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Bradfields Academy

Bradfields Academy

Research Activity

As active members of Fortis Trust (, Bradfields Academy has continued to engage in evidence informed practice and research with a range of partners. We aim to continue to be innovative and forward-thinking in our practice.

2013-16 National Forum for NeuroScience & Special Education 

From 2013-2016 we have been involved in the consideration of the scientific knowledge as held by Neuro-Scientists about how the brain works, particularly in the case of those with Special Educational Needs, and how this can assist practitioners in education to further develop and transform Teaching & Learning.  This piece of work was supported by NAHT (National Association of Head teachers). 

This work involved Mr Kim Johnson (Former Principal: Bradfields Academy) working with Professor Barry Carpenter OBE, Professor Francesca Happé, Rona Tutt OBE and a group of serving Special School Head teachers. 

This work created a number of case studies which were shared across the NAHT contributing to a fuller understanding of how to support learners with autism through effective teaching. It also led to further research into Autism, particularly for girls.  You may find the links below useful in helping you better understand the condition.

Please find links to external information are below:


Child Autism UK

About the Forum

Books Beyond Words

Understanding, Emotions and Books Beyond Words

The lead on this project was Mr David Waters (Vice Principal).

2015-18 Successful transition from Y6 Primary to Y7 Secondary provision, Prince's Teaching Institute 

During the period 2015-18 Bradfields Academy worked with the Prince’s Teaching Institute to develop research into successful transition from Y6 Primary to Y7 Secondary provision.

The major piece of work in this project required a ‘Student Passport’ to be developed and trialled to try and ensure the fullest exchange of information from the Y6 Primary Provision, the child and their parent/carer to their new Y7 Secondary Provision [Bradfields Specialist SEN Academy].

This exchange of information was then evaluated for content and impact in respect of:

  1. Student’s making a successful transition to Secondary
  2. Parents/Carers having a successful transfer engagement with their child’s new provision
  3. New provision staff being in possession of full detail on their new Y7 students and their academic/social history
  4. Excellent working partnership and liaison being furthered between Primary & Secondary transfer partners

The lead on this project was Mrs Fi Bradbrook (Former Assistant Principal) who developed a document which is completed by feeder primary schools and parents/carers of each child as they transfer from Year 6 to Year 7.  Initially in 2015-16 this project supported those students transferring into KS3 Birch.  Since July 2016 this project was extended to include those students transferring into KS3 Pine.

At the end of the academic year 2015-16 the research findings showed that the document had supported an increase in staff knowledge and understanding of the 'whole child' which in turn had resulted in greater success in settling into Bradfields.  The Prince's Teaching Institute commended Bradfields on this piece of work and shared it nationally. Below is a copy of the 2015-16 Document.

Year 7 Student Passport

2017-21 Development of teaching and leadership within English and Maths so that students' achievements and personal development is improved, Prince's Teaching Institute 

The lead on this project was Miss Marie Sweetlove (Principal).

During the period 2017-2021 Bradfields Academy worked with the Prince’s Teaching Institute to develop research to explore ‘How can teaching and leadership be developed within English and Maths so that students' achievements and personal development can be improved?’.

The major piece of work focused initially on English and Maths with the aims to:

  • To celebrate the strengths of the subject/departments and identify relative weakness.  Therefore improve the education provided for students to increase their progress and personal development.
  • To ensure subject leaders are more secure in making robust judgement of the effectiveness of teaching and learning, leadership and management within their departments.
  • To improve the quality and accuracy of department 'self-evaluation forms'.

This project began with the Senior Leadership Team working closely with the Academy Improvement Partner to develop a robust Subject and Department Review process. Which had a detailed protocol and implementation plan. Each review was planned to be carried out over a period of two weeks with activities carried out pre- and post review to culminate in a final report of standards within the department. Allocated members of the Leadership Team worked with Subject Leaders to provide support and challenge.

At the end of Year 1 the achievements were:

  • The protocol for the Department Review process had been developed, tested and further refined.
  • Tested initially with the English and Maths departments and has been extended after further refinement to ICT, Humanities, Art & Design, DT  and PSHCE/Life skills.
  • It was also extended to review 3 out of 5 of our Pastoral Teams.
  • Secure frameworks were put in place, with all members of SLT allocated specific roles. The process was further enhanced to also review the use of resources, budgets and spaces with the inclusion of the Academy Business Manager as part of the review process. 
  • Clear Frameworks developed and in place to support with the analysis of data as part of a pre-review commentary. The outcomes of this created the key focus of the review. Once evidence was collected and reviewed through learning walks, observations, staff questionnaires, analysis of student work, etc. A final report was produced by the subject Leader reviewed by the SLT lead. This forms the Departments SED and has clear actions for improvement.

Quotes from Subject Leaders:

'This was daunting at first as I assumed we would be under scrutiny, but it soon became apparent that this was a process to be done with the subject leader and the department and not to them'.

'I have a much better understanding of all my department and although my SEF was accurate it was great to prove it even further'.

'This has been a wholly positive experience and a much more useful way of proving the quality of the department than lesson plan monitoring or providing work for Progress over Time. I have all the evidence I need following this review'.

'It was so thorough yet so enjoyable. The chance to do joint lesson observations with SLT was really useful'.

'The fact that the member of SLT that leads the review then stays in contact and responsible for the department is a great idea as it provides consistency. It also helps me to set my PfM targets'.

Impact on the academy at the end of Year 1:

  • Teaching & Learning walks showed an increase in the percentage of outstanding lessons.
  • Student progress over time continued to improve, and the outcomes of the more targeted approach to address leaner gaps showed an overall positive impact on progression.
  • Interventions were more effectively to address learner needs at all levels.
  • Impact on staff overall within English and Maths were that department teams were stronger with a more team centred approach to improving teaching and learning; communication within departments and between departments and SLT has improved; Subject leaders were better placed to know where their departments were at and how to improve, it also developed the Assistant Principal's curriculum knowledge and ability to use data to affect academy improvement.

Both departments developed comprehensive live SEF documents that were based on robust validated evidence. Subject Leaders fed back how confident they had become in making judgements and in targeting further development.

The report process was further refined over the year in response to subject leader feedback, as the initial reports were still overly comprehensive. Reports developed to be more concise with clearer more focused targets. Interventions were targeted to address progress gaps. The outcomes aligned to areas already identified within the Whole Academy Development plan.

This project has enabled subject leaders to have a more informed understanding of their departments, their teams, their own leadership strengths and areas for development as well as student progress and attainment.

At the end of Year 2 the achievements were:

Post the initial year 1 implementation of the Review Protocol for all subjects/pastoral areas, a further refinement of the process and systems was undertaken in response to comprehensive evaluation of the process. We developed a Year 2 Re-review process to assess progress made towards actions identified in initial review reports.

Review reports were completed for all subject areas / pastoral areas. With a full review and light touch process developed to balance the need for ongoing review with workload.

A full evaluation of the Review process was conducted by our independent Academy Improvement Partner who explored the impact of the programme. His report is as follows:

Evaluation of the Subject and pastoral reviews.

  1. The programme of subject and pastoral reviews is nearing completion and is on track to do so in line with the stringent timetable set only one year ago. Given the scope and ambition of the programme this will be a remarkable achievement. The senior leaders who have driven the programme and the middle leaders who have carried it out with diligence and enthusiasm should be congratulated; they have developed a programme of self-evaluation which is of undeniably high quality.
  2. The issues identified by the mid-programme evaluation, in October 2017, have been incorporated into subsequent reviews so that:
    • the ‘outcomes’ sections of the report, progress and attainment and personal development, focus more precisely on the knowledge, skills and understanding of students rather than the provision made for them;
    • subject reviews have a clear statement about the relative strengths and weaknesses of students’ knowledge and understanding of the particular strands of the subject;
    • the personal development sections contain an evaluation of all aspects of personal development;
    • the language used in reports is accessible to a wider readership;
    • the variations in the style and content of reports have been reduced.
  3. The successful implementation and imminent completion of the programme has brought considerable benefits for the Academy. The following are significant among the many benefits:
    • the ownership of the process by subject and pastoral leaders, their enthusiasm for it and their determination to get it right. As a result of which they have a increased knowledge of the effectiveness of their departments and of what is needed to secure even further improvement;
    • subject and pastoral leaders now have a greater and more accurate understanding of the bigger picture of whole-Academy effectiveness and the their contribution to it;
    • the growth and development of the link role of senior leaders. Their role in leading a series of reviews has given them a more in-depth understanding of the effectiveness of ‘their’ subjects and zones. This in turn has improved the accuracy of the senior team’s knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the Academy as a whole. It has also identified the need for development of a communication strategy so that assistant principals have an in-depth knowledge of the subjects belonging to other APs;
    • the support provided for subject leaders by the SLT link role;
    • synthesis of the outcomes of individual reviews has enabled the identification of whole-Academy issues for improvement such as the use and content of tutor time and the  greater ‘curriculum’ integration of primary and Programme 1 students;
    • the planning for, and the implementation of, the process has provided a rich training and development programme for both senior and middle leaders as a result of which leadership of the Academy has been enhanced significantly.
  4. In the light of the above and other benefits, the programme in its revised version (from October 2017) has experienced only the following drawbacks:
    • unrealistic expectations for the outcomes of an individual review such as the immediate acquisition of major resources or major timetable changes. Further development to enable middle leaders to see the bigger picture will help ameliorate this issue;
    • the pressure placed on multi-subject teachers. This will be addressed by the changes proposed for the next phase of the programme that is set out below.
  5. On completion of the full programme of reviews, in April 2018, APs have identified the need for:
    • the creation of a communication strategy that will ensure that each AP conveys both the outcomes of a review and updates on progress towards improvement priorities of their subjects and zones to all other members of the SLT;
    • the creation by middle leaders of subject and zone delivery plans to bring about the improvements identified by the review;
    • the continuance of regular line management meetings between APs and their subject and zone leaders.
  6. As reported above the introduction and completion of the review programme has been highly successful. It is clear however that simply repeating the programme in the next academic year would be counter-productive. It was agreed that the next phase of the programme of subject and zone review should be as suggested in October 2017 which is:
    • update the outcomes sections (academic and personal development) of all reports during the Autumn term 2018 using data drawn from the results achieved in examinations in 2018 and from the progress and personal development data runs carried out in July 2018. This update should ensure that departments have a clear and accurate analysis of the strengths and weaknesses in students’ attainment, progress and personal development. Middle leaders should be required to identify what aspects they need to know more about in order to understand why the outcomes are as they are;
    • carry out a programme of review, in Spring 2019, of teaching and curriculum, which examines and identifies the reasons for the relative weaknesses identified in (i) above and thereby provides the priorities for improvement in each department;
    • evaluate leadership in the light of (ii) above and update the teaching and leadership sections of the report so that the department has an up-to-date department evaluation statement by June 2019.

Peter Johnson, Academy Improvement Partner 25th February 2018

At the end of Year 3 the achievements and impacts were:

The review process was further refined to create a continuous cycle of improvement. Full reviews are to be undertaken bi-annually or wen there is a significant change to either progress data or staffing; light touch reviews were developed to focus on areas previously targeted to review progression. The format of the review write up was further refined to support leaders in having greater ownership. Some of the outcomes of the reviews in Year 3 were:

  • Improved impact of interventions.
  • Schemes of work were refined in light of staff/ subject feedback.
  • Improved and effective use of resources

The Prince's Teaching Institute commended Bradfields on this piece of work. The final submissions has been delayed due to Covid-19.

2021 Development of focused internal action research projects 

As part of the Academy’s ongoing improvement and development drive, we have introduced internal action research projects into our professional development sessions. We are working towards establishing a research culture that will:

  • Enable staff to be involved in actively shaping policy and procedure.
  • Support staff to work together in groupings not usually formed.
  • Engage emerging leaders to drive a project forward.
  • Enable staff to consider all areas of the academy.
  • Empower staff to discover and share good practice.
  • Further enhance pedagogy and practice in order to improve outcomes for students.
  • Encourage thinking outside of the box.
  • Empower staff to experiment and take controlled risks in their practices.
  • Support staff to engage in professional dialogue and develop intellectual rigour.
  • Support a climate where learning is central.

Based on review of current progress data, outcomes of department and pastoral reviews and lesson monitoring, the following areas of focus were identified for Year 1 of this project:

  • Careers in the Curriculum
  • Review of our approach to Behaviour & Attitudes to Learning (BATL)
  • Developing STEAM
  • Effective Starters and Plenaries
  • Impactful Differentiation
  • Effective Feedback and Assessment

All teaching staff have elected to form a research group exploring one of the focus areas. This is a yearlong project.