Hannah Sharma is Assistant Headteacher of a school in Brixton, south London. She undertook this piece of research as Head of Languages in the academic year 2015-16 in response to changes in the assessment regime at GCSE level (the UK school certificate, generally taken at age 16). Her research looked into exploring a list of strategies recommended by Harris and Snow (2004:25) in conjunction with Harris’ (2000) six-stage process of strategy teaching, in order for beginner learners of Spanish to become less reliant on, and expectant of, teacher help. She had two focus groups, selected on the basis of prior attainment (as defined by their Key Stage 2 data), and wanted to look into how pupils with different histories of attainment grew in confidence and resilience in their approach to reading in a foreign language. She found that a change occurred in her classroom, and that with explicitly taught strategies and practice, pupils became markedly more autonomous and confident readers, relying less on the teacher and drawing more on their own resources.
Charlotte Parsons is a lecturer in a Further Education College in Greater London and carried out research with her own classes in 2015. The research focused on the delivering teaching and learning solely through eLearning tools. The research looked to assess the extent to which it engaged her learners and the implications that this change created not only for them for her as their teacher.
At this point of the year, lots of teachers will be breathing a massive sigh of relief having finished their classroom research projects; others will be chewing their nails thinking about the one they’re about to start.
So it’s timely to think about where all this work gets published.
Sophia Bobdiwala is the Head of Key Stage 3 English at a school in Hillingdon, London and carried out this research in her fifth year of teaching during the 2014-2015 academic year. Her enquiry explores the effects of paired reading on the participants involved. The Buddy Reading Scheme (BRS) is an approach to supporting and encouraging reading. It involves ‘pairing’ younger readers with older, more experienced students. The project investigates the effectiveness of this approach in relation to the pupils’ motivation and engagement. It offers an account of the BRS as experienced by different students, their responses and feelings about the project and the extent to which the scheme might be said to improve attitudes to reading. It is an exploratory investigation into the potential benefits and problems of a programme designed to support and develop pupils’ reading, their skills, but also their feelings about themselves as readers and their enthusiasm for reading.
Rebecca O’Reilly is a part-time teacher in a Year 3 inner-London Primary school and carried out this research in her own class in 2014. As a busy teacher, and mother to a toddler, Rebecca wanted the time consuming process of ‘next step marking’ to have as much impact on learning gains as possible, and therefore researched this within her own practice. The research trialled a success and improvement next step marking strategy in Literacy for a class of Year 3 children. The children’s perceptions of current and trialled next step marking comments were examined through questionnaires and videoed group interviews. Themes from the children’s responses were explored including perceptions of approval and disapproval, self-efficacy, ability and goal orientation.
Amy Green teaches in a large, mixed, non-selective secondary school in a borough with a grammar school system in southeast London. She carried out qualitative research in 2012-13 with a group of ‘able’ year 11 students to capture their own thoughts on what may hinder their achievement. ‘Able students often feature as an underperforming group’ she writes, ‘but research tends to focus on the views of adults’. Her findings suggest that in her context, classroom factors, not family or peer-group factors, had the biggest impact on achievement. The findings are used to make recommendations for establishing a school environment where high achievement is expected, planned for and celebrated.