A West Suffolk-based education trust is celebrating after becoming the first official ‘research school’ in the East of England.
The Samuel Ward Academy Trust, which has 15 schools in the Haverhill, Newmarket, Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds areas, has been awarded £200,000 of funding to become a focal point for educational research – and one of only 11 research schools in the country.
As well as supporting teaching and learning across the Trust, it will share good classroom practice across Suffolk schools, working in partnership with Teaching Schools and the county’s School-to-School Support Partnership.
Andy Samways, director of training at the Trust’s Suffolk Borders Teaching Alliance, said: “This designation will give us direct access to the very best thinking on teaching and learning.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for us to build on our strong partnership working, enabling us to inspire and support other schools in embedding research-based approaches.
“Drawing on findings from across the UK and educational organisations worldwide, we will be aiming to share key messages that have the effect of improving pupil achievement and outcomes.
“The research school status will allow us to further raise standards and opportunities among teachers and students.
“From a teaching perspective, it will help staff become even better informed and enable staff and pupils to work even smarter.”
Mr Samways said the Trust had already been actively refining teaching approaches in response to evidence – most recently in primary school science, literacy and maths.
Earlier this year, one of the Trust’s schools, Westfield Primary Academy, in Haverhill, held a successful Shanghai maths mastery conference to share expertise with teachers from more than 50 schools.
Howard Lay, the Trust’s chief executive, said: “This is excellent news for the East of England because it will enable the Samuel Ward Academy Trust, in partnership with others, to stimulate educational innovation in order to raise standards and outcomes.
“For too long, too many educational initiatives have failed to embed because they have not been grounded in research. This has led to educational fads that are unsupported by systematic investigation and analysis.
“This research grant will enable us to ground practice in theory that works for all young people.”
Allan Cadzow, service director for children and young people at Suffolk County Council, said: “The new research school will help us to identify the strategies and innovations which work well in schools in the area and will allow these to be shared with other schools across the county. This new approach will allow us to ultimately improve the quality and standard of education which can be delivered through schools in Suffolk.”