Charlotte is an English teacher in east London and carried out this research during the 2013-2014 academic year. This explorative study provides a snapshot of the process of learning how to write academic essays at A Level. The research involved three sixth form students who studied one or more of the following Humanities subjects: English, Geography and History. Charlotte sought to understand the differences in essay writing across the various Humanities subjects, and how well students negotiate these differences. In her conclusion she outlines a series of practical ideas that could create a more joined-up approach to teaching the essay across the Humanities at her school.
Lucy is a Second in charge of the English department at a leading secondary girls’ independent school in West London. She carried out this school-based research in 2014, in the spring term of her third year of teaching, focusing on her Year 8 class of thirty learners. Lucy wanted to explore how in-role drama activities, particularly writing in role, could be used in the classroom to support and develop students’ understanding and writing in English, principally with Year 8’s study of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Lucy became intrigued with the concept of ‘role’ and the type of learning that takes place when students are immersed in dramatic activity and thus set out to examine the potential benefits and advantages of in-role work in the study of literature.
Mary King is an English teacher with responsibility for A level in an Academy in Lewisham. Confused students and unpredictable exam results inspired her to reflect on learning in relation to the AS English Literature exam unit Aspects of Narrative, (the AS, or Advanced Subsidiary Level, is the first year of the A Level, and is usually taken at age 17, in young people’s penultimate year of school). What started as an investigation into the Literature curriculum and the gap between GCSE and A level study rather unexpectedly turned into a project on the use of creative writing in AS lessons. She found herself researching the relationship between creativity, culture, and agency, and looking closely at the creative writing and class discussions of her two year 12 groups. One of the things that most surprised her was the social nature of much of the learning that took place around re-creative tasks: discussing, negotiating and reading work aloud was a key aspect of lessons centred around re-creativity.
Luke Rolls, a primary school teacher and mathematics subject leader, investigated children’s experiences of the Cognitive Acceleration in Maths programme to evaluate what potential it had for developing the elusive concept of learning autonomy. His research was conducted with a year four maths class in an outer-London school in an area of socio-economic disadvantage, using ‘Let’s Think’ as a means of developing problem-solving and conceptual approaches to learning mathematics, to counter cognitively-passive, procedurally-focussed lessons. The study researched pupils’ responses to the lessons and wider views they held about modes of teacher instruction and learning, and found evidence to support the contention that the teaching approach adopted promoted pupil autonomy—notwithstanding contextual factors such as the impact of classroom ethos and the effect of thinking skills.
Karina Hussein was working in a complementary school dedicated to the Religious Education of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim youth in Toronto, Canada when she conducted her study in 2014. This research explores the use of background music in a religious education classroom and focuses on the impact on engagement and behaviour made by the introduction of background music in the classroom. The music selection used in this study included instrumental music, popular music and several other genres including R&B, Hip Hop, Rock, Spanish, Arabic, and Bollywood music.
Rhiannon Mapleston is the Art and Literacy Coordinator at a community primary school in East London. She carried out this research in her own Year Three classroom during her fourth year of teaching in 2014. Rhiannon has been attending weekly taught life drawing classes at the Royal Drawing School (formerly known as The Princes Drawing School) for six years. She wanted to use classroom research to develop her teaching of drawing skills and consult the children on what they thought of using drawing as a tool for learning. Through action-research, Rhiannon examined whether a drawing intervention had any effect on the children and how able they thought they were at drawing, whether they enjoyed drawing and how important they believed drawing to be.
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.
Shezeleen Kanji was working in a complementary school in the Shia Imami Ismaili Religious Education (RE) system in Toronto, Canada when this study was conducted in 2010. In this system, denominational RE classes are run by professional teachers in Ismaili places of worship outside of mainstream school hours. A new programme for the Religious Education of Ismaili Muslim secondary age pupils was in its inaugural phases at this time. Prior to the introduction of this new programme, no data had been collected around student emotional and social needs. Based on her observations in the RE spaces in the west sector of Toronto she noticed some students appeared to lack self-esteem, felt isolated among their peers, were victims of bullying, felt stressed about coming to the RE space, or had physical or learning disabilities that could not be addressed. At the time, there was no parent council or a platform for students to be able to voice their needs. In addition, the governance model of this system was also still evolving; there was felt to be a need for an institutional model with a focus on addressing the needs of the community’s young people. This study examined the organization and governance structures for the complementary school programme to see if they could be altered to best care for student needs specifically in the areas of academic, social, emotional, safety and security needs.
Arzina Zaver was working in complementary education when she conducted her study focused on recreating a third space in a religious education classroom in Vancouver, Canada. Her understanding of third space largely draws on the ideas of the literary theorist Homi Bhabha but has been re-defined within the context of this study to refer to a space of dialogue for Shia Ismaili Muslim adolescents
Alice Pascoe Hale is a Key Stage 2 teacher and Head of Learning and Teaching in an inner-London primary school. She conducted her research after becoming increasingly aware that the children she was teaching found it difficult to select books that they wanted to read, and to concentrate on reading. Many expressed negative attitudes towards reading, and in particular, towards reading at school. She began to think that the way we teach children to read and relate to books in England has gone badly wrong. The aim of the research was to better understand, from the point of view of the children, how they experienced learning to read at school. To do this, she created a Photographic Instrument, which enabled children to tell their own story of reading and the process of learning to read, from their own point of view.