|| N.B. TLRP generic project work ended in September 2009. The below information is for reference only.
In TLRP, we expect to maximise impact by collaborating closely with
potential users of our research. An aspiration to be 'interactive,
iterative, constructive, distributed and transformative' is set
out in the Communication and Impact Plan, produced in the early
years of the Programme.
Communication and Impact Plan
Communication and impact objectives:
Our objectives for effective communication and maximum Programme impact on policy and practice are to:
support the Programme's primary objective of enhancing outcomes
for learners at all ages and stages in education, training and life-long
engage with teachers, trainers and learners to ensure our research
reflects their needs and is transformed and communicated effectively
in discussion with them, so as to maximise its relevance, usefulness
form effective partnerships with organisations, groups and individuals
who can contribute to and benefit from the Programme's work;
promote the Programme's contribution to the development of policy
in the field of teaching and learning.
What is "impact" for the Programme?
We conceive impact not as a simple linear flow (of research followed by transformation,
dissemination of findings and adoption into practice and policy),
but as a much more collaborative process: interactive, iterative,
constructive, distributed and transformative. We are also engaged
in a much broader range of activities throughout the Programme
than just undertaking and disseminating research. For us, impact
therefore includes increasing awareness of new ideas and openness
to change as well as direct influence on practice and policy.
Working for impact is embedded in everything we do from formulating
research questions through to evaluating research influence on
individual practice, not just "what we do with the results". We
further recognise that impact comes not just from "successful"
research: lessons from unexpected outcomes of activities may be
just as valuable. Effective communication in support of influence
and impact is problematical for the Programme, as for others,
for a number of reasons:
the world of teaching and learning is very complex. Producing
high quality research is our wellspring for maximising impact, but
this is not necessarily the main factor in practitioner take-up.
We must compete for the attention of all our potential audiences;
generalising from the immediate research setting across varied
teaching settings is difficult for researchers, change agents and
policy makers alike. Practitioners and their managers also have
to consider whether the ideas and findings in question would work
in their particulars circumstances;
engaging and sustaining the commitment of the widest possible
range of partners over the long term is very demanding on resources,
energy and intellectual capital;
policy makers and managers tend to look for well-packaged solutions
for defined problems, while research realities are more messy. They
work in very different contexts and to different timescales from
the research community. They are also likely to be more receptive
to research if it supports a desired policy direction and offers
succinct, clear-cut advice;
transforming research so it has wider value and can be applied
by stakeholders to their own circumstances is notoriously difficult,
and we must not over-claim what can be achieved.
However, the Programme has substantial assets and allies in working for impact. These include: the quality of our research teams;
the Programme's independence, reputation and credibility with
key decision making bodies and individuals;
our ability to offer a wider range of other assets beyond the
research projects - research reviews, conceptual and methodological
developments, policy inputs, emerging findings, capacity building,
interaction with a wide range of social science views;
the networks of communication and influence in organisations
which share our aims and want to engage with the process of putting
research evidence at the forefront of the day to day operational
context of teachers, trainers and other practitioners;
the support throughout the different teaching and learning communities
for making best use of trustworthy evidence of good practice.
Strategy for Impact
The main components of our strategy are:
working with networks of practitioners, learners and others to
deliver, transform and communicate research evidence and other assets
(reviews, methodologies, perspectives, etc.) to the widest possible
number of their peers, and to convince practitioners to apply its
recommendations to their practice;
engaging with a wide range of user organisations and other stakeholders
to embed the aims, approaches and findings of the Programme in the
cultural context of both research and practitioner communities;
contributing to (and where appropriate organising and leading)
strategic debates about teaching and learning, to influence policy
working with key organisations in the field to raise the profile
of evidence-informed teaching and learning as a significant and
effective route to lasting improvements in attainment of learners;
communicating conceptual, methodological and practical approaches
at both Programme and project level to research, practitioner and
relevant policy communities;
supporting training and other capacity-building activity which
improves the ability of the teaching and learning community to undertake
relevant research and transform it appropriately for a range of
facilitating the learning and co-operation opportunities generated
by discussion between projects within the Programme, to develop
both conceptual and practical advances in transforming research
Effective communication, influence and impact involves not just the transmission
of messages but listening to the whole range of stakeholders.
Information and analysis must flow:
into the Programme: so that we hear the views of all our audiences
about how to engage their interest and support; and so that they
help to shape research priorities, the choice of projects, the conduct
of the research and how research findings are transformed and communicated.
from the Programme: so we engage with the right people in the
right formats at the right times; to ensure that we contribute to
policy development; and so research findings have the maximum impact
within the Programme: so projects, partners and individual researchers
share the development of theory, research methods etc., with a view
to enhancing the quality of our research.
Beneficiaries and intermediaries
Learners and Practitioners at all ages and stages of learning are the key beneficiaries
of the work of the Programme. For us, 'practitioner' includes
all those engaged with knowledge transmission and learner support:
pre-school and school teachers, tutors and lecturers in post-compulsory
education; teaching and training providers in work based learning,
adult education and self-directed learning. Many of these will
not necessarily have overt responsibilities for "teaching", but
may be acting as managers, mentors, supervisors or organisers.
Similarly, 'learner' comprehends individuals engaged in both formal and informal learning: pre-school and school pupils, students in post-school education, workers in vocational or professional training / CPD, and adult / lifelong learning, whether structured or self-directed. It also includes teachers and trainers as learners.
The wider range of other users and potential beneficiaries includes education suppliers; employers; professional and related organisations; relevant national and local government bodies; politicians, civil servants and other policy makers; pressure groups; and the general public.
Key intermediaries in communicating with interested groups include the media, professional and research bodies, teacher training organisations, LEAs, school advisors and similar organisations in post-school education. The managers of teachers (e.g. head teachers, human resource managers in industry and commerce) are especially important, both as beneficiaries of the research and as intermediaries.
The education and training research community are key partners under all these headings.
We will continue to develop communication with these groups and others who shape educational debates, including researchers and policy-makers in other countries.
Tactics: What works?
The evidence base for "what works" in achieving impact in teaching and learning
is still limited, although growing as a result of recent studies.
There is also an increasing body of evidence from other social
sciences, particularly child health and social care. The literature
on the diffusion of ideas and innovations provides further insights
and useful frameworks for comparison.
The Programme is also contributing to this evidence base through literature reviews, discussion within the Programme and with partner organisations, and by contributing to public debates.
All this work confirms that dissemination of research along basically top-down, linear paths, or merely making research available in the hope that it will lead to positive results, have been found to be inadequate. Rather there is now a consensus that influencing policy and practice is a much messier process, involving a number of forces which we and others need to operate on or at least influence:
promotion, by researchers and change agents such as the Programme
and educational organisations, of research evidence and research
demand from policy makers and practitioners who want reliable
evidence on which to base their actions -both "whether to" and "how
facilitation by a range of mediators and opinion formers;
control of access to resources and support for implementation
by "gatekeepers", both individual and organisational;
resistance and inertia by organisations and individuals which
inhibit evidence - informed policy and practice;
time constraints and initiative overload.
Our key tactical approaches are therefore to :
work proactively to develop with the research, policy and practice
communities better understanding of how and where research can have
impact. Several seminars have already been held to discuss the nature
of impact and what works in promoting it. Further discussion and
debate in these areas will be stimulated as the Programme evolves,
both within the Programme and with wider stakeholder communities.
use our limited resources most effectively. We are concentrating
proactive partnership work with the organisations most central to
the Programme's objectives. Meetings have been held with the most
important government and non-governmental organisations to progress
collaboration. We will continue to work to make the most effective
use of these and other key partnerships, since the organisations
/ networks concerned will in many cases be the most persuasive advocates
for Programme outputs and the most effective routes to maximising
communicate and engage with other organisations mainly through
paper and electronic newsletters, briefings, website postings etc.
Other more active engagement will be prioritised only where there
is a specific event or link to a project, or in response to an approach
from them. Maintaining the nationwide scope of the Programme through
engagement with the bodies which serve the nations and regions of
the UK also requires careful management.
expand individual project networks to cover ever-wider groups
of stakeholders as publicity for their work (through Programme and
other newsletters, websites, information from partner organisations
and media coverage of their progress) engages practitioner interest.
This brings substantial benefits and a widening ripple of communication
to interested parties, but is demanding in time, staff resources
and money and needs careful management and prioritisation.
recognise the pressure on practitioners, both teachers and post-compulsory
educators and trainers. They have full workloads and are already
under pressure from other agencies to deliver change; "initiative
overload" is a common concern. Many individuals are, of course,
interested in engaging with research and where they can be identified
(e.g. through memberships of partner bodies' networks, responding
to Programme information / questionnaires etc.) concerted effort
will be made to involve them.
in recognition of the Programme's UK-wide remit, endeavour to
include Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and regional English voices
in developing dialogue, and to work with the devolved administrations,
so that our activities are sensitive to their different needs and
areas of interest.
Methods of communication need to be carefully designed in consultation with policy
makers, education bodies, teachers and learners so they are right
for the target audiences, are well timed, and foster active engagement
with them. The most important include:
paper and electronic bulletins, newsletters and other outputs
at both Programme and project level. Where appropriate these will
be purpose-designed for specific stakeholder groups and invite engagement
/ feedback from them;
website development, which will be increasingly interactive as
the Programme and projects progress;
practical products in the form of educational materials (for
example, school texts, videos, training materials), academic and
conferences and seminars with inputs from a wide range of contributors
- policy makers, teachers and trainers, the research community,
informal discussions with key partner organisations and networks
coverage of emerging research findings and other developments
in news media and professional journals;
Programme books on core themes, in conjunction with a specialist
educational publisher. Individual projects will also produce their
own books for specialist, practitioner and policy audiences.
The Longer Term Prospect: Research Reporting and Impact
The longer term strategy for communication and impact once research findings
begin to become available should follow the principles already
discussed, but will move towards a greater focus on transformation,
diffusion and embedding in practice.
(a)The second half of the Programme
The following additional elements will be added to the current strategy:
Project Communication Plans - to be developed including detailed
planning for transformation and dissemination of findings. Resources
are available to individual Phase I / II projects for additional
targeted engagement, communication and impact activity, especially
practitioner-oriented materials such as videos;
Programme support for projects - extra conferences, seminars,
publications, web resources, staff support;
partnerships to deliver impact - additional joint seminars, publications,
teaching materials, etc. are expected as we have more results to
electronic dissemination through the British Education Index,
Regard, website developments, e-impact, etc. We can confidently
expect new and more powerful support technologies to be available,
but it would be pointless to try to predict these too far ahead.
The Programme envisages a series of books for policy / practitioner audiences (on undertaking partnership research in teaching and learning; knowledge transformation; and using and communicating educational research to improve learning outcomes). This plan will be reviewed depending on how existing activities evolve and on the outcome of Phase III commissioning.
Publication in practitioner journals / magazines are likely to be a fruitful route to widespread impact. A number of high-circulation media including the DfES "Teacher" magazine, "People Management" (CIPD) and Union journals have already expressed interest in appropriate content;
Relationships built up with the media over a period of years are aimed at generating substantial media interest in the Programme's works and through that impact on practice and learning outcomes, from articles in specialist and broadsheet press, radio and TV.
(b) Post-Programme Impact Strategy
With the end-date of the Programme now extended to 2008 because of Phase III, the need for consideration of post-Programme issues is less urgent. However, since longer term thinking does influence strategy for the short-to-medium term, the Programme will keep the issues set out below under review:
- i. will there be funding for the co-ordination of impact work after the end of
individual projects and the Programme? Our aim should be to
achieve maximum impact and best value, and opportunities will
be lost if work ceases at an arbitrary date;
- ii. the role of partner organisations and networks which are not time-limited.
To what extent will other permanent education / training organisations
be able to take on the Programme agenda if / when it closes?;
- iii. the ability and willingness of project researchers to continue to communicate
research findings after funding ends is uncertain. Many will
be moving on to other research projects. We will continue to
work with projects and individual researchers to address this
challenge to maintaining expertise, energy, networking and human
- iv. a cadre of "Practitioner Champions" to take research findings to colleagues
would be immensely valuable. Creative thinking on how this can
be achieved is needed, to maintain the expertise and commitment
of practitioner partners after projects end;
- v. how will the Programme website be maintained, supported and ideally developed
further after the Programme finishes?
At the start of the Programme a Communication Audit was undertaken, to identify
potential users and beneficiaries and existing networks of communication
The Audit asked a range of stakeholder groups and individuals the best ways of engaging and communicating with them, with the aim of making sure we listen to their views on all aspects of the research from design to dissemination of findings.
A further Audit / evaluation of progress is planned for late 2002, when the shape of Phase III is more defined.
Developing the Communication and Impact Plan
This Communication and Impact Plan is an evolving document and is reviewed periodically
as the Programme progresses, to reflect changes in our priorities,
project progress and findings and policy developments. The aim
is to make sure that communication into and from the Programme
continues to be effective and targeted at maximising our influence