"The Toolkit doesn't tell us what to think, but provides an insight into research so we can make better judgments of our own." Professor Martin Westwell - Director, Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century.
Like any toolkit, the Teaching & Learning Toolkit will be most useful when in the hands of professionals. The aim of the Toolkit is to support teachers to make their own informed choices and adopt a more ‘evidence based’ approach.
We believe that the Toolkit should be used as one step in a three-step decision-making process.
Before identifying a new strategy, it is important to consider your school’s context, and what you want to achieve. Much depends on your school, its teachers (their levels of knowledge and experience), and its students (their level of attainment and their social background). Internal data and professional judgement should be used to identify priorities.
Having identified what you want to achieve, the summaries in the Toolkit can be used to help identify solutions. Crucially, the summaries in the Toolkit combine evidence from a range of different research studies into a single average for each area. There is no guarantee that this average will be the impact in your school. However, we think that evidence of average impact elsewhere can enable schools to identify a good ‘bet’ on what might be valuable, and strike a note of caution against trying out something which has not worked so well in the past.
As a result of the importance of context, it is crucial to use the Toolkit alongside on-going evaluations of the impact of the decisions you make, to ensure that the approaches you use are having the desired effect. Many changes in schools initially feel positive but have little lasting impact on learning so this step is essential.
Finally, it should be noted that the evidence summarised in the Toolkit takes educational attainment as its primary metric. Most of the measures used are traditional measures of attainment such as curriculum tests and examinations. Other outcomes such as aspiration, attendance or behaviour are not systematically captured in the Toolkit impact measures, except where they have been shown to have a subsequent impact on attainment outcomes.
Watch this video on how the Toolkit can help educators make decisions about approaches they're considering implementing in their schools.