Six Core Areas

The ultimate aim of the work undertaken by teaching schools is to have a positive and sustainable impact on the lives and opportunities of all children and young people by raising standards of teaching and improving learning outcomes.

St. Mary's Teaching School is one of only eight teaching schools within Leeds. Besides the work we do as an individual teaching school, St. Mary's works within an alliance - a group of schools and strategic partners that are supported by the leadership of a teaching school.  Working together means a stronger team of professionals and a wider range of knowledge, skills and experience which can be deployed across the 'Big Six' strands of work undertaken by each teaching school.

Research and Development

To meet this responsibility, we:

  • build on existing research and contribute to alliance and wider priorities
  • base new initiatives within our alliance on existing evidence and ensure we can measure them
  • work with other teaching schools 
  • allow our staff the time and support they need to take part in research and development activities
  • share learning from research and development work with the wider school system

Research and development is one of the 'Big Six' strands of the work of teaching schools.

The national research and development network makes research more accessible to schools. It supports teaching school alliances to engage in research and development activities with their higher education institution partners and in regional and national networks.

It undertakes research with schools on priority topics and themes agreed by teaching schools. This will provide:

  • a practical understanding of how to address the important issues facing teaching schools
  • an evidence base which can contribute to school improvement and practice


This project is testing school and classroom approaches to improving pupil attainment. Teaching schools and schools are carrying out the research. They are developing teachers’ skills in rigorous quantitative research methods.

They are testing seven interventions:

  1. 1stClass @Number
  2. Achievement for all
  3. Growth mindsets
  4. Inference training
  5. Numicon
  6. Research lesson study
  7. Response to intervention

Reports were published in January 2016, providing schools with evidence of what works in closing the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils.

Closing the gap: test and learn – Download the full reports [GOV.UK]


In this project 20 teaching schools are developing their expertise in evidence-based teaching. They are exploring different approaches to embedding it within their schools and across their alliances.

Participant schools will:

  • produce materials to support other schools
  • identify promising approaches that may warrant further robust and rigorous testing and evaluation


The network agreed three national themes for their research activities in autumn 2011. Teaching school alliances have agreed and pursued their own particular focus within a theme. They work with a national research team alongside their own university partner. They are also aligning with and contributing to the work of other alliances under the same theme.

Theme 1: What makes great pedagogy?

Theme 2: What makes great professional development which leads to consistently great pedagogy?

Theme 3: How can leaders lead successful teaching school alliances which enable the development of consistently great pedagogy?

You can read all the published reports here.

St. Mary's Teaching School commissioned a research project in collaboration with Leeds Beckett University entitled “Just because I’m not a published author does not mean that I’m not a writer”: The basis of the report, written by Tom Dobson, is Primary Trainee Teachers’ Identities as Creative Writers. Please read the report by clicking here.


The research in this project looked at the benefits of joint practice development (often abbreviated to JPD). It can be a more effective and cheaper way of schools supporting the mutual learning of teachers, students and others.

Powerful professional learning: a school leader’s guide to joint practice development summarises:

  • what joint practice development is
  • what joint practice development can do
  • the role of school leaders in enhancing its value in improving school outcomes


This project looked at what interventions are successful in closing attainment gaps in schools supported by a national leader of education (NLE) or teaching school. Organised into regional clusters, they examined how to support other schools to close gaps in attainment and the progress of pupils eligible for free school meals.

The partnership with the NLE or teaching school had, in some cases, resulted in significant improvements. For example:

  • a stronger understanding of rates of pupil progress
  • how to better support targeted pupils
  • a raising of the profile of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds


This project explored alternative assessment systems to meet the needs of the new curriculum. 34 teaching schools undertook school-based enquiry within their alliance schools.

The report looks at different assessment tools to support and capture progress such as visible learning approaches and mastery statements.


This project investigated how the best schools ensure they continue to close the gap as they implement the new primary national curriculum.

Closing the gap with the new primary national curriculum identifies the elements of good practice which are influential in closing the gap in children’s attainment. Primary schools will be able to use the findings, tools and recommendations to tackle their own attainment gaps.

Further Information

Further information regarding teaching schools can be found at: 

Please feel free to contact us.