Schoolzone: recent projects

Recent projects

Schoolzone goes from strength to strength and we're busier than ever, as many of our clients come back to us to conduct further research.

Over the past 12 months, we have carried out:

Over 30 surveys, to subject specialists, senior leaders, primary and secondary school practitioners, SENCOs and users of specific awarding bodies.

Around a hundred focus groups (of which over 80 have been online) to subject leaders, users of specific schemes and resources, senior staff at schools deemed ‘outstanding’ as well as those in special measures. We’ve tested new apps, software tools, content, standalone resources as well as multicomponent schemes, speaking to teachers about everything from their finances to their responses to curriculum reform.

50 educational product trials, involving over 750 teachers in completing structured tasks both in the classroom and out of it, assessing the suitability of content, tools, design and pedagogical approach, which they’ve fed back via in-depth online feedback forms, depth interviews, research forums and face-to-face interviews.

We’ve gathered feedback on new government policies, explored attitudes to the new curricula, heard teachers' concerns about changes to GCSE and A-level qualifications, and asked about their work-related and personal spending habits. We’ve found out what motivated them to become teachers, what keeps them awake at night, and how they feel about today’s generation of students.

Overall, we probably know more about our teachers’ views, opinions, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours than they do themselves! And certainly we know more about them any other research organisation.

Some quick case studies from summer 2014:

Charity resources audit and evaluation

Our client has an extensive range of teaching and learning resources for schools which it has developed over the years, but they wanted to know whether these are still fit for purpose in light of all the curriculum changes which have taken place recently. We ran a compatibility audit on the full range of resources and then asked a group of subject experts to evaluate those which were still relevant. Online focus group discussions helped the client to understand what was required to develop both new and existing resources and a survey of primary and secondary teachers ensured that the client understood the scale of the demand and how best to market their resources. See overview of this project as a Gantt.

Schoolzone understands the school market better than anyone: we are ex-teachers and educational publishers, so were perfectly placed to deliver this project successfully.

 

Major cultural venue: live school broadcasts

The popularity of live broadcasts of plays, ballet and opera has spread to schools too, but this client wanted to know if this would be a viable alternative to its hugely over-subscribed school matinee performances and whether schools would be better served by streaming the video online or by screening performances to local cinemas. They have lots of school contacts themselves, but the timing of the research meant that a response was needed during the school holidays - also they wanted to a mix of teachers who had, or had not, used the venue. We ran four online focus groups during July and August, involving teachers from around the UK - an impossible task to achieve by any other means. A subsequent survey meant that we could assess the scale of the demand and the best way to overcome barriers and to successfully market the service.

Schoolzone has the largest dedicated teacher community in the UK and vast experience in consulting with them via real-time online focus groups and surveys.

 

A new assessment service to address changes to school accountability

The DfE changed the way students are to be assessed and the measures by which schools' performance is judged, while at the same time stripping away the hierarchical structure of the curriculum. This left schools with largely redundant assessment strategies, so our client had been considering some potential alternative offerings. Fortunately, Schoolzone had already undertaken a considerable amount of its own in-house research into this area, anticipating the potential impact on schools, so we were the perfect partners to test the client's concept. We ran surveys with primary and secondary teachers to find out the extent of the market for a new assessment product and where development was needed. We then ran online focus groups, webinars to help teachers develop their understanding of the implications of the DfE's decisions, workshops to develop ideas, school visits to see current practices in action and set up an ongoing consultation panel to inform the development of the concept through to production. Read our in-house reports on the reforms.

Schoolzone's understanding of the implications of the curriculum reforms is unparalleled, making us the best possible partners to conduct research into products and services intended to support schools in rising to the challenge of the reforms.

 

New GCSEs and A-levels: schools' demand for resources

The changes to examination structures and to the content of the specifications is the biggest change since GCSEs were introduced - perhaps even bigger than that. Schoolzone has been consulting with teachers via surveys and focus groups since the first details of the reforms were announced. So when a major awarding body wanted to find out how schools were going to respond to the changes - and what kinds of resources they might need - they asked Schoolzone to find out. They had a very wide range of questions, which we helped them prioritise and then to decide about the best approach to answering them. At the very end of the summer term (a challenging time to consult with teachers) we conducted 80 structured telephone interviews with teachers from a very specific range of subjects at GCSE and A-level, exactly matching the client's well-thought through profile and delivered a full report with well-informed conclusions. A subsequent survey explored the issues raised in the interviews and helped establish the size of the demand.

Schoolzone combined its extensive reach in schools with our unique understanding of schools' needs and expectations to deliver extremely robust data combined with deep insight to make meaningful recommendations.

 

These are just snapshots of some of the very many research projects undertaken recently. If you think we sound as if we might make the perfect partner for your organisation too, please call Melissa or Philip on 01242 262906 to discuss your needs.

 




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