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Research into teachers and leadership for the Royal Society's project 'Vision for science and mathematics education 5-19'
£80,800, Royal Society Recent studies have raised serious concerns about the ability of the education system in the UK to meet the challenge of increasing the numbers of school-leavers with the science and mathematics qualifications required by industry, business and the research community to assure future economic competitiveness and our ability to answer new questions. The Royal Society’s Vision project aims to determine what needs to be done to make science and mathematics education in the UK as inspiring and effective as possible. In order to contribute to this goal, this research examined the contribution to outcomes of teacher training and professional development, school/college leadership and ethos. It was designed to answer five key questions: 1. What factors are associated with better and poorer school or college performance in science and mathematics education? 2. What contribution to outcome is made by the initial teacher education (ITE) and continuing professional development (CPD) received by teaching staff? 3. What role does school or college leadership play in the development of innovative and best practice? 4. What are the characteristics of effective leaders in science and mathematics education? 5. How far do any of these vary according to nation, phase and student characteristics? Research Methods The research consisted of two principal stages. The mapping stage focused on synthesising the main conclusions of other researchers regarding these questions by comprehensively reviewing existing literature and research data. The inquiry stage was designed to dig down into conclusions identified during the mapping stage in order to better understand the factors that drive variation in performance. A layered approach was adopted, in which a mixture of site visits and telephone interviews was used to build up a systematic set of illustrative case studies involving schools and colleges across the four home nations. Both concentrated in particular on the activity of subject leaders, since the mapping stage indicated that they had a crucial influence on outcome. We were especially concerned to identify factors which were associated with performance that was out of step with the trend for demographically similar schools or colleges. The case studies were supplemented by a large-scale online survey of teachers, designed to collect data on their perceptions of the training and leadership factors that affect school or college performance in mathematics and science. Key findings There was striking unanimity across the literature review, the case studies and the online survey that schools and colleges which are successful in science and mathematics provision are collaborative and inclusive.
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