Evidence for the Frontline – Research in the hands of practitioners

Serving professional's needs

The aim of the Evidence for the Frontline (E4F) scheme is to develop and test ways of enhancing educational practice by linking practitioners with researchers, high quality evidence, evidence-based programmes and colleagues in other schools.

The project is a collaboration between Sandringham School in St Albans and the Institute for Effective Education, University of York, working with 11 schools to develop the process and a further 20 to pilot it.

The process is based around a hub at Sandringham School which will receive enquiries from participating schools, by phone, email or social media, about issues for which they are seeking research evidence. Staff at the school’s E4F office will discuss the issue with the enquirer and help decide on a next step, which might be to:

  1. contact a research expert prepared to discuss the evidence base with the school
  2. investigate existing resources via a dedicated website and app
  3. make contact with a school which has faced a similar issue

Over time, a database of academic experts, resources and school contacts will be built up at the Institute for Effective Education together with feedback from people who had previously engaged in the process. This will be used to inform subsequent enquiries.

The plan has been developed over three years by a group of individuals in the Coalition for Evidence-Based Education, keen to see greater use of research evidence in practice. The ultimate intention is to provide a sustainable service open to schools, colleges and other frontline organisations. To reach this position the scheme will pass through two preliminary stages: developing the process with a small group of developer schools and piloting the process with a wider group. Funding is being sought currently and, if granted, the likely schedule will be:

  1. A Development Phase, from April 2015, with developer schools who will collaborate with Sandringham School and the Institute for Effective Education to shape the scheme as a whole.
  2. A Pilot Phase from October 2015 to July 2016 with a cohort of 20 new schools joining the developer schools. The pilot will be independently evaluated.

The approach has been developed in the light of recent evidence about effectiveness in using research to inform public services. Much of this suggests that simply providing access to research literature is no guarantee that it will be used effectively to improve practice. More interaction is needed between the parties to overcome the inherent difficulties of using evidence in practice.

The future plan is to build on the outcomes of the evaluation of the pilot. If it is broadly positive the intention is to develop a public service available to all educational providers.  This would need to be sustainable, so would probably entail a subscription. The evaluation may also suggest adaptations that need to be made or that a more detailed trial is required to determine its effectiveness in improving outcomes for learners.

Further information If you are interested in this project and its progress please contact Caroline Creaby at [email protected].

The project is being supported by the Education Endowment Foundation. More details are available here - http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects/evidence-for-the-fro...



Statement of support

The gap between researchers and practitioners is one of the main challenges facing educational research. This project should help to bridge this gap and help to make teaching a more evidence-based profession.Many teachers are themselves researchers, so helping to link them together into wider networks with academics and other professional researchers has the potential of building the scale and quality of evidence needed to inform policy change.

Professor Dan Davies, Head of Research, School of Education, Bath Spa University.

Great idea let's hope the pilot gets off the ground

I think this is an excellent idea and would be happy to be involved with a pilot in terms of helping to define the role of a 'knowledge broker' at a localised level and how it links to higher levels within the system.

Nick von Behr, behroutcomes.co.uk