Research Leads

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A ‘Research Lead’ is a role dedicated to coordinating a school’s internal and external research and evaluation activities.

Engaging in research projects, and using high-quality research to inform planning and practice, helps schools improve. One method of supporting a school’s engagement with research is to have a designated Research Lead: someone who prioritises the use of research in planning, decision-making, professional learning, and teaching and learning. The Research Lead can also coordinate the school’s internal and external research and evaluation activities.

The term ‘Research Lead’ was coined by researchED, a grass-roots teacher-led organisation in the UK aimed at improving research literacy in education communities. While not as widespread in Australia, there are still schools that have a dedicated research-coordination role, albeit with different titles.

The resources below have been created to help schools develop a new Research Lead role, or strengthen an existing role that is focused on research engagement and coordination.

Having a dedicated ‘Research Lead’ in schools

The Having a dedicated ‘Research Lead’ in schools document includes:

  • key responsibilities and activities of a Research Lead
  • factors needed for a Research Lead to be successful
  • links to further reading and information
  • questions school leaders should consider in order to develop or strengthen the role of a Research Lead.
Research Leads pilot 2020–21

Over an 18-month period, 19 Melbourne Catholic schools participated in a pilot project to explore if and how having a dedicated Research Lead is helpful for strengthening research engagement and evidence use in their school. These pilot schools were supported through a modest grant to provide release time for the Research Lead, as well as professional learning sessions, resources and coaching sessions to help build Research Lead capability.

Despite a disrupted year due to Covid19 and extended periods of remote learning, all Research Leads and their schools made great progress towards strengthening research engagement and evidence use. Each school submitted a final report at the end of the pilot and these were analysed and consolidated into a high-level summary report (insert link). The findings and learnings from the pilot are critical for informing how MACS will continue to support Research Leads and schools in our shared commitment to evidence-informed practice and improvement.

Research Leads in Melbourne Catholic schools

Prior to the Research Leads pilot, and in part to inform that project, we discovered that some Melbourne Catholic schools already had a dedicated person with research responsibility. Two of these staff members generously agreed to be interviewed and filmed to share their experiences with other schools. Listen to Laurina van der El from St Michael’s School, Ashburton, and Dr Susan Long from Avila College, Mount Waverley, in the videos below.

What led to a research role being established in your school?

How do you, as a Research Lead, support teachers to use research?

How does using research help your school with decision-making?

How does using research help your school with professional learning?

How does using research help your school with choosing the ‘right’ initiatives?

How does using research help your school with continuous improvement?

How has engaging with research changed the way teachers see themselves?