Your study level

We've preselected "All levels" for you, but you can change your study level at any time by choosing one of the options on this menu. Changing your study level will return you to the beginning of the module.

What excellent teachers do (1)

Research ... is not distant from practice, but its lifeblood. It feeds the cycle of reflection / evidence / evaluation / teaching and learning. It's what excellent teachers do.

CLDD Project, 2011

School-based inquiry is not always reported in the wider educational arena, but discussion within schools through departmental or whole school staff meetings is highly beneficial. Blending research into professional development can make a significant difference for teachers and school development, as well as improving outcomes for pupils with SLD/PMLD/CLDD.

What excellent teachers do (2)

Listen to Jane Headland, headteacher of Brookfields School in Berkshire, talk about how research has become embedded in her school's practice.

Watch the first five minutes of this Teachers Media video on their website. Although set in a mainstream primary school, it shows the action research process.

  • Poster
A force for improvement
teacher at table talking to small

Professional development for teachers is high on the government agenda, and evidence-based practice is a compelling force within school improvement.

Research within classrooms or schools can be shaped to meet the setting's own needs and include curriculum development, pupil engagement, the learning needs of pupils, and many other issues.

By choosing to research some facet of our professional world (for example, identifying the needs of a child with a rare disorder) we can generate knowledge and understanding which translates into more effective practice.

Increased knowledge

In some schools, research is embedded in classroom teams. A deputy head teacher comments:

We have introduced a research target for teaching assistants as part of their professional development each year. It's up to the class staff to decide in conjunction with the teaching assistant what they're going to research, but, for example, some have been researching more about the child's disability or ways of motivating them. There is an increasing number of teachers doing their Masters in education now. ...

...School supports them through that. It increases our knowledge, which we can then share as well; not only within school, but with ... [visiting students and] our local education centre.

Based upon your school's development plan, or another matter high on your agenda, consider the issues that you feel would be of interest for research within your class or school. Discuss them with your line manager or senior leadership team.
Keeping up to date
teacher helping group with cooking

There are many professional journals and magazines that focus on issues and research in special education. However, subscriptions are usually expensive and therefore access is limited. Some local universities may allow read-only access to their libraries for educators; and local libraries can order articles for a fee through the inter-library loan system.

Professional reading is essential to remaining at the cutting edge. Consider how you may involve others and share research reading and discussion in a focused way.

The document Keeping yourselves to account provides guidance to special schools on addressing the Ofsted Evaluation Schedule introduced in January 2012.

Read the document, noting the sections that are related to this module (labelled '4.4'). Select one of the areas and draw up a plan showing how you would address this in the context of developing the inquiry-based practice in your school.

Find out more (1)

Whitehead, M. and Hartley, D. (eds) (2005) Major Themes in Education: Teacher education. London: Routledge/Taylor Francis.

In addition, you might also be interested in reading one or more of the following books to support Level D:

Bell, J. (2010) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-Time Researchers in Education, Health and Social Science. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Blaxter, L., Hughes, C. and Tight, M. (2006) How to Research (3rd edition). Buckingham: Open University Press.

Carpenter, B. and Egerton, J. (eds) (2007) New Horizons in Special Education: Evidence-based practice in action. Clent: Sunfield Publications.

Find out more (2)

Cryer, P. (2006) The Research Student's Guide to Success (3rd edn). Buckingham: Open University Press.

Denscombe, M. (2002) Ground Rules for Good Research. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Denscombe, M. (2010) The Good Research Guide for Small Scale Social Research Projects (4th edn). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Jones, P., Whitehurst, T. and Egerton, J. (eds) (2012) Creating Meaningful Inquiry in Inclusive Classrooms: Practitioners' stories of research. London: Routledge.

Find out more (3)

Porter, J. and Lacey, P. (2005) Researching Learning Difficulties: A guide for practitioners. London: Paul Chapman.

Roberts-Holmes, G. (2011) Doing Your Early Years Action Research Project: A step by step guide (2nd edn). London: Sage.

Robson, C. (2011) Real World Research (3rd edition). Oxford: Blackwell.

Rose, R. and Grosvenor, I. (2001) Doing Research in Special Education: Ideas into Practice. London: David Fulton.