Support for developing collaborative action research / self-evaluation at St Kentigern’s High School in the context of the Attainment Challenge

This project involved a team from the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change (ROC) working collaboratively with the senior leadership team and teachers at the St Kentigern’s High School as well as local authority advisors to support and research the development of the schools’ inclusive self-evaluation framework informed by effective practice and the research literature.

The project was one strand of a wider, on-going programme of work at ROC that works with educators, local authority officers and policy makers to help implement and research collaborative enquiry-informed educational improvement approaches. The original aim of this small project had been to co-design with teachers a limited programme of collaborative action research (CAR) that would help inform the school’s pedagogy. However, following discussions with the school’s leadership team, it was agreed that there was limited capacity for meaningful CAR activity. The ROC team and their local authority colleagues were, therefore, asked to instead provide support and advice on the school’s development of an overall self-evaluation framework.

This involved working with the school’s SLT, the local Attainment Adviser and local authority advisers to inform the development of the school’s self-evaluation planning matrix to reflect evidence and data provided by staff consultation, validated self-evaluation and available school statistics and secondary sources. This resulted in a robust, yet flexible, self-evaluation framework that allowed the school leaders and teachers to set out evidence informed objectives, projected outcomes, methods and activities to deliver the outcomes and identification of impact criteria with associated types of evidence required. The school was able to implement this, and an early development was the decision to introduce collaborative learning across all year groups, supported by a programme of development inputs from an external agency.

While the original aims of the project were altered, this reflected the school’s context and needs of staff and learners. The project demonstrated the need to conduct inclusive dialogue to understand context and assess the conditions for CAR. Indeed, using reflexive accounts of practice allowed the research to inform the ROC team’s model of CAR and education systems change and practical techniques.

The expertise of the ROC team, together with that of partners in this collaboration, enabled the school to establish an enhanced self-evaluation framework that could be used and adapted over time to inform school planning and improvement approaches. This activity and process also helped develop SLT and teachers’ skills regarding school evaluation and improvement. The work took place in the context of the attainment challenge and use of the Pupil Equity Fund and helped the school and partners develop approaches that have the potential to be adopted more widely across the participating Local Authority.

PI and Co-Is

PI - Kevin Lowden, University of Glasgow, School of Education

Co-I - Stuart Hall, University of Glasgow, School of Education

Deja Collier

Start and End Date

01 April 2017 - 01 October 2017

Funder and Funding Amount

St Kentigern’s High School / PEF: £4000