Launched in February 2018, NACE’s Research and Development (R&D) Hubs offer regional opportunities for NACE members to exchange effective practice, develop in-school research skills and collaborate on enquiry-based projects. Each Hub is led by a Challenge Award-accredited school, bringing together members from all phases, sectors and contexts to share and augment the available evidence on what works for more able learners. To date, five Hubs have been established.
 
Read on for an update on recent Hub meetings and initiatives… 

Barry Island Primary School, Vale of Glamorgan

On 13 March, Barry Island Primary School launched a new STEM-focused research initiative, aiming to develop NACE members’ professional practice in STEM in line with the new curriculum for Wales. The project will support the development of curriculum ideas, with a focus on developing critical thinkers and ethically informed citizens through real-life learning experiences.
 
Bringing together 20 colleagues from a range of phases, this full-day session provided opportunities to share examples of innovative STEM practice, observe a lesson on coding and robotics, learn about the professional enquiry approach, and develop questions for investigation.
 
Participants will now commence their professional enquiries, testing new STEM approaches in the classroom and exploring the potential to implement new models across school. They will reconvene in May to share and analyse initial results, and again in June to present key findings, assess the impact on teaching and learning, and agree next steps.

Holme Grange School, Berkshire

On 26 March, Holme Grange School hosted its second R&D Hub meeting, attended by colleagues from 12 schools, spanning a range of subject areas, phases and school communities. The session opened with a presentation from Claire Willott, Holme Grange’s Research Lead, exploring the benefits, challenges and processes involved in developing a research-engaged school community, and highlighting the importance of multidisciplinary teams.
 
Participants then discussed potential areas on which to focus their enquiries, with initial ideas including investigations into the impact of different approaches to feedback; techniques to improve learning retention; cross-curricular approaches to improving grammar and punctuation; and the wider impact of vocabulary expansion.
 
The newly formed research teams left the meeting with a refined focus and strong motivation, setting out to explore current research and to develop research questions which are clear, concise, focused and appropriate. The group will touch base again in the summer term, before embarking on their professional enquiries.

Alfreton Nursey School, Derbyshire

Led by Alfreton Nursery School, our newest NACE R&D Hub held its inaugural meeting on 28 March, with a strong attendance from members in the region. At this first session, participants agreed a focus on “creating a culture of high aspirations, revolving around challenge, perspective and curiosity, for more able learners.”
 
At this first meeting, the group considered the wide range of activities involved in creating and embedding such a culture – including approaches to daily classroom provision, school displays, assemblies, communications with parents and the public – as well as recognition that relevant approaches will vary for each school.
 
The group will meet again in June to share next steps, including how enquiries will be evidenced, recorded and shared – including use of learner voice alongside staff and parent views. Over the coming 12 months, the group will work together to produce and share a set of case studies showcasing effective practice – aiming to provide practical examples and inspiration for schools across the NACE community and beyond.
 
About the NACE R&D Hubs
 
Led by Challenge Award-accredited schools, NACE R&D Hubs bring NACE members together to share and explore effective practice for more able learners and to collaborate on school-based research in this field. Currently, R&D Hubs are led by Haybridge High School and Sixth Form in Worcestershire; Barry Island Primary School in the Vale of Glamorgan; Portswood Primary School in Hampshire; Alfreton Nursery School in Derbyshire; and Holme Grange School in Berkshire. To find out more or to join your nearest Hub, contact us.
 
Read more: 5 reasons to join a NACE R&D Hub