Research School Network: Putting evidence into work at North Yorkshire Coast Research School A collaborative approach to implementing meaningful and sustainable change


Putting evidence into work at North Yorkshire Coast Research School

A collaborative approach to implementing meaningful and sustainable change

by North Yorkshire Coast Research School
on the

Angela Harrison, a school improvement leader and EEF Content Lead, reflects on how her and her colleague, Emily Smeaton, both from North Yorkshire Coast Research School, are working collectively with school leaders in Yorkshire to implement meaningful and sustainable change.

When people work collaboratively during implementation, they can share knowledge and expertise, bounce ideas off each other, and solve problems together.

As a school improvement leader and EEF Content Lead I have been working with my colleague Emily Smeaton, also from North Yorkshire Coast Research School, and we have witnessed the positive impact cross school and cross trust collaboration can have when striving to implement strategic change.

Central to the EEF’s Putting evidence to work – A school’s guide to implementation is the recognition that successful implementation requires more than just the careful adoption of evidence informed approaches; it is above all a collaborative and social process driven by how people think behave and interact.’ A year ago, when Emily and I were first given the opportunity to bring together a group of local school leaders to explore the implementation challenges of embedding effective learning behaviours little did we realise just how powerful the sharing of knowledge, experience and also hindsight would be.

Collaboration has become the cornerstone of this endeavour, as stakeholders come together on a regular basis to share expertise, resources, and insights. By fostering a culture of collaboration, local leaders are drawing on the collective wisdom of their staff, and – equally as important – each other, to further drive innovation and improvement in their individual schools. On reflection, the stakeholders involved in the Achieve Project have adopted the behaviours that drive effective implementation listed under Recommendation 1:

- Engage people so they can shape what happens while also providing overall direction.
- Unite people around what is being implemented, how it will be implemented, and why it matters.
- Reflect, monitor, and adapt to improve implementation

Implementation diagram

By embracing the principles outlined in the EEF’s New Implementation Guidance Report and fostering a culture of collaboration within and beyond their walls, Emily and I are witnessing how schools can navigate and guide each other through the complexities of implementing educational change.

On this occasion we knew, that for effective implementation, the staff at each of the schools needed to engage, unite and reflect. However, we discovered the power of working collaboratively across schools helped us to enhance our ability to Engage people through clear communication and active guidance’ and Reflect on fit and feasibility’. It made our implementation planning stronger than it would have been otherwise and gave staff confidence when implementing change in their own schools.


Department For Education (2015) Effective School Partnerships and Collaboration for School Improvement: A Review of the Evidence.
EEF (2021) Effective Professional Development Guidance Report
EEF(2024) A School’s Guide to Implementation Guidance Report
Dylan Wiliam, Creating the Schools Our Children Need: Why What We’re Doing Now Won’t Help Much (And What We Can Do Instead) (Learning Sciences International, 2018)

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