In brief

4th November 2005 at 00:00
POSTCARDS FROM RESEARCH-ENGAGED SCHOOLS. By Caroline Sharp and others. National Foundation for Education Research. pound;25

Research doesn't rate very highly with teachers. It's ivory tower stuff, they usually say, unrelated to the practicalities of the daily round.

Besides, there's no time. But what if the research is your own: shared with your colleagues, focused on the sort of issues that confront you daily? Would that make a difference? If so, how would you set about doing it?

Postcards from Research-engaged Schools offers convincing answers to both questions. Primary and secondary schools deemed to be research-oriented were invited to collaborate with NFER researcher-mentors on the schools'

choice of topics. Fifteen schools accepted the challenge: here, in 80 jargon-free pages, is the story of what happened.

The title is significant. The essence of research is that it's open-ended.

It's a journey whose route and destination may change: hence the postcards.

The projects that are outlined here - they range from improving writing through drama or the impact of accelerated learning or of e-learning to raising parental involvement - are down-to-earth issues for almost every school.

For the participants, the journey matters as much as the destination.

Research-engaged schools become learning schools as well as teaching schools, and teaching becomes collaborative and much less lonely. Research data becomes more accessible, and professional development takes on new meaning.

Action research is not for every school, and realistically not for every teacher. If, however, you work in a school that thinks about its teaching and its practices and that shares that knowledge, you'll find these pages helpful and possibly inspiring.

MICHAEL DUFFY

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