As part of the 40 strong Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Research School Network, Unity Research School has continued to provide support since the outset of the pandemic in England. In line with government restrictions, scheduled face-to-face training was translated to online activity via Zoom (NQT, Making Best Use of TAs, Maximising outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils) as well as communication activity maintained and developed through bespoke online events, our monthly newsletter, a dedicated section on our website and via Twitter; the latter two have seen notable increases in engagement through the challenging and unsettling weeks since lockdown.

We were driven to respond to the arising needs but to be measured and carefully balance communication so as not to ‘add to the noise’ of the early stages of educational and social disruption, instead taking time to support schools via signposting to trusted evidence-based guidance.

Part of our system support involved us in the development process of a brand new selection of EEF Covid-19 resources for parents and schools. This second set, developed in response to the EEF’s rapid evidence assessment of the existing research on approaches that schools could use, or were already using, to support the learning of pupils while schools are closed due to Covid-19; these evidence-based resources drew on recommendations of existing Guidance Reports and were designed to be used by schools to support the home learning of pupils during restricted school opening. One notable collaboration with two other Research Schools, like Unity, designated as DfE EdTech Demonstrator Schools, produced a series of linked video presentations unpacking the recommendations of the guidance report, Using digital technology to improve learning, launched at researchED Norwich in mid-June.

Continued partnership development activity has extended existing collaborations, such as within the Ipswich Opportunity Area and established new opportunities for network development and school improvement activity around evidence-informed communication events and training programmes in the coming months.

Forthcoming autumn term activity offering exciting opportunities for involvement by schools in the region include:

  • brand new Evidence Informed NQT/ECT series on ‘best bets’ from evidence
  • a menu of bespoke opportunities to link with Unity’s Marc Rowland in exploring provision and strategies to maximise outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable learners
  • extended training on the strategic deployment of TAs through our Making best use of TAs programme (as hubs or individual schools)
  • extended training on developing metacognition and self-regulation
  • brand new Evidence Lead in Education network
  • researchED Ipswich (remotely) on Saturday 7th November 2020

For further information see our website or contact Jo Francis (jfrancis@unitysp.co.uk) to register interest in any of the above.

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