Throughout our alliance; teachers, and other staff in schools, are carrying out valuable educational research. We have been involved in the following R&D projects:


Hillingdon Innovations and Improvement Network (INN)

Embracing Additional Needs Project 2017

This project is currently exploring how we can make sure that all children with SEN Support experience an education that is carefully matched to their needs and which allows them to fulfil their potential? It is looking in detail at SEN Support cohorts and considering how schools are meeting their needs following the Code of Practice changes.

This project, led by Meadow High School and Brunel University, is being carried out in ten schools, across Hillingdon, (including St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School) with support from the LA Inclusion Team.

Each school has identified an individual research opportunity within their organisation and are using video technology (Iris Connect) to share good practice and reflection across participant settings. This involves uploading videos of SEN practice onto the Iris Connect website with discussion of the strategies used. The group is due to meet later this year to feedback on the use of Iris Connect in enhancing practice and supporting pupils with additional needs. The hope is that the technology will be used to support SEN pupils across all local schools.


National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (NASENCo)

Action Research (2016 to 2017)

We worked alongside Satwinder Saraon (UCL Institute of Education) to advertise and host a locally based NASENCo programme facilitating action research across local schools. Practitioner research was carried out across the following two modules:

Module 1 – Developing SEN Co-ordination – Improving Learning and Teaching

Participants used theory and research to plan and review the effectiveness of a particular SEN intervention. The success of these interventions were shared across the group and SENCo network meetings further afield.

Module 2 – Developing SEN Co-ordination – Leading and Managing Change

This involved applying a theoretical understanding of change management to current practice. Projects included changing the deployment of TAs, improving communication between teachers and support staff and developing the involvement of parents in planning, implementing and reviewing support.


Brunel University: Mathematical Thinking Project (2015 to 2016)

During the academic year (2015 – 2016), we carried out a ‘Mathematical Thinking’ project led by Dr Ray Huntley from Brunel University. This active research took place at both St. Mary’s and St. Catherine’s Catholic Schools. The research at St. Mary’s focused on developing the most effective ways to extend the very able through problem solving, fluency and reasoning.


Mathematics is a way of describing and measuring the world, and we all begin to think mathematically from the day we are born. Unfortunately, as many of us progressed through school, the routines and methods used may have influenced our notions of what mathematical thinking entails, as we become ‘bogged down’ in the chase for right answers and good grades. The purpose of this research is to revive those earlier notions of thinking mathematically by engaging in a variety of activities and discussions which will shed light on the processes of mathematics, rather than the more easily measurable products.

The mathematical thinking project will begin by considering the very nature of such thinking and how it develops. It will then develop a number of sub-strands which will enhance an understanding of key mathematical ideas and develop an awareness of how mathematical thinking permeates children’s learning.

By considering some theoretical approaches to observing mathematics in action in classrooms, and through an engagement with a range of activities and tasks, we will develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which teachers can directly influence the growth of mathematical thinking in primary children. This will be done through taught sessions at Brunel University to introduce the theoretical aspects, school visits to observe teaching and learning of mathematics in action and self-study, working towards an assessed project.

An emphasis of the strand will be on using mathematics in problem solving situations. Problem solving is one of the three aims of the mathematics curriculum, along with fluency and reasoning. This will involve engaging in problem solving tasks and identifying the key strategies used in moving towards solutions. This will take the form of paired or small group activities in which mixed abilities will be seen as a help and not a hindrance to effective learning for all.

Critical analysis of research into children’s learning of mathematics will be a dominant feature of this enhancement which will include school-based work with groups of pupils to develop awareness of children’s learning.  Visits to local schools to observe mathematics teaching and learning will enhance the context of the module. The module will incorporate a blend of university sessions and several visits to St. Mary’s and St. Catherine’s where students will work in classrooms, observing and supporting learning.

After completing this strand, students will have developed a broad understanding in the following areas:

  • The nature of mathematical thinking
  • Connections and coherence in mathematical learning
  • Variation theory and the choice and use of mathematical examples
  • The Knowledge Quartet – a framework for mathematics teaching
  • Teacher development through the discipline of noticing


Week/ Date Overview of session Follow up GPE theme
Induction week Module overview Complete CE selection form Induction
Day 1 – 11.09.15 Introducing the topics of:

  • Mathematical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Reasoning
  • Use of resources
  • Mathematical examples
  • Theoretical frameworks
  • Complete reflection on blackboard learn
  • Readings relating to the topic that you will be focusing on next week (available on BBL)
Professionalism and Values
Day 2 – 18.09.15 Morning:Visit schools to have initial input on the focus area and safeguarding.Observe mathematics teaching in pairs in different classes in the two schools.
  • Preparation for the lesson you will deliver next week
  • Reflection on BBL about your visit
Safeguarding 1
Afternoon:Feedback to whole group within your school, identify common themes and differences across age groups.Preparation for following week
Day 3 – 25.09.15 Morning: School visit to teach planned sessionTalk to the mathematics coordinator about the mathematics policy
  • Reflection on BBL about how your teaching session went and what you would change if you were to do it again
National Curriculum
Afternoon: Feedback and evaluation as a group within each school.Presentation preparation
School A
Day 4 – 30.10.15 Self-study day (professional learning activities):

  • Mathematical thinking reading
  • Find out about how your school is assessing problem solving and reasoning.
  • Write up summary on BBL discussion board
School A
Day 5 – 27.11.15 Self-study day (professional learning activities)

  • Read the NCETM write ups about the Mastery approach and how it aims to keep all children working together.
  • Find out about how your school is incorporating problem solving and reasoning into its curriculum for mathematics
  • Write a summary on BBL discussion board
School A
Day 6 – 08.01.16 Self-study day (professional learning activities)

  • Talk to your mathematics coordinator about his/her role
  • Write a section of a draft job application which focuses on how the mathematics enhancement has prepared you for your NQT year
  • Submit on BBL discussion area
Applying for first job
Day 7 – 15.01.16 Morning: Visit schools to have initial input on the focus area and pupil progress and data analysis
  • Preparation for the lesson you will deliver next week
  • Reflection on BBL about your visit
Pupil progress and data analysis
Afternoon:Feedback to whole group in your school.Preparation for following week
Day 8 – 22.01.16 Morning:School visit to deliver planned sessionTalk to head teacher about behaviour policy and how pupil premium funding is used to support pupil progress
  • Reflection on BBL about how your teaching session went
Afternoon:Feedback and evaluationPresentation preparation
School B
Day 9 – 19.02.16 Half term – preparation for assessment (bring draft outline of research which will be peer reviewed) One-to-one tutorialsPreparatory/development work on presentation Pupil premium/ homophobia and bullying
School B
Day 10 – 22.03.16 Assessment day NA

Indicative readings (follow up readings will be provided on BBL)

  • Boaler, J. (2009) The Elephant in the Classroom, London, Souvenir Press.
  • Floyd, A. (1981) (Ed.) Developing Mathematical Thinking, London,


  • Ginsburg, H. (1983) (Ed.) The Development of Mathematical Thinking, London, Academic Press.
  • Lerman, S. and Davis, B. (2009) Mathematical Action and Structures of Noticing, Rotterdam, Sense.
  • Mason, J. (2002) Researching Your Own Practice: The Discipline of Noticing, London, Routledge-Falmer.
  • Mason, J., Burton, L. and Stacey, K. (2010) Thinking Mathematically

(2nd edition), Harlow, Prentice-Hall.


NCETM: Developing CPD for the new Maths Curriculum (2014)

Our Senior Leadership Team worked with the NCETM to research CPD that was needed to support the introduction of the new National Curriculum in 2014. This included a review of the published requirements and a survey of local Head Teachers to highlight the training need. As a result of this research we planned and offered training courses in the following areas (please see our ‘Past Courses’ section for more details):

  • Good to Outstanding Maths Lessons
  • Leading the New Primary Maths National Curriculum
  • Achieve Level 6 Maths
  • Problem Solving and Challenge for the More Able (separate sessions for Years 1 to 6)
  • Numicon Taster Sessions
  • Mastery and Depth in the New Maths National Curriculum