The challenges involved in making teaching a research-based profession are monumental. At last year's ResearchED conference in London, academic and writer Dr Ben Goldacre claimed it would be 20 to 30 years before evidence meaningfully informed classroom practice in a systematic way.
It is still rare for schools to use research evidence. The full-time working teacher with a family to sustain has little leisure for reading research papers. Even if we find a way of parcelling up research in a form that the individual classroom teacher will read, the next challenge is for them to change their classroom practice. And if, extraordinarily, they are prompted to do that, the final challenge - and possibly the most important - is to measure the impact of this pedagogic change on the students' outcomes. And what happens next if the data says the intervention hasn't worked?
We must also accept that the vast majority of teachers' action research projects are methodologically flawed. Having worked with Dr Jonathan Sharples at the University of York on a small research trial on oral feedback to Year 9 English students, I have come to realise that the mere task of isolating a variable is incredibly difficult.
Encouraging individuals to reflect on pedagogy is important but, in reality, most action research projects do not quality as educational research. Developing links with higher education researchers will be crucial if schools are to understand how best to use the pedagogical knowledge they have gleaned.
At Huntington School, we decided to change our structures to accommodate our increasing focus on using evidence to develop our teaching. We have appointed a teaching and learning research lead at the heart of our school leadership team, whose key responsibility will be to coordinate the dissemination of high-quality teaching and learning research across the school.
This person will head a voluntary team of research-interested teachers and act as a resource for colleagues who would like bite-sized summaries of the best information. Research-based procedures will measure the impact on students' outcomes. The team will be responsible for providing all CPD provision.
Finally, we are keen to find out whether school-based educational research really is, as David James suggests, the anti-gimmick. We are working with the Education Endowment Foundation, the University of London's Institute of Education and Professor Rob Coe from the Centre of Evaluation and Monitoring in Durham University on a 40-school randomised controlled trial on the efficacy of research in schools.
We must all tread carefully. Our trial will explore just how much impact educational research can have on schools. We think it is important, in the spirit of the best research, to keep asking questions of educational research itself; the last thing we want is to look back in 10 years' time and conclude that school-based research was just another fad.
John Tomsett is headteacher at Huntington School in York
The specialist provider
Queensmill School in West London has a tradition of and commitment to research and development (Ramp;D), including leading Ramp;D for the West London Teaching Schools' Alliance and signing up to the Pan-London Autism Schools Network research group (PLASN-R). The school also runs a postgraduate programme in autism for teachers in partnership with the University of Roehampton.
Nevertheless, Queensmill wished to review its Ramp;D in light of current research and to make its approach more strategic and systemic. To that end, it established an Ramp;D board to lead and monitor relevant activities.
The board consists of an Ramp;D coordinator (which is a new middle-leadership role), a representative of the senior leadership team, a class teacher with a keen interest in research and a parent member, who assists in determining how the board communicates research issues to the wider world. The school has also appointed me as an external Ramp;D consultant to act as a "broker" between research and practice.
The board is responsible for creating a strategic Ramp;D plan. Last year, this included a mix of process and development activities. The process actions included writing a brief Ramp;D policy, establishing application and ethics procedures for internal and external research requests, and setting up an Ramp;D database to record and monitor details of each study.
The research focus, meanwhile, was informed by the school improvement plan; by surveys conducted with staff, parents and students to identify their research priorities; and by current national and international research agendas in autism, because the school specialises in this area.
Queensmill has had to commit resources to the project but is already feeling the benefits. The school is now clearer about what types of research it will pursue and what it will not, which means it can use its resources more effectively. It is also finding it easier to identify groups in the school community that are at risk of being "overused" for research purposes.
In addition, feedback from an independent inspection has highlighted that, even at this early stage, parents feel more informed about what is happening in school.
The focus of the forthcoming academic year will be on measuring the impact of the actions identified in the strategic plan and of the board itself.
Dr Catherine Carroll is a senior lecturer in special and inclusive education at the University of Roehampton and external research and development consultant for Queensmill School in West Kensington, London
The independent school
For any school to fully engage in research, it is vital for traditional hierarchical models of support to become more about genuine collaboration based on the individual school's needs, rather than standardising arbitrary concepts of "outstanding" or "excellent".
To this end, from September we will establish a Wellington Learning and Research Centre which will serve as a focal point for staff and other partners to mobilise, evaluate and disseminate effective research.
Our research will be supported by our higher education institution partnership. We decided to set this up with an institution that has expertise in areas of interest to us, such as growth mindsets, independent learning and pupil resilience. Harvard University in the US fitted the bill, so we have entered a two-year research study partnership with Harvard International Research Schools Network.
The first step will be to engage with the literature and wider evidence base. Then we will collect baseline data from the students and, at the end of year one, evaluate that evidence. This will inform the design of a series of interventions, which will be trialled with as big a sample as possible across the second year of the partnership.
At the end of this two-year process, we hope to be better informed practitioners and in a position to inform the wider conversation. We are also hoping to partner with the Education Endowment Foundation to evaluate the project's impact.
Three of our teaching school partners - The Bulmershe School and Waingels College in Reading and St Crispin's in Wokingham - will be working with us on the initiative.
Another important dimension of embedding research in schools is how it supports and augments existing CPD. One of the most efficient and rigorous ways of doing this is a research lesson study programme, so we will be continuing our partnership with the National Teacher Enquiry Network.
Carl Hendrick is head of learning and research at Wellington College in Berkshire
The primary school
Wallscourt Farm Academy
Developing a shared community of learners is central to our vision at Wallscourt Farm Academy, and a year after we opened we are beginning to realise that vision.
The academy is close to the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol. Building on existing strong relationships between the two institutions, Wallscourt and UWE have made a joint commitment to ongoing research. Students and lecturers from UWE - both inside and outside the university's education department - have set up research projects at our school, including developing a community of readers and exploring how teaching is affected by the school environment.
How to capture the data effectively has been central to these projects: the researchers have focused strongly on measuring impact and outcomes as well as documenting learning. Those involved have also developed a shared blog in order to disseminate lessons to a wider audience.
All staff have demonstrated a commitment to research and development, with a strong focus placed on shared practice to inform pedagogy. Teachers and teaching partners have been working with the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education to examine the research on teaching and learning and development in the early years and at key stage 1.
We began the year by analysing what constituted effective research and development. We combined this with establishing a clear and shared understanding of how our practitioner-led research integrated with the school strategic vision and development plan.
With this grounding, teachers and teaching partners then looked closely at learning and assessment. They have focused on areas such as the use of questioning strategies, positive touch through peer massage and its effect on personal, social and emotional development, and using the outdoor environment to develop skills in literacy and mathematics. We allotted time for planning, actioning, reviewing and developing each aspect of the research projects to ensure the maximum opportunity for informing teaching and learning.
This will continue over the coming year. We will use new technologies to enable regular, real-time learning to be captured, examined and unpicked, so that the concept of research to inform pedagogy and practice is strongly aligned with authentic activity in the classroom.
Susie Weaver is principal at Wallscourt Farm Academy in Bristol