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Research School Network: Developing Practice Through Teacher Inquiry Groups How the EEF Implementation Guide and the evidence around effective CPD are framing our approach to CPD this year.


Developing Practice Through Teacher Inquiry Groups

How the EEF Implementation Guide and the evidence around effective CPD are framing our approach to CPD this year.

by Durrington Research School
on the

In September 2018 we began the implementation of Inquiry Questions’ at Durrington. The idea was for teachers to identify an aspect of their classroom practice that they wanted to develop, through the appraisal process, frame this into an inquiry question and then engage in purposeful practice throughout the year to address this question. Here are some examples of some inquiry questions:

What impact does interrogative questioning delivered during the course of the year have on deeper understanding of key concepts to improve attainment for my KS4 classes?


What impact does deliberate teaching of and retrieval practice of Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary delivered over a year have on quality of exam responses (46 mark questions) for middle ability girls in my KS4 classes?


What impact does breaking down questions using meta-cognitive techniques delivered over 1 year have on GCSE results for my Year 11 M ability students?


Our objectives for this were:

- for teachers to take ownership of their CPD through identifying an aspect of their practice to develop;
- for teachers to engage with the research evidence around their chosen theme;
- to improve the outcomes of our students through embedding a more evidence informed approach to teaching.

You can read more about the rationale for this here.

When implementing something like this across a large secondary school like Durrington, the EEF Implementation Guidance Report offers some sage advice:

Once a new programme or practice is integrated into the normal routines of a school, there is a risk of assuming that the implementation process requires no further leadership support; however, to ensure that the changes brought to a school can be sustained, school leaders should continuously acknowledge, support, and reward its use.”


This has informed how we are developing our approach to inquiry questions this year. In order to sustain the impact beyond the September fanfare of when teachers come up with their inquiry question, we need to ensure that we provide opportunities for teachers to:

- engage with the research evidence around their inquiry question throughout the year;
- discuss and share their successes and challenges with colleagues throughout the year, as they work on developing their practice;
- have access to coaching support to develop their practice;
- evaluate and review their work throughout the year.

Teacher Inquiry Groups will be the vehicle to deliver this. Teachers have framed their inquiry question around one of four threshold concepts:

- Formative Assessment
- Metacognition
- Vocabulary deficit
- Cognitive Load Theory and memory

On three INSET days throughout the year, teachers with an inquiry question on one of these themes e.g. metacognition, will meet as a Teacher Inquiry Group. During these sessions they will explore sources of research evidence linked to their theme. They will then use this to inform their plans for mobilising this in their classroom and discuss this with colleagues who are looking to tackle the same issue. They will also discuss how they will review and evaluate the impact of their work as the year progresses. In between each of these three sessions, teachers will have access to coaching support to help sustain their work.

Evidence from Bolam & Weindling (2006), Centre for Research Evaluation in Education (2011) and Teacher Development Trust (2012), suggests that CPD is most effective when it is targeted, evidence-based, collaborative, sustained and evaluated. Teacher Inquiry Groups fit all of these criteria as a form of CPD. It is targeted as it is personalised to teachers’ needs and evidence based, as the sessions will involve teachers engaging with sources of research evidence around their chosen teacher threshold concept. Furthermore, they are collaborative and sustained as colleagues who are looking to address the same issue, will be working together at regular points throughout the year. Finally, teachers will evaluate the impact of their work at the end of the year.

We will keep you posted throughout the year as the project progresses.

– Shaun Allison, Director of Research School

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