Research and Development


A researching school is an improving school”

CTSN recognises the importance of being at the forefront of educational research. Research and Development is therefore one of the main activities of CTSN.

Conscious of the benefits of teachers being reflective practitioners, schools within the network each have their own well-established Research Communities. These comprise groups of lively, enthusiastic and dedicated teachers at different stages of their careers involved in a wide range of Action Research projects. These 

groups engender cross-curricular conversations where good practice is shared and also provide a vehicle for teachers to be reflective about their own classroom practice. The impact of all of this is a heightened quality of experience for the students at the schools where innovation becomes common place.

Engagement with cutting-edge research

CTSN have been involved in two national projects: ‘Closing the Gap, Test and Learn’ with the National College of Teaching and Leadership and ‘What makes great professional development which leads to consistently great pedagogy?’ with the Institute of Education, University College London (our work featuring in the final report). Research Communities based in CTSN schools have connected with CamSTar (Cambridge, School Teachers and Research) to underpin classroom based research.  Last year, CTSN R&D schools worked collaboratively on research projects exploring ‘Life after Levels at KS3’ and ‘Developing Growth Mindset in pupils, teachers and parents’.  A conference sharing the outcomes of these projects, with keynote speaker Tom Sherrington, was attended by 100 teachers from across the network. 


For more information about CTSN R&D please follow its news blog. 



This year CTSN, in collaboration with the Institute of Education, will be Leading the following research project across CTSN Schools:

'How do we know it works?'

Project aims:

A great deal is known about the importance and potential impact of middle leaders in schools but the challenge remains of how to fulfil the role effectively in practice.

In a culture of continuous school improvement, middle leaders are charged with the responsibility to ‘make it happen’. As a result, they are often caught in an ‘implementation trap’ with little time to evaluate whether new initiatives are making a difference.

This programme aims to provide a supportive and reflective forum for 22 early middle leaders from 11 Network schools (primary and secondary) to explore how to:

  • robustly evaluate the impact of initiatives run in departments and within school
  • share knowledge about excellent middle leadership practice within and across schools
  • provide the space, conditions and support for staff to grow and develop their practice
  • bring about evidence-informed change in pupil learning
  • better understand the relationship between improved learning and outcomes
  • better understand and develop the leadership conditions in schools that develop and embed cultures of outstanding practice.

Programme Structure

The project runs from January 2017 to June 2018 is hosted across CTSN schools.

Sessions run 2.30-5.30pm

Launch – 16 January 2017

Building an early/middle leader network

What do we understand by ‘evidence-informed practice’?

Developing a ‘focus for change’- F4C

Session 2 – 14 March 2017

Sharing baseline evidence

Refining your F4C

What’s known about our issue? Exploring the research base

Developing research tools

Session 3 – 24 May 2017

What’s known about the change process?

Leading evidence-informed change

Evaluating interim impact

Session 4 – 25 September 2017

Sharing evidence of learning, impact and interim findings

Re-focusing for 2017-18

Session 5 – 21 November 2017

Bringing teams into research

How do we support staff to develop and change practice over time?

Re-visiting leading change

Session 6 – 14 March 2018

Tracking change –gathering evidence over time -where are we now?

Accessing new research.

Establishing impact strategy for the coming year.

Session 7 – 4 June 2018

Celebrating learning

Embedding new ML practices

Ensuring sustainability of the ML Network

If you are interested in learning more about research opportunities across CTSN, contact Jane Catley


Research and Development Enquiry Form

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