We believe that developing effective practice stems from innovative evidence-based action research. Through working closely with our alliance partners, we are reflecting and evolving classroom practice. Some of our current and past projects are outlined below. If you would like more information or are interested in being involved in your own innovative project, please get in touch.
Measuring what we value: social and emotional development
At Fairfields School we recognise the need to not only measure academic progress but also personal development. Following discussions with mainstream colleagues Fairfields School developed a framework to:
- support teachers to make valid judgements about pupils’ progress towards non-curriculum outcomes;
- provide useful and reliable information about progress towards non-curriculum learning for parents and carers and those judging school performance.
Consideration was given to whether the framework:
- was compatible with school’s own assessments;
- would cause any un-necessary burdens including workload and cost implications;
- would require training and support.
Six schools in the west of the county piloted the materials up until December 2018 while six schools in the North of the County piloted the materials across 2018-2019.
Feedback from these schools was very positive. Please refer to the case studies below. Attention will now be given to developing a short training programme where the framework will be shared with colleagues so that they can measure what they value within their own school.
Schools involved in the pilot were:
Croyland Primary, Hazel Leys Academy, Kettering Park Junior School, Stanwick Primary School, Studfall Junior Academy, Whitefriars Primary
Spring Lane, Malcolm Arnold Prep, Earls Barton, Silverstone, Abbey Primary, Culworth Primary
If you would like any further information please contact Karen Lewis, Headteacher at Fairfields School.
Assessment for All Project
At Fairfields, we believe all children can achieve. We have created a developmental assessment which helps measure the small steps of progress children with SEN make in their learning. This research project is working with 9 mainstream schools (including 3 specialist units) looking at how this assessment can measure progress in line with their current school systems.
Northamptonshire SEND Peer Review Project
Alongside Maplefields Teaching School Alliance, we are currently leading a pilot project funded by the LA on The London Strategy SEND Review Guide. The guide provides a framework for schools to review their current provision and for reviewers to support and challenge the schools that they work with. The Northamptonshire pilot project aims to work with 30 schools across the LA to work in triads on the SEND review. The teaching schools will provide SLEs and leading SENCos to support schools in the self-evaluation process, to moderate their self-assessment and use best practice in other schools to identify next steps for SEND. The LA and teaching schools will quality assure the reviews occurring in schools and evaluate the impact of the project on SEND outcomes and SEND provision.
A child's early experiences of attachment are known to affect social and emotional development and the ability to form stable relationships throughout life. School life can be a trigger for pupils with attachment difficulties and therefore identifying barriers and making adjustments are key to achieveing a successful school day. The teaching school is currently involved in a project with other local TSA's surrounding Attachment Awareness in schools and is leading "Reconnect Training" for key staff. This will develop attachment awareness leads who will facilitate attachment awareness training in their own schools and disseminate to other schools across the county. This project is supported by SEND SLE's and the project will measure the impact over the course of an academic year.
NCTL Research Project
Can the development of the skills of a mentor impact on the progress of an ITT student?
Lesley Elder (Deputy Headteacher at Fairfields) has been involved in a large research project with the National College of Teaching and Learning focusing on effective pedagogy and the leading of a teaching school alliance, specifically the successful running of an Initial Teacher Training programme and the role of the in-school mentor. An overview of the project and Lesley’s findings can be accessed here.
One of the main recommendations of the project was the importance of thoughtfully identifying an appropriate professional to become the in-school mentor and ensuring they have the appropriate skills to support and develop their trainee. We have produced a toolkit to support schools in selecting and assessing the skills required for effective mentoring.
If you are interested in the completed project, a summative poster is attached here. For the full research paper, please email
We are also very pleased to attach the composite national research publication to which Lesley’s work contributed. (See Documents panel)
Teaching and Learning Seminars
An Evaluation of a Teacher Inquiry approach to support school improvement – final report Dr Val Poultney 20 April 2016
Our teaching and learning seminars approach to school improvement at classroom level, in which 21 of our Alliance schools participated in 2015-2016, has been independently evaluated by the University of Derby.
The full report is also provided. (See Documents panel)