Two schools in Cumbria – Cockermouth School and West Lakes Academy – have won funding to boost the quality of teaching in the region through direct support for local schools. They will work together to form the Cumbria Associate Research School, part of the Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) network of 32 Research Schools and eight Associate Research Schools across England.

The new Associate Research School in Cumbria forms part of a major expansion of the EEF’s regional work, with a significant increase in applying evidence to improve their pupils’ outcomes and close the disadvantage gap.

They will receive one year’s worth of funding from the EEF and additional money from the WELL Project, to target work in West Cumbria. The focus of the support will be on disadvantaged pupils, and more broadly vulnerable learners to help meet a key local priority.

They will also explore offering other programmes based on the EEF’s guidance reports on core school topics like literacy, maths and behaviour. These will be delivered in partnership with other Research Schools in the EEF’s Research School Network. This work builds on a conference that was held in Cumbria in 2019 at which the interest and enthusiasm for evidence-based practice in the area was demonstrated.

Cumbria Associate Research School will be holding a formal launch later in the month. They have opened applications for Evidence Leads in Education (ELE) to deliver training programmes based on the EEF’s guidance reports over the next three school terms.

Professor Becky Francis, CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

“We’re at an important moment in the potential of evidence to improve teaching and learning in England’s schools, particularly for our most disadvantaged young people. Not only is this country now a world-leader in producing high-quality evidence, but there is also a large and growing appetite among teachers and senior leaders to use this research to underpin their school’s improvement.

“The new Associate Research School in Cumbria will engage with schools, local authorities, multi-academy trusts, and other practitioners to improve teaching and learning in their region and provide great educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged learners. They’ll develop practical tools, training courses, professional development and coaching, all based on the best available evidence. I’m delighted to welcome them into our network, and look forward to working with them.”

Dr Rob Petrie, Headteacher of Cockermouth School, said:

“We are delighted to have gained the status of Associate Research School. It is a clear recognition of our school’s commitment to using evidence-informed ideas to support the education of the young people in our area.  We look forward to working with the Education Endowment Foundation, the Research School Network and our close colleagues at West Lakes Academy to make Cumbria into a hub of educational research.”

 Jonathan Johnson, CEO of West Lakes Trust, said:

“The accolade of Associate Research School is a reflection of our long-standing collective commitment over many years to finding and using what works in classrooms to deliver outstanding outcomes for children in west Cumbria. We are proud to work in equal partnership with Cockermouth School alongside the Education Endowment Foundation, and the wider Research School Network to further enhance our area’s reputation for cutting edge practice.”

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