Research School Network: Introducing our ELE team – Jack Tavassoly-Marsh we are really excited to introduce our newly assembled team of ​‘Evidence Leads in Education’ (ELE)

Introducing our ELE team – Jack Tavassoly-Marsh

we are really excited to introduce our newly assembled team of ​‘Evidence Leads in Education’ (ELE)

by Durrington Research School
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I have been teaching geography for the past 11 years, having studied for a BA in Geography at the University of Exeter, followed by undertaking a PGCE at the University of Portsmouth. I am currently Vice Principal at Farnham Heath End School, in Surrey, and I lead on teaching and learning across the curriculum, as well as staff development. In my time at FHES, I have been KS3 lead for geography, Head of Geography, Assistant Headteacher and now Vice Principal, and rather excitedly also get the chance to run and organise researchED Surrey, after getting involved in researchED, via the first researchED Durrington, back in 2018. I have also produced a research-informed T&L website, which can be found at

I am very excited to be joining Durrington Research School as an Evidence Lead in Education for two reasons. Firstly, I am joining a team with a wealth of experience, which will continue to challenge and further my understanding of using appropriate research for the leadership of schools and effective classroom practice. Secondly, my main passion is working with schools and teachers on research-informed approaches to teaching and learning, something which I have been doing for the last three years, within our MAT, but this role will allow me to share this enthusiasm and passion to a wider audience.

As young people only get one chance with their education, it is my belief that this one chance needs to be as effective as possible. Research-informed classroom practice and school leadership, allows us to find out what is most likely to work, in specific contexts, and therefore allows us to focus on the best bets’, so that learning and schooling in a wider sense, is as effective as it can be. This directly challenges the notion of, we’ve always done it this way’, to make sure that the way things are being done, have a strong evidence base behind them, that has been rigorously assessed for appropriateness for educational settings.

During the current Covid-19 lockdown period of remote learning, I have found it imperative to focus on how I explain difficult concepts, and have had time to thoroughly sequence my explanations, following specific advice given in Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction. Prior to the explanation of new content, each pre-recorded video or live lesson starts with a review of previous content, ensuring that students become more fluent in their ability to recall content. After reviewing previous content, any new content is introduced and explained in small steps, with stages of practice built in between the steps, with guided-instruction. I have spent a large amount of time thinking about how to model more effectively for students, simplifying diagrams and keeping annotations around diagrams and text to a minimum, to ensure distractions are at a minimum. Worked examples are critical here, and the use of these, alongside non-examples, has been pivotal to get students to understand new content remotely. Purposeful pauses in pre-recorded videos has also allowed time for students to practice independently. Whole-class live feedback (or pre-recorded feedback) has then allowed me to guide students through exemplar answers, for them to make small improvements and check their understanding further.

However, despite the positives of spending more time around these aspects of instruction and explanation, the ability to question skilfully, and to rigorously check for understanding is far more challenging, and in my opinion, no way near that quality of what takes place in the classroom. I am a firm believer in live feedback, allowing a student to make changes there and then, to guide them towards their best effort, the first time around, and this isn’t possibly remotely. This, alongside the fact that a number of students aren’t accessing or completing the work, are major challenges for educators. There will be an attainment gap between those that have completed work, and those that haven’t and there will also be a large attainment gap within those that have completed the work, but to a varying degree of understanding. These are the challenges that we face upon our return to what we call normal’, whenever that may be. One positive of remote learning is that the videos will be there, for students that will need them to catch up, helping to mitigate the gap in the future. The time spent planning explanations has been invaluable and will improve my teaching upon our return. Co-planning for explanation, is the way to ensure that the desired curriculum is enacted in the same way upon our return.

Trying to close these gaps is going to take a great deal of skill, putting what works’ as a priority, and ensuring that all classroom time and home learning time is maximised and as effective as possible. Research-informed practice will need to lead the way, and as part of Durrington Research School, I’m hoping to help more students, teachers and leaders on this journey.

Jack Tavassoly-Marsh

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