Research and Development

Research-informed classroom practice underpins professional learning at SPWT and the way we approach any professional development as part of our Teaching School work. Below are some of the research and development projects we are currently engaged with.

Maths and Science Teacher Observation Project with Bristol University 2014-2016

We have been one of 120 schools taking part in a nationwide schools project approved and funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). This project is about supporting the effectiveness of our teachers through a programme of structured lesson observation and feedback for professional development.

The key elements of the observation are: that it is undertaken by peers within the school; that it is relatively high frequency; and that it is guided by a structured template, requiring the observer to answer a series of questions about the lesson as it unfolds. This is implemented through specialist software downloaded as an app onto iPads. The project focused on English and Maths GCSE, and lasted two years.

The research project is being led by a highly experienced international team of researchers, led from the University of Bristol. It is being carried out to the highest academic standards using a randomised control trial (RCT) design.

HPV Vaccine Study with UCL Department of Epidemiology and public health with Y9-11, 2015-2016

SPWT are involved with a study to work out why the uptake of the HPV Vaccine (or cervical cancer vaccine) is lower among girls from black and Asian ethnic minority groups. Findings of the study will be used to develop an intervention programme to increase the uptake of the HPV vaccination among girls from these groups and a further study to work towards finding out if the intervention works.

The finding’s will be posted on here very soon – watch this space!

Fetch Me a Pen’: Academic excellence in subject teaching across schools and subjects

In 2014, St Paul's Way Trust began another key partnership with Mulberry School for Girls who made a successful bid to the London Schools Excellence Fund to establish an academic literacy research-informed professional learning project with following aims:

  • To increase teacher knowledge, skills and confidence around literacy and writing in their subject in order to improve teaching methods
  • To create resources that will improve the delivery of lessons on writing in specific subjects across the curriculum
  • To increase student knowledge, skills and confidence around writing, in turn improving educational attainment and progress
  • To embed academic writing work in the participating schools, their departments and curriculums, and to disseminate work amongst other schools and organisations
  •  To rigorously evaluate the work we do in order to judge its impact and inform our future steps

 The project is on-going and has helped the school further its aim to provide high quality literacy provision for all students in all subject areas.

Student led projects / initiatives

Student Leaders of Learning (SLL)

At SPWT we believe student leadership is one of the central strands of student achievement. Learning is not something that is done to students; it is a collaborative process with adults and young people working in partnership. We believe that the more engaged students are in their school the more likely they are to succeed. So a ‘school improvement’ driver, which recognises that consultation with pupils, can lead to better school performance, whether in terms of behaviour, engagement or attainment.

The SOE SLL works with the School of Education.  There are twelve members across Y7-13.  The main focus for this group is student learning, student progress and helping to shape pedagogy (where appropriate).  This council have conversations about teaching and learning. It takes an active role in supporting others learning and in shaping the student experience. The representatives of the SOE student council aredirectly involved in the planning and implementation of school improvements and meet regularly to discuss key issues and priorities. Student focus groups actively develop school policies and is involved in the appointment of key members of staff.  They will be consulted at subject levels about all aspects of their learning.


Authentic Biology Project

St Paul’s Way biologists have been working with researchers from Queen Mary University and medical professionals from St Paul’s Way Medical Centre on a DNA research project based on diabetes – a condition which is highly prevalent in the Bangladeshi community.

This project is supported by a Wellcome Trust Society Award.  The scheme is giving us an opportunity to take part in authentic research projects in our own school under the guidance of Professor Graham A. Hitman, Professor of Molecular Medicine and Diabetes at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, part of Queen Mary University of London.

Diabetes is a metabolic condition in which the amount of glucose in your blood is higher than normal and this is due to the pancreas not functioning properly.  In Tower Hamlets diabetes cases are more common than the national average. There is also a faster rate of increase in diabetes in this area compared to any other area in the UK. The table below shows that by 2030 the prevalence is predicted to increase by a further 2%. Therefore, our aim is to find out the association between diabetes and the ‘FTO’ gene. If we find very strong association, we can report our findings and educate the community to modify their diet and adopt a healthier lifestyle

Achievements to Date

  • Research presentations at 4 Symposiums organised through the Wellcome trust, 4 Science Summer Schools at SPWT, the IRIS launch at the Science Museum and exhibited at the Big Bang Fair. Attending VIPs included Lord Robert Winston, Lord Martin Rees, Professor Jeremy Fararr and Dr Anne-Lise Goddings among many others.
  • Experimental techniques have been standardised and students are using these techniques confidently.
  • 30 patient and control samples analysed so far using sophisticated DNA analysis techniques.
  • 2016 ABP graduates followed a number of STEM pathways at Russell group universities, including medicine and biomedical sciences.
  • Student participant numbers have increased year on year with students from both year 12 and 13 taking part in the project.
  • Production and filming of the first Authentic Biology Diabetes awareness video has taken place, with first screening to take place in late 2016.
  • Networking within the community to raise the profile of the project and raise awareness of diabetes with local people


CPD and leadership

BME Leadership Course for New Teachers, middle leaders and internship opportunities.

The aim of this course if to connect, support, raise the profile, retain and accelerate the career progression of Black and global majority educators who are at different stages of their careers, but who are aspirant and actively seeking next step promotion.

Leadership of Self

There are a great many talented educators from trainee teacher to early senior leaders from Black and other Global Majority backgrounds in London Schools. The three leadership preparation programmes that are offered under Leadership of Self: Leadership of Space are targeted at the following groups

  • New London Leader – designed for BME teachers entering the profession who show sparks of leadership potential
  • Aspiring to Lead – middle leaders - preparation for BME teachers who have been teaching for at least three years and aspire to next stage promotion
  • Assistant and Deputy Heads Internship – bespoke top capacity-building programme for assistant heads and deputies: incorporating aspects of the National College’s BME intern programme and a distinctive quality leadership programme run by the Institute of Education. Placements in Teaching School Alliances and social enterprises.



  • To deepen levels of self of knowledge and understanding regarding what comprises successful and authentic system leadership
  • To inspire thinking about new leadership paradigms such as Leadership of space
  • To deepen levels of agency and resilience
  • To deepen levels of awareness around individual leadership strengths and areas for development
  • To raise levels of confidence around leadership abilities
  • To increase levels of core leadership skills
  • To extend understanding around culturally competent leadership for the London context
  • To explore a range of issues and challenges for aspiring leaders from Black and Global backgrounds
  • To facilitate a network of powerful peer support
  • To facilitate the implementation of a leadership development plan
  • To maximise rates for being shortlisted for interview and appointment over a one-year period with 100% promoted within 12 months of programme completion