The VITAE project was a four-year (2001-2005) longitudinal study, funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and carried out with 300 primary and secondary teachers in 100 schools in seven local education authorities (LEAs). The research was jointly conducted by the School of Education , University of Nottingham and the Institute of Education , University of London . The key aim of the research was to identify factors which may contribute to variations in teachers' professional and personal lives, and to examine why teachers do, or do not, become more effective over time.
The key questions addressed were:
Does teacher effectiveness vary from one year to another and in terms of different pupil outcomes and do teachers necessarily become more effective over time?
What are the roles of biography, culture and professional development?
How do schools and/or departments influence teachers' practice and their effectiveness?
Are teachers equally effective for different pupil groups or is there differential effectiveness relating (for example) to gender or socio-economic status?
Do the factors which influence effectiveness vary for teachers working in different contexts, or for different kinds of outcomes?
Do factors influencing teachers' effectiveness vary across different sectors (primary and secondary) and different age groups (Key Stage 1, 2 and 3)?
The innovative mixed methods design of the study recognised that effectiveness involves both teachers' perceptions of their own effectiveness and their impact on pupils' attitudes and attainments. Central to the research were: i) twice-yearly recorded interviews with the teachers in the study. These monitored their perceptions of effectiveness and the positive and negative influences upon these; and ii) the extent to which these related to pupil progress and attainment. Value-added analyses of pupils' progress and attainment and an annual pupil attitude survey were used to explore pupil outcomes and identity differences between classes and teaching groups for the teachers in the VITAE study. The synthesis and analytical integration of these data contributed to the development of linkages between different features of teachers' lives, professional life phases, identities and school contexts, the identification of teachers who were more, or less, successful in terms of pupil outcomes over a three-year period, and the key moderating and mediating influences which affected variations.