The school research lead and making the most of supporting evidence-based practice in schools

School research leads across country are trying to encourage the use of evidence-based practice. No doubts lots of different interventions, be it lesson study, joint-practice development, journal clubs, conferences, seminars and disciplined inquiry - have been introduced. Alternatively the school may be involved in research studies looking at ways of developing evidence use,  Hammersley-Fletcher, Lewin, et al. (2015), Griggs, Speight, et al. (2016), Speight, Callanan, et al. (2016) and  Brown (2017).  So to make the most of all this activity, and to ensure that colleagues learn from both the success and failure of others, it is sensible to use a basic common structure to report on educational interventions designed to support evidence-informed/based practice within schools.

The GREET check-list

The GREET check-list  - Phillips, Lewis, McEvoy, Galipeau, Glasziou, Moher, et al. (2016) was developed to provide guidance n the reporting of educational interventions for evidence-based practice within medicine.   The check-list was the product of a systematic review, Delphi survey and three consensus discussions, with the result being a 17 item check-list . Guidance on how to complete the GREET checklist has been provided by Phillips, Lewis, McEvoy, Galipeau, Glasziou, Hammick, et al. (2016) and this guidance has been used to develop an exemplar report of an evidence-based educational intervention – journal clubs.

Journal Clubs

1. INTERVENTION: Provide a brief description of the educational intervention for all groups involved [e.g. control and comparator(s)].

The introduction of a journal club – facilitated by the school research lead - for teaching and other staff who wished to attend the sessions.

2. THEORY: Describe the educational theory(ies), concept or approach used in the intervention.

If teachers are ‘exposed’ to research this will ultimately bring about changes in teaching practice, resulting in improved learning outcomes for pupils

3. LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Describe the learning objectives for all groups involved in the educational intervention.

  • To develop the reading habits of the participants

  • To improve participants knowledge of relevant educational research

  • To help develop participants skills in critically appraising research and applying it to teaching

4. EBP CONTENT: List the foundation steps of EBP (ask, acquire, appraise, apply, assess) included in the educational intervention.

The core content focused on appraising educational research

5. MATERIALS: Describe the specific educational materials used in the educational intervention. Include materials provided to the learners and those used in the training of educational intervention providers.

Attendees were directed towards Chartered College of Teaching resources designed to give brief summaries of different types of research reports, including how to go about reading research.

6. EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES: Describe the teaching / learning strategies (e.g. tutorials, lectures, online modules) used in the educational intervention.

Seminars led by the school research lead

7. INCENTIVES: Describe any incentives or reimbursements provided to the learners.

A group of ten staff – out of a possible 100 eligible staff –decided to attend the journal club. 

Attendees to the sessions were provided with light refreshments – tea, coffee and biscuits

8. INSTRUCTORS: For each instructor(s) involved in the educational intervention describe their professional discipline, teaching experience / expertise. Include any specific training related to the educational intervention provided for the instructor(s).

The sessions were facilitated by the school research lead who had recently completed a MA in Education.

9. DELIVERY: Describe the modes of delivery (e.g. face-to-face, internet or independent study package) of the educational intervention. Include whether the intervention was provided individually or in a group and the ratio of learners to instructors.

In October 2018 school research lead conducted an introductory session on how to appraise educational research.  In subsequent sessions the school research lead facilitated a structured discussion on the reading scheduled for that session.

10. ENVIRONMENT: Describe the relevant physical learning spaces (e.g. conference, university lecture theatre, hospital ward, community) where the teaching / learning occurred. 

The sessions were held in the seminar room – located within the school library. 

11. SCHEDULE: Describe the scheduling of the educational intervention including the number of sessions, their frequency, timing and duration

A total of six sessions were held, with a session being held every half-term.  Each session took place on a Wednesday and 4.00 pm and lasted approximately 45 minutes.  The intervention was implemented over the course of 2018-19 academic year.

12. Describe the amount of time learners spent in face to face contact with instructors and any designated time spent in self-directed learning activities.

Participants spent approximately 4 ½ hours in the sessions, with another 4 ½ hours spent reading materials prior to the sessions. 

13. Did the educational intervention require specific adaptation for the learners? If yes, please describe the adaptations made for the learner(s) or group(s).

Some participants had little or no knowledge of educational research and they were paired with other participants who had recently participated in post-graduate study.

14. Was the educational intervention modified during the course of the study? If yes, describe the changes (what, why, when, and how).

It had been intended to look at a key text, for example,  during each session.  It soon became apparent that participants were able to do the required reading.  Texts subsequently used were primarily used were articles from the Chartered College of Teaching journal Impact.

15. ATTENDANCE: Describe the learner attendance, including how this was assessed and by whom. Describe any strategies that were used to facilitate attendance.

On average only six out of ten staff attended the sessions.  Two participants attended all six sessions – with two participants only attending two sessions.  Records of attendances were kept by the school research lead.

16. Describe any processes used to determine whether the materials  and the educational strategies used in the educational intervention were delivered as originally planned.

The school research lead undertook research into how journal clubs had been successfully run in both medicine and schools based and devised the session based on this reading

17. Describe the extent to which the number of sessions, their frequency, timing and duration for the educational intervention was delivered as scheduled

All the sessions were delivered as scheduled


Whilst in medicine there is some consensus on the competences associated with evidence-based practice - Dawes, Summerskill, et al. (2005) – this does not appear to be the case in education.  As such the check-list may or may not be relevant to education. And of course, it provides only the sketchiest of outlines of how the implementation was Implemented and no data of the impact of the intervention on pupils outcomes. Nevertheless, the check-list does provide a time efficient way of capturing the essence of what was done, and we should never the perfect be the enemy of the good.

And finally

If you are interested on the use of check-lists may I suggest you have look at the work of both Atul Gawande and Harry Fletcher-Wood. (see for references)






Brown, C. (2017). Research Learning Communities: How the Rlc Approach Enables Teachers to Use Research to Improve Their Practice and the Benefits for Students That Occur as a Result. Research for All. 1. 2. 387-405.

Dawes, M., Summerskill, W., Glasziou, P., Cartabellotta, A., Martin, J., Hopayian, K., Porzsolt, F., Burls, A. and Osborne, J. (2005). Sicily Statement on Evidence-Based Practice. BMC medical education. 5. 1. 1.

Griggs, J., Speight, S. and Farias, J. C. (2016). Ashford Teaching Alliance Research Champion: Evaluation Report and Executive Summary. Education Endowment Foundation.

Hammersley-Fletcher, L., Lewin, C., Davies, C., Duggan, J., Rowley, H. and Spink, E. (2015). Evidence-Based Teaching: Advancing Capability and Capacity for Enquiry in Schools: Interim Report. London. National College for Teaching and Leadership.

Phillips, A., Lewis, L., McEvoy, M., Galipeau, J., Glasziou, P., Hammick, M., Moher, D., Tilson, J. and Williams, M. (2016). Explanation and Elaboration Paper (E&E) for the Guideline for Reporting Evidence-Based Practice Educational Interventions and Teaching (Greet).. University of South Australia

Phillips, A. C., Lewis, L. K., McEvoy, M. P., Galipeau, J., Glasziou, P., Moher, D., Tilson, J. K. and Williams, M. T. (2016). Development and Validation of the Guideline for Reporting Evidence-Based Practice Educational Interventions and Teaching (Greet). BMC medical education. 16. 1. 237.

Speight, S., Callanan, M., Griggs, J., Farias, J. C. and Fry, A. (2016). Rochdale Research into Practice: Evaluation Report and Executive Summary. Education Endowment Foundation.