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Current / Recent Research

The Millais Alliance is currently involved in a range of research activities. The aim of this section of the website is to provide information on all the different research projects that are / have taken place recently within the Alliance. 

This page will be regularly updated with information so please keep coming back for information. 

Research currently taking place across the Alliance

  • Academic Year 16/17 -

Four Millais colleagues have been involved in classroom-based research adhering to the following criteria:

1.            Address an aspect of the 'Closing the Gap' agenda

2.            Use classroom based interventions where possible

3.            Use evidence from research that has already been carried out

4.            Involve action research methodology

5.            Be relevant to the school context

6.            Must engage with staff and or pupils at least 3 schools

7.            Have measurable impact which is disseminated to alliance schools and the NCTL.

The work aimed to increase the use of EBT in our Teaching and Learning.  The position holders were expected to deliver an aspect of whole school work both in Millais and also with other schools in our alliance, making the work both inward and outward facing.

The projects were as follows:


Caroline Jago:   ‘I’m not good enough’: An investigation into the perceptions of Year 7 students about traffic-lighted assessment and PCTL feedback.






Karen Potter: An investigation into the perceptions of Year 10 students with Dyslexia regarding the ways teachers can support their learning in the classroom




Victoria Judd: Closing the Gap Through Technology: To what extent does use of technology in lessons increase motivation of Pupil Premium students compared to their compatriots in class?


David Newell: Closing the Gap with transition data





  • University of Sussex Reading Project - two members of the English team at Millais are working on a project led by Sussex involving Year 8 English classes in 10 schools across Sussex. It is taking place from January - April 2015. The focus of the project is to evaluate the impact of an innovative teacher-development reading programme on a group of ten secondary English teachers and their Year 8 classes. This will be achieved by measuring gains in pupils' reading comprehension in reading test and comparing these with a parallel set of year 8 'comparison' classes. The reading programme has been designed to focus on the most effective teaching strategies and teacher knowledge about reading, drawn from research.     
  • Maths Curriculum Area - the Maths Team are currently working together on a project looking at enquiry based Maths 
  • Mental Health Research - the Millais SENCo and Education Psychologist along with the Curriculum Inclusion Manager are currently researching into best practice in supporting teenage mental health issues. 

In addition many members of staff across the Alliance are taking part in Master's programme at local Universities. 

MA Education Research 

Claire Power (Millais School) 

Claire completed her MA dissertation about homework in Autumn 2014. The main findings from her  research into homework were that:

  • Overall, pupils, parents and teachers place a high value on the impact of homework and see it as an important learning tool-linked to academic progress
  • Although other benefits of homework were identified; development of independent learning skills, additional study skills and building of home-school relationships, these additional and also valuable benefits appear to be overshadowed by the strong association held by the stakeholders between homework and academic achievement.
  • If homework is to still be used, it would therefore be prudent to focus on developing homework practice to maximise a range of benefits and not just view homework as an academic tool.
  • When setting homework tasks it is important that they are planned in advance (when planning SOW), and that tasks are differentiated, meaningful and have straightforward instructions. An element of pupil choice is also a useful tool for engaging pupils (and building in differentiation). 

Contact Claire 

Teresa Gooda (The Weald School)

How can the teaching of writing, and in particular of writing about poetry, be developed through a shift in pedagogical approach towards a focus on ‘poesis’ (making) to develop the engagement and motivation of A Level English Literature Students?

Secondary English teachers are responsible for teaching both reading and writing yet the relationship between the two is complex, and they are often taught as separate components. This study began as an investigation into the potential of writing to strengthen students’ reading responses to poetry.  Acknowledging that pedagogical approaches to the teaching of poetry often emphasise analysis at the expense of creativity and enjoyment, the research explored strategies including free writing, heightened awareness, student voice and opportunities for public and private writing as part of the metacognition process; the specific teaching of poetic structure with an emphasis on the poetic function of language in its literal sense of ‘making’; and the encouragement of student perception of greater symbiosis between reading and writing.

The overall aim was to discover whether a changed approach to the teaching of poetry at A2 by immersing students in its construction rather than the more traditional approach of repeated analysis of canonical poets and poems would lead to an enhanced experience for the students in terms of increased motivation and engagement, and whether this would have long term benefits. 

This was carried out on a small scale by devising a sequence of ‘poesis’ lessons. The study then employed a variety of research methods to collect data and evidence in relation to the aim of the research, namely examining students’ written responses critically, measuring ‘before’ and ‘after’ exam practice responses and interviewing the students.

The findings from the research were collated and analysed in conjunction with the research question, literature review and the themes that became apparent throughout the research.  I had intended that the intervention of teaching the analysis of poetry from a ‘making’ perspective first would have the desired effect of increasing the students’ ability to articulate critical points of analysis.  This was perhaps true for some, but certainly not all, students. In summary, the data seemed to show that the intervention was more effective for those students at the upper end of the ability range.  The study also explores some of the possible reasons for this observed outcome and the potential for this kind of teaching moving forward.

Contact Teresa

James Turner (Imberhorne School)

‘I just can’t do it…’ Attribution, mindset and motivation

This study describes an investigation into the reasons that pupils ascribe to their successes and failures and whether these attributions differ according to academic ability. The aim was to formulate a method of identifying underachievement and to consider strategies that could be put in place to raise expectancy of success.

A small sample of twenty four secondary school age pupils participated in the study, answering voluntary questionnaires and participating in short semi-structured interviews. The questionnaires were based upon existing research in this field and designed to measure attributions, fixed and growth mindsets, multiple intelligences and self-efficacy. By combining these elements I aimed to develop an holistic approach to attribution retraining that I do not believe has been addressed in any depth before.

Despite the small sample I was able to draw some interesting conclusions suggesting that more academically successful pupils generally identify controllable attributions such as effort as the reasons for their success whilst less successful pupils often place more emphasis on ability. However there are exceptions and I believe that emotional intelligence has a significant role to play.

Contact James

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