND, interventions, targeted pupils etc. This was of great use to me as a subject lead as it can inform what further research needs to take place in key areas of the Academy. The whole process from journal readings was of great use to me as well as a practitioner as it highlighted key findings that could influence by practice and shape where we could move as an Academy.

I am looking forward to continuing with the research next year as this can drive and influence our key next steps, which as a subject leader is of great importance in my role.

“Mayflower is clearly at the cutting edge of primary research,” Lorwyn Randall, Head of Research, Kingsbridge Research Centre