Supporting school improvement through action research


This programme is intended to assist teachers to:

  • audit and reflect on one important element of their school’s priorities;
  • plan and implement a medium-term initiative;
  • audit and evaluate the success of this initiative, through the use of an action-research model. This enables both a significant personal and professional development activity and a major contribution to school improvement.

As teachers rarely have knowledge of research methodology, this programme supports them with a simple introduction to the action- research cycle (audit, intervene, re-audit and evaluate) enabling them to plan and reflect on the process of a specific initiative with some element of systematic and rigorous enquiry. In this way, teachers are enabled to extend their skills as reflective professionals, while helping to develop themselves, and colleagues, as members of learning communities. This also provides a model for how teachers may work in future on their own or with other colleagues.


This programme will be of value to all teachers, especially those with posts of responsibility. The programme works best with groups of teachers, across several schools, working on projects which have a common theme, with individual teachers choosing a specific area to address in their own school. Ideally, this programme will be run for a group of schools in a local area, such as that covered by a local authority or multi-academy. This offers an economy of scale for the introductory sessions on methodology, and provides significant opportunities for networking across schools.


The central core of the programme consists of:

  • an introduction to methodology, and planning an intervention, with a minimum of two sessions, ideally consisting of one and a half or two days. This is best conducted as a whole group;
  • a school visit to comment on and refine an action plan, drafted by the individual teacher;
  • a mid-way session to review progress, ideally as a group, for one day, or individually for a half-day; and
  • the end of project evaluation half-day.

This can be supplemented where required by support by email and phone.

Each teacher is encouraged to produce a report of around four to five sides of A4 in length, explaining the nature of the initiative, exploring the lessons learnt both in relation to the content and process, and examining the implications for school improvement.

Each school /provider is expected to allow each teacher a minimum of five days of release for work in his/her own school, in addition to the time for attending the central core of the programme.


The intended outcomes are:

  • for the teacher, an introduction to action-research techniques, an opportunity to plan, implement and evaluate a significant in-school initiative and external support in reflecting on the processes involved in school improvement;
  • for the school, an opportunity to develop its capacity as a learning community and for the use of such a model of school improvement, as well the benefit of the specific initiative
  • for the local partnership, a chance to extend learning networks across schools, by reflecting on the content and process of each in-school initiative