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Research report

The school Research Lead

Tom Bennett

This is the second of three publications that collectively provide a commentary on research awareness and research use within schools in England

The researchED movement has generated a new debate about the role of research in schools. Of course there have always been teachers interested in undertaking research and applying the research findings of others. However, involvement in research has tended to be the personal enthusiasm of the individual teacher rather than a coordinated whole school endeavour. One of the many exciting aspects of the current debate that researchED has stimulated is the emergence of the idea of the Research Lead. Many schools now have a key individual who takes a whole school view of the use of evidence.

So how should new Research Leads see their role? This report addresses the question in two ways. Tom Bennett, the founder of researchED, has written a thought-provoking essay that sets out some of the ways in which the work of the Research Lead can be conceptualised. Tom explores a range of different approaches to research leadership. In addition to Tom’s tour of the horizon, several pioneering Research Leads have provided fascinating case studies of research leadership in action in their own schools. Both Tom’s analysis and the vignettes from the schools collectively make a powerful case for the new role and the potential benefits in terms of better teaching and learning. The different contributions also make it clear that there is no single blueprint that schools should follow as they explore research engagement.