Membership of the Chartered College of Teaching opened last month and with it, the opportunity for teachers who join to access 2,000 academic journals and books through the Chartered College's research database.
There has already, quite rightly, been discussion and debate about whether busy teachers will have the time (and indeed the motivation) to search through this mountain of research, the skills to critically evaluate it, and the means to identify ways to make use of it in their teaching. Crucially, will it help change classroom practice for the better?
For some teachers, access to a database of education research is enough to make a difference - costs for access to individual papers or journals can be prohibitively high, and it has been great to hear from new members about the ways they have already benefited from the research they have been able to access through their membership. However, for many more, access to research marks only the beginning of something - the first stepping stone, if you like, in the Chartered College of Teaching's mission of bridging research and practice to support an evidence-informed teaching profession.
So what does the rest of the picture look like? Over the past months, the Chartered College of Teaching team has been working closely with teachers to understand how they might engage with and in evidence, learn from what else is out there, and work collaboratively with each other – and the role that can be played in this by the Chartered College’s forthcoming website, journal and regional communities. In the coming months the resources and tools made available to members will continue to grow, with the needs of teachers – our members – being central to everything we do.
In designing our offer, we have built both on feedback gathered through teacher focus groups around the country and on existing evidence around teacher CPD, including the Department for Education’s standard for teachers’ professional development; the research on developing great teaching carried out for the Teacher Development Trust by Steve Higgins, Philippa Cordingley, Toby Greany and Rob Coe; and work on teacher professional learning and development by Helen Timperley et al.
Five key principles have emerged from our research, aligning closely with the capability, motivation and opportunity (CMO) model of evidence-informed decision-making by practitioners designed as part of a piece of work by the Alliance for Useful Evidence. These principles will be at the core of our ongoing work:
- In order to engage effectively with research, teachers need the motivation to do so. This will include evidence-informed practice becoming the norm within the professional culture; career pathways that take account of teachers’ engagement with research, including Chartered Teacher status; and from evidence that engaging with and in research will improve their practice and the outcomes for their students.
- Teachers need to be able to access evidence – both to original research papers in our journal and through the research database that we have already made available for members, and to useful research summaries and collections that are closely focused on their needs and priorities.
- Teachers need support to develop the skills to interpret and interrogate research, to enable them to evaluate the quality of research and its potential relevance for their practice. Our platform and regional communities offer will include development opportunities, reference materials and access to peer and expert support.
- Crucially, teachers need strategies to make use of research evidence, through opportunities for collaboration and reflection - it is this process of reflection and engagement that will transform the research into something that is useful in practice and has an impact on learners. Our face-to-face regional communities, events and online platform will provide a means for high-quality discussion and debate around research and evidence.
- Finally, teachers need opportunities to engage in their own research to create evidence. Whenever the regional communities meet, there will be an opportunity to test an approach in the classroom, or provide feedback from experience. Members of the Chartered College will be given support to engage in research, and the Chartered College’s journal and online platform will provide potential publishing routes for individuals and groups of teachers.
As we develop our offer, there will continue to be opportunities for teachers to shape the direction of our work; please keep an eye out for our requests for feedback in the coming weeks as we develop our online platform, and please do tell us what you want from the Chartered College to help you to make better use of evidence in your practice.