Research School Network: Working in Partnership How Durrington Research School and the West Sussex School Effectiveness Team are working in partnership this year.

Working in Partnership

How Durrington Research School and the West Sussex School Effectiveness Team are working in partnership this year.

by Durrington Research School
on the

This year we are delighted to be working in partnership with the West Sussex School Effectiveness Team and schools across West Sussex. This partnership is focused on one of the most stubborn challenges faced by school leaders up and down the country – eliminating the impact of educational disadvantage on learning. This is more important now than it has ever been:

Whatever the impact school closures have had on widening the attainment gap, and whatever the adversity experienced by each child, what matters now is how we respond.”

Professor Becky Francis, CEO EEF

Our key objective for this partnership is to help schools unpick how educational disadvantage impacts the learning of the pupils in their schools and then work together to look at how the research evidence might help to address this. Throughout the partnership we will work with schools to co-construct a comprehensive implementation plan to address the issues that they identify. This article outlines the main phases of this partnership work.

Pupil Premium Review

Each school that has signed up for the partnership programme receives a Pupil Premium Review’ as a starting point for the programme. This is led by Marc Rowland and a team of experienced school leaders who have been trained by Marc and the Durrington Research School.

The reviews are taking place this half term (November/​December) and are either online or in school, lasting about 3 ½ hours. During the review, the reviewer will talk to leaders, teachers, pupils and governors, with a view to exploring how educational disadvantage impacts the learning in their school and how the school is addressing this. The reviews will:

1. Help schools to clarify the issues and challenges they are facing around educational disadvantage..
2. Help us to shape our training around this, so we are addressing the challenges schools want to address, as opposed to the challenges we might think they have.
3. Enable schools to shape clear success criteria as they look to implement new approaches to help address these issues.


Following the pupil premium review, each school receives a funded place on our Pupil Premium training programme, plus another programme that fits their improvement priorities. The programmes on offer are listed below:

Effective Use of the Pupil Premium Fund – This programme will explore the issues faced by disadvantaged pupils in your school; what the evidence says is the best way to address these issues; how to implement this in your school context; how to effectively evaluate the impact of this.

Leading Learning – this programme is aimed at school leaders who are responsible for leading a robust and evidence informed CPD programme in their school, to improve the quality of teaching and outcomes for all pupils.

Memory and Metacognition – following school closures last year, our students will need to be supported with becoming self-regulated learners. This programme will support schools with developing these approaches with their students..

Improving Literacy – we know that a vocabulary deficit and struggling with reading is a real learning block with our most disadvantaged students – across all subjects. This will have been amplified by the covid partial closures. This training programme will look at strategies to address this. There is a primary and a secondary version of this programme.

Curriculum, Teaching and Assessment – the renewed focus on curriculum intent, implementation and impact is a high priority for school leaders. This programme will look at how this can be addressed, using the best available evidence.

Behaviour and attendance – as students have missed a significant chunk of time in school, we will need to re-establish routines and relationships. This programme will look at using the best available evidence to do this.

KS2/3 Maths – this is a new programme, aimed at upper primary and secondary maths teachers, exploring evidence-informed approaches to teaching maths.

All of our training will be online this year, due to Covid restrictions. Each programme will share the research evidence around the topic being covered and help leaders to implement this effectively in their own schools. In order to ensure connectivity, the training programmes will be shaped around any emerging issues from the Pupil Premium reviews.

Wrap Around Bespoke Support

This is an essential part of the programme, as it supports the implementation of the input from training programmes, back in schools. Each school will be offered time for bespoke support from members of the Durrington Research School and/​or the West Sussex School Effectiveness Team to support them with implementing this work back in their school. This support will take a number of forms, depending on the focus for individual schools:

- Gap meetings – in between day 1 and 2/ day 2 and 3 of the training programmes to discuss progress and share effective practice.

- Leadership coaching around implementation; 

- Support for monitoring and evaluating implementation

- Follow up training and support in school e.g. whole staff training to support the work from the training programmes.

- Implementation planning and support;

- Paired visits to other schools.

Phase Two

We are really excited about this partnership. When schools work together like this to tackle a common issue like educational disadvantage, we can achieve remarkable things. However, this is only the start of the work. We look forward to working alongside West Sussex County Council now and in the future to support schools to remove inequalities and barriers to disadvantaged children’s achievement.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Shaun Allison

Director of Durrington Research School


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