This section will help you to design your project by giving some examples of LED professional inquiry projects that may be of interest. These will at least give you some idea of what is possible. Your needs may fit into one of these project types or require development of a bespoke project aligned to our design principles. Please get in touch – for general enquiries contact LED at LED@cumbria.ac.uk. The director of LED has personal oversight of all projects. To discuss the design of a project for your alliance or school contact LED Director Professor Pete boyd on pete.boyd@cumbria.ac.uk

Types of Professional Inquiry Projects

  1. Research and Development (R&D) professional inquiry project: These R&D two year projects are our blue-chip offer in which teachers lead change in practice through practitioner research.
  2. Subject Leader Curriculum Development professional inquiry project: Subject lead teachers are supported to run a curriculum development project over two years back in each of their schools.
  3. Philosophy for Children (P4C) curriculum development inquiry project: Teachers develop expertise in P4C during one year and evaluate its impact, including SAPERE formal accreditation.
  4. Extended writing across the curriculum in transition from KS2 to KS3/4: Teachers from different curriculum subjects and age phases collaboratively develop practice in reading and writing genres.

1. Research and Development (R&D) professional inquiry project

These substantial Research and Development (R&D) projects are our leading edge form of professional inquiry because they involve teachers in a two-year practitioner research project focused on a negotiated issue or area of practice. Participating teachers take on the role of ‘teacher researchers’ and contribute to developing a research question through engagement with classroom practice and relevant literature, research design and ethical clearance, and data collection and analysis. The aim is to impact on pupil learning outcomes through research-informed change in classroom practice. These projects aim to develop socially and contextually robust knowledge and usually include as outputs a published research paper and a professional guidance resource for teachers. Recent projects have focused on:

  • ‘developing mastery approaches to maths’ - teacher strategies and beliefs
  • ‘learning conversations’ - how to talk to 4 year olds, sustained shared thinking in the early years
  • ‘developing mindset’ - the more you practice, the smarter you get
  • ‘framing independent learning’ – developing self-regulated learners

These R&D projects offer excellent value for money because you will be allocated a research mentor who will be putting pro bono additional time into the project. This is because the project outputs will include a published research paper which justifies use of their contracted scholarly time. The focus of an &D project will depend on the needs of the client organisation. This includes impact on outcomes for children, regular face to face workshops, an accessible literature review; an action research text for each teacher; administrator data management support, project website, published outputs and teachers experiencing a full practitioner research project. These projects aim to publish a research paper and develop a CPD resource for school to school dissemination.

If you are interested in an ambitious professional inquiry that will make a substantial contribution to teacher’s professional learning and to school improvement, then contact LED at LED@cumbria.ac.uk to discuss the development of an R&D project.

2. Subject Leader Curriculum Development professional inquiry project

A subject leader curriculum development inquiry project is a collaborative two-year professional inquiry project supported by an LED research mentor (it may also include an additional LED curriculum subject specialist consultant). A group of subject leaders are supported to lead professional inquiry curriculum development projects back in each of their schools.

These projects vary in outputs subject to the needs of each school but they include regular face to face workshops, classroom experimentation, collection and analysis of evidence of learning data, plus project website, peer to peer dissemination and the development of a CPD resource.  These subject leader projects are available in subjects across the curriculum with the specific focus negotiated with school leaders and the subject leads. An example of a Subject Leader project is the current Carlisle Schools Partnership project with 20 Primary maths lead teachers focusing on developing mastery approaches to maths.  For more details please contact LED at LED@cumbria.ac.uk

3. Philosophy for Children (P4C) curriculum development inquiry project

A Philosophy for Children (P4C) curriculum development inquiry project is a collaborative one-year professional inquiry project supported by an LED consultant accredited by SAPERE and including individual professional qualifications for successful participating practitioners. Initial face to face one-day workshop followed by three twilight workshop sessions. Accessible literature review, P4C manual, classroom experimentation, collection and analysis of evidence of learning data, plus project website, and peer to peer dissemination. 

For more details please contact LED at LED@cumbria.ac.uk

4. Extended writing across the curriculum in transition from KS2 to KS3/4

Extended writing across the curriculum in transition from KS2 to KS3/4 is a one-year professional inquiry project which focuses on whole school literacy work and transition. It requires a particular make-up of the teacher group in order to maximise professional learning by combining the expertise of secondary specialist teachers from a range of curriculum subjects, including secondary English, with Primary feeder school Literacy / English lead teachers. The project focuses on thinking, reading and especially extended writing challenges and genres across the full range of curriculum subject disciplines – across the arts, humanities, sciences and maths. A typical group of up to 20 teachers might include at least one secondary English specialist, at least three, and preferably more, English / Literacy lead teachers from feeder Primary schools, and then secondary teachers from a wide a range of other curriculum subjects including those teaching GCSE and A level.

The bottom line is that through enhancing whole school literacy work the project will develop teachers’ classroom strategies and strengthen transition to raise writing attainment at key stages 2 through to key stage 3 and help key stage 4 pupils raise their attainment in the extended requirements of GCSE exam papers. More ambitious than that, the project focuses on teaching strategies to help children, through their thinking, reading and writing to ‘become a scientist’, ‘become a historian’ and so on across the curriculum subjects. This professional inquiry project views thinking, reading and writing within the discourse of curriculum subject disciplines as central to the purposes of education. It is essential that all children gain core cultural knowledge and key skills to support their educational progress and choices and to underpin their future role in society as active citizens.

Transition is a continuing challenge for Primary and Secondary schools. This project tackles transition from a curriculum perspective rather than foregrounding the social process or technical assessment issues. Primary English / Literacy lead teachers in Key Stage 2 and subject specialist teachers in Key Stage 3 have much to learn from each other. This project brings them together and requires them to share concrete examples of thinking, reading and writing practice from their KS2, KS3 and KS4 lessons within a specific subject discipline.

The extended writing professional inquiry project might most often be commissioned by a secondary school but should always be in negotiation with feeder Primary schools. The one-year project includes six workshop units and is perhaps best started with a half-day double unit session followed by four twilights. The project will be facilitated by an LED associate consultant with subject specialist expertise. Alternatively, it is possible to run it as six twilight sessions. There needs to be time between twilights for classroom experimentation and teachers will need to bring copies of texts, of extended writing tasks, and eventually of children’s writing from their lessons, to the workshop sessions. The participating teachers, in discussion with school leaders, will be supported to involve other members of their teaching teams in the classroom experimentation and evaluation work. For more details please contact LED at LED@cumbria.ac.uk

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