Q & A with Helen Bellinger
16 July 2018
1. How would you describe this first year as a Research School?
We have had lots to learn in our first year but with the support of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), Institute for Effective Education (IEE) and our designated developer, Alex Quigley from Huntington Research School, we have made massive progress. The quality of the regional and national training has been exemplary and we have made some really positive relationships with other Research Schools. We planned our first year and set our strategic priorities carefully but have found that the work of the Research School has grown way beyond our expectations.
In summary; the journey this year has been fast, exciting, scary at times and yet exhilarating – a bit like a rollercoaster!
2. How is the Research School benefitting Doncaster?
We seem to be currently experiencing a bit of a ‘research revolution’ both nationally and locally, with a keen interest from those in education to be more evidence-informed. It has therefore been really important for the Research School to help schools to try to make sense of the research available and to signpost to relevant and useful sources of evidence. A growing number of teachers and leaders are now reading our newsletters and tweets, as well as accessing the website, attending briefings, networks and training programmes. We have also been successful in accessing additional funding to develop new programmes for targeted schools and have been able to draw on a tremendous amount of expertise from the other 21 research schools to support programme design and delivery. It is this collaboration, collective knowledge and skills which I feel will continue to benefit us most in our second year.
3. What do you feel have been the highlights and what are you most proud of?
Having a key role in the SMOA delivery plan and its priorities is a huge privilege and we are grateful for our strong relationships with the LA, the DfE and the SMOA partnership board. We are proud to represent the Doncaster opportunity area and play our part in supporting schools and other organisations to improve the outcomes and life chances of our children and young people.
I am also extremely proud of our Research School team, which has grown throughout the year and added significant capacity. The willingness and commitment of our strategic leads, business support and SLRs has been tremendous. They contribute to the work of the Research School in many ways, including attending national working parties and training, leading networks, facilitating training and writing blogs. They have become our research champions and we are lucky to have them.
4. What has most taken you by surprise this year?
The two day training, or aptly named Research School Boot Camp, which was part of the induction for new Research Schools at York University, was amazing! Although it was extremely intensive and intellectually challenging at times, it was also one of the best professional learning opportunities I have ever had. I never imagined myself ever attending a boot camp, with perhaps some pre-conceived ideas about their intention to make you fitter, healthier or correct behaviour, but I must admit I am very much looking forward to returning this July – I’m ready for the challenge!
5. Why is it important to sign up to receive the Doncaster Research School newsletter?
The Research School newsletter is a great way to find out what is happening in the world of educational research. It is informed by core content from the EEF and IEE as well as local information and updates. We see the newsletter as a way of signposting schools to the latest evidence and have received some very positive feedback from our readers. We are however always keen to receive suggestions on how it can be improved so please get in touch.
6. What is your favourite quote that relates to the Research School and its work?
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” – Charles Darwin, 1809Posted on 16 July 2018
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