Collaboration for effective teaching and learning.

Ian Thompson, Harry Daniels, Lorena Ortega Ferrand, Sarah Cox, Nicole Dingwall.

Funded by The John Fell Fund

On Tuesday 19th January 2016, Harry Daniels and Ian Thompson presented the findings of their research project on ‘collaboration for effective teaching and learning’ to Research Champions and Headteachers from participating schools. The research question for this project focused on the effect that the culture of the school has on teacher collaboration and on the attainment of vulnerable leaners (children at risk of not achieving). The presentation from this meeting can be accessed here: Collaboration ppt.

The collection of the data for this research project was facilitated by the Oxford Education Deanery Research Champions. Data was collected using online questionnaire and interviews to look at connections between teachers; both who sought advice from colleagues and who helped colleagues regarding vulnerable learners (a process of network analysis).

The principal findings of the research project are summarised below:

  • Schools with networks that extend beyond departmental boundaries are more effective in supporting vulnerable learners’ attainment and wellbeing.
  • School culture has a significant effect on patterns of collaboration.
  • Some teachers in schools, other than the SENCO, have high degree of centrality developed through the professional learning communities that operate within the school.

The implications of the research findings were discussed with Research Champions and Headteachers, and a number of useful resources were offered to benefit participating schools which are detailed below:

  1. The idea of ‘Teacher support teams’ which is described in detail in the book entitled ‘Teacher Support Teams in Primary and Secondary Schools’. Teacher support teams are school-based, problem-solving groups that cross department boundaries which function to support pupils indirectly through teacher collaboration. The principle behind these support teams is to make the most of the knowledge and skills of teachers already in a school.
  2. Moving forward, the research project will be observing the effect of collaboration on teacher practice using a number of observation schedules. Schools may find some of these useful in analysing teachers practice in support of vulnerable learners. Resources can be found on the presentation from the meeting Collaboration ppt and on Pam Sammons web page.

A follow on research project is currently underway analysing the relationship between teachers’ collaboration patterns, their teaching practices and student literacy, learning and engagement.

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