Informing schools; informing our programmes

How our research will help you

The NIoT is researching what works best in teacher and leader development. As soon as we have evidence showing practical ways to improve training or professional development, we will use that evidence to inform the programmes we offer. We will also communicate it to schools and providers across the sector, so that they can use it, too.

How our research will help your students

Our research will be fed back into schools, because we want teachers and leaders, no matter where they work, to receive the best professional development possible – ensuring that their students receive the best education possible.

The cutting edge of educational research

We will build on international standards of best practice in research production and communication. But we will also be sector-led. We will consult with teachers and leaders, and use our research in a transparent and accessible way to inform best practice.

"We want teachers and leaders to design our learning agenda. Then we will design our research so that it answers precisely the questions they most care about." Hear more from our Executive Director of Research and Best Practice, Calum Davey.


The NIoT research team is currently engaged in projects, which will produce evidence that will directly inform the teacher-training and professional-development programmes we offer, and which we will communicate to schools and providers across the sector.

Estimating teacher value-added from schools’ internal assessments in England

Schools in England face enormous retention and recruitment challenges. Policymakers and school leaders are focused on developing our existing teachers as effectively as possible but cannot know which training pathways are best because we have no reliable way of estimating a teacher’s impact.

The growth of Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) provides an opportunity to estimate teacher impact in England. In some trusts, thousands of pupils across dozens of schools can sit the same assessment at the same time, sometimes having been taught the same curriculum. The assessment data can be anonymised so that no individual school, teacher, or pupil can be identified. Researchers can analyse these completely anonymised assessment results to see if some teachers achieve more progress than others, accounting for their pupils’ prior attainment and key demographic information (such as SEND status, or eligibility for Free School Meals). While remaining completely anonymous, these estimates of teacher impact could be used to analyse whether some teacher development pathways are more effective than others.

The research set out to establish that the use of anonymised assessment data for these purposes is acceptable to teachers and school leaders, and that the assessments are sufficiently accurate measures of attainment.

Read the reports

Project team:
Professor Robert Coe, Dr Ourania Ventista, Dr Raj Chande, Claire Maud, Professor Stuart Kime, and Shaun Dillon

Delivering the ECF in small schools in rural and coastal communities

The Early Career Framework (ECF) underpins an entitlement for all early career teachers to a fully-funded, two-year package of support and training, as part of wider reforms to teacher training and development (DfE, 2019). Early evaluations of the ECF have shown that early career teachers hugely value the support they receive from their mentors, however that workload and balancing responsibilities for mentors remains a challenge (DfE, 2023). However we do not know enough about how the ECF is being experienced in schools in different parts of the country, and for schools of different sizes. This mixed-methods study, co-led by the NIoT, the South West Institute for Teaching [SWIFT], and the David Ross Education Trust [DRET], will examine the experiences of schools delivering the ECF in rural and coastal communities, with a particular focus on small schools. The study aims to understand the experiences of delivering the ECF in small schools in rural and coastal communities in England, to learn about current great practice, and what models of design and support for delivering the ECF might be helpful and feasible in these contexts.

We aim to:

  • Learn more about experiences of ECTs, mentors and school leaders’ participating in, and delivering, the ECF in small schools in rural and coastal communities;
  • Understand if these experiences align with those in other schools and communities;
  • Learn from great practice that providers and schools are currently using to address these challenges, and how far these are perceived to be effective;
  • Identify possible strategies for future ECF programme design, delivery and support for small schools in rural and coastal communities.


Project team:
Dr Ellen Turner, National Institute of TeachingKaty Micklewright, National Institute of TeachingDr Georgina Hudson, National Institute of TeachingDr Lewis Doyle, National Institute of TeachingJen Knowles, South West Institute for TeachingDr Grace Healy, David Ross Education TrustDr Calum Davey, National Institute of Teaching
January 2023 – September 2024
Protocol published

Exploring teachers’ and students’ perceptions of generative AI in education

The rapidly increasing interest in - and adoption of - Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools for educational purposes in recent years has resulted in a fast-growing body of research in this area. However, such has been the speed of development in the field that up-to-date research into teachers’ and students’ perspectives on AI is essential to better understand the opportunities and risks arising from AI use, and the barriers and facilitators to its implementation in schools.

This qualitative study - embedded within a broader project that sees the NIoT collaborate with the Department for Education, Faculty, and the AI in Schools Initiative – uses semi-structured interviews to explore teachers’ experiences of trialling a new demo AI tool for providing feedback on students’ work, as well as their views on how such tools may change their practice going forward. We will also seek students’ views on these issues via focus group discussions.


  • Understand teachers’ perceptions of opportunities and risks associated with using AI tools that provide feedback on students’ work.
  • Identify the perceived barriers and facilitators to AI use in schools.

Study protocol

Project team:
Dr Lewis Doyle, Research Fellow, NIoT Dr Ellen Turner, Head of Evaluation and Observational Research, NIoT
September 2023 – March 2024
Study Protocol Published

Setting up the Research Ethics Review Procedure at the National Institute of Teaching

Following the implementation of an interim ethics review procedure, the NIoT’s Research Ethics Committee was established, comprising a Chair, who oversees the review and approval mechanism of research conducted within the NIoT, and a Research Assistant, who provides administrative and training support. As a research-informed teacher education organization that conducts primary research, it is necessary for the NIoT to regularly revise its ethics review guidelines and refine its research approval procedure. The NIoT’s ethics review procedure intends to be efficient, constructive, and fit-for-purpose, without comprising its integrity and rigor. To achieve this, there is a need to employ a systematic and transparent approach to developing such guideline and documents, and benchmark them against ethics review process of universities and research organisations in and outside of the UK.

Research Aims

  • To conduct a desk-based review on ethics review guidelines and documents of universities, research organisations, and learned societies;
  • To revise and refine the interim research ethics review guideline and procedure at the NIoT;
  • To develop pro forma documents for ethics review application;
  • To develop research ethics case studies to illustrate the new guideline;
  • To provide regular training to NIoT staff on research ethics.

Read the project plan

Project team:
Professor Sin Wang Chong, Head of Evidence Synthesis and Chair of Research Ethics Qi Liu, Research Assistant, Research Ethics Committee
Guideline and pro forma documents: December 2023 – December 2024 Research ethics case studies: January 2025 – December 2025
Project plan published

Assessing the Impact of Virtual School Visits in Initial Teacher Education

Ensuring trainee teachers have effective high-quality training is essential for developing great educators. In England, one key element of this training is Intensive Training and Practice (ITaP). ITaP is designed to provide trainees with focused exposure to specific foundational aspects of the curriculum, offering immediate feedback, expert support, and concentrating on strengthening the link between evidence and their practice.

Starting from the 2024/25 academic year, all initial teacher education programmes in England will be required to include ITaP. An early pilot of ITaP was conducted by the National Institute of Teaching in 2022, revealing that hybrid delivery of certain aspects of this training could help with scale and consistency. However, the evidence base concerning the effectiveness of remote or blended learning in teacher education is currently limited, and we need to know more about how to deliver this at national level.

This mixed-methods evaluation study will compare the effectiveness of two modes of implementing exposure to expert research-informed practice and immersion in a live teaching environment as part of the ITaP programme: virtual school visits and in-person school visits, aiming to better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with both.


  • Estimate the relative effectiveness of a virtual school visit, in comparison with an in-person school visit, as part of the delivery of Intensive Training and Practice in initial teacher education in England.
  • To build theory about how a school visit works to achieve the aims of ITAP, and to understand mechanisms of impact for virtual and in-person delivery in achieving these aims.

The study protocol has been submitted to Trials and is presently undergoing review. A pre-print is available here:

Protocol: Assessing the Impact of Virtual School Visits in Initial Teacher Education

Project team:
Dr Lydia Lymperis, Research Fellow, NIoT Dr Ellen Turner, Head of Evaluation and Observational Research, NIoT Emily Beach, Head of ITE Faculty, NIoT Dr Calum Davey, Executive Director of Research, NIoT Dr Georgina Hudson, Research Fellow, NIoT Dr Rob Nash, Head of Psychological Research, NIoT Alex Swartz, Research Assistant, Independent
Sept 2023 –Aug 2024
Protocol pre-print published

Protocol for a meta-review in teacher education and professional development

Educational research is an ever-expanding field, requiring evidence to be collated and synthesised, providing up-to-date and relevant information to researchers, educators, and policy makers. In the field of teacher education and professional development, such secondary reviews can lead to evidence-based reform, with the potential to improve educational outcomes.

However, as the number of evidence synthesis papers increase, so does the risk of ‘research waste’ where multiple reviews are conducted on overlapping or similar topics. The National Institute of Teaching plans to carry out a ‘meta-review’, combining and evaluating secondary reviews on teacher education and professional development, allowing policy makers and educators to consider all the available evidence from around the world.

Research Aims:

The meta-review will address the following research questions:

  • What topics and sub-topics in initial teacher education and in-service professional development have been reviewed?
  • What is the demographic distribution of participants (e.g., educational settings, countries/regions, subject/phase) in these reviews?
  • What kinds of evidence syntheses have been used?
  • What programmes or interventions are employed in initial teacher education and in-service professional development?
  • What are the key reported findings in these topics and sub-topics?
  • What is the quality of the synthesised evidence?

In addition to the meta-review, the project will deliver:

  • A ‘living library’ of key literature in teacher education
  • An evidence ‘gap map’ for researchers and funders to review existing evidence and identify areas where further research is necessary
  • An interactive evidence toolkit, likely to include multimedia resources for teachers and teacher educators to use such as infographics, videos, interviews, podcasts.

NIoT Meta review protocol

Updated Meta review protocol May 2024

Project team:
Professor Sin Wang Chong, Head of Evidence Synthesis, NIoT Dr Emily Oxley, Research Fellow, NIoT Dr Melissa Bond, Research Fellow, NIoT Dr Violeta Negrea, Research Fellow, NIoT Dr Evie Smith, Research Fellow, NIoT
Phase 1 (meta-review): January – August 2024 Phase 2 (living library, gap-map and interactive evidence toolkit): September 2024 – December 2025.

Teacher recruitment and retention in schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas in England: A review of practice

There are currently significant challenges in teacher recruitment and retention in England, with schools serving disadvantaged communities in particular facing even greater challenges in recruiting and retaining teachers.

Recent research has pointed to the gravity of the issue of teacher shortage and its negative impact on disadvantaged schools, especially on education quality. To better understand the strategies employed by English schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas to support teacher recruitment and retention, the NIoT, with support from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), is conducting a review of practice across a large sample of schools serving disadvantaged areas in England.

The research includes two phases:

1) Desk-based review and analysis of school job advertisements in 55 EIAs (Education Investment Areas);

2) Survey issued to staff in our four founding Multi-Academy Trusts and Associate Colleges located within EIAs.

The findings from this review will help us to build a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of recruitment and retention strategies in disadvantaged areas and indicate which of these strategies are perceived by teachers as most effective.

Research aims

This review of practice aims to answer the following research questions:

1) What are the teacher recruitment and retention strategies used in primary and secondary schools in England in socio-economically challenging areas?

2) What is the perceived importance of these strategies?

Practice review findings and study plan

Project team:
Professor Sin Wang Chong, Head of Evidence Synthesis, NIoT Dr Melissa Bond, Research Fellow, NIoT Dr Violeta Negrea, Research Fellow, NIoT Dr Emily Oxley, Research Fellow, NIoT Qi Liu, Research Assistant, NIoT Ming Sum Kong, Research Assistant, NIoT Jack Worth, Lead Economist, NFER

Closer to the classroom: Teacher’ professional development research priorities

We ran a consultation to understand what questions about teacher education and professional development teachers and leaders want answered. We listened to teachers, school leaders, education researchers, policy maker and teacher trainers and, from over two thousand responses, these are the professional development priorities that emerged.

NIoT Closer to the Classroom Report

Project team:
Lia Commissar, Head of Impact, NIoT Dr Calum Davey, Executive Director of Research, NIoT

National Institute of Teaching: Our research agenda (2024-2027)

The National Institute of Teaching’s Inaugral Research Agenda outlines the eight topics we will prioritise when conducting research over the next three years. This school-led research agenda was derived from the consultation with the sector that we published in our Closer to the Classroom report (2023).

NIoT Research Agenda 2024-2027

Project team:
Lia Commissar, Head of Impact, NIoT Dr Calum Davey, Executive Director of Research, NIoT

Mentoring and coaching trainee and early career teachers

All trainee and early-career teachers have mentors. Under the new Early Career Framework, these mentors play a more important role than ever. But the way mentors are chosen and the support they offer varies widely – there is considerable ambiguity about what good mentoring actually involves.

For example, we know that many schools are struggling to identify appropriate mentors and to provide them with sufficient time and support.  Within this context there is a need for more guidance.

Our research on teacher mentoring explores how mentoring programmes can best deliver the outcomes we care about – teacher wellbeing, retention, improved teaching practice and pupil attainment. It's also informed by research with current teachers, and by an expert panel including teaching leaders. We will put its findings into practice in our own mentoring programmes and then communicate them to the wider sector.

Research Aims

  • To identify what research is promising and where there are gaps in the evidence, in order to inform the commissioning of new research into teacher mentoring and coaching
  • To inform a set of recommendations for schools and teacher-development providers on effective practice in novice and early-career teacher mentoring and coaching

Expert panel

  • Cat Scutt, MBE, Chartered College of Teaching
  • Dr Sam Sims, UCL Institute of Education
  • Professor Tanya Ovenden-Hope, Plymouth Marjon University
  • Dr Dan Goldhaber, American Institutes for Research
  • Natasha Raheem, Dixons Academies Trust
  • Sharon Harrison, Star Academies
  • Professor Sam Twiselton, OBE, Sheffield Hallam University

Read the published reports here

Project team:
Professor Andrew Hobson (University of Brighton)Professor Emerita Bronwen Maxwell (Sheffield Hallam University)Catherine Manning (Education and Training Foundation)Professor Becky Allen (Teacher Tapp)Jennifer Stevenson, independent (3ie senior research fellow)Dr Zsolt Kiss (ZK Analytics)Dr Clara Joergensen (University of Birmingham)

Intensive practice: new research

Providing high-quality opportunities for trainee teachers to practise is one of the essential building blocks of great teacher training. Practice can help trainees refine their skill and deepen their understanding of the relationship between educational theory and its application in the classroom.

There is promising evidence that increasing the amount of high-quality practice that trainees undertake within initial teacher training can improve outcomes for teachers and their pupils.

This project aims to help initial teacher training providers design and deliver effective intensive training and practice, by documenting the planning and piloting process of four initial teacher training providers working in different contexts.

Research Aims

  • Inform providers’ decision-making about the design and delivery of intensive practice during initial teacher training
  • Identify barriers and solutions to support the successful delivery of intensive practice
  • Inform future research about intensive practice, conducted both within the NIoT and by other organisations

Evaluation Plan

Intensive Training and Practice Pilot Evaluation Report

Intensive Training and Practice Pilot Evaluation Summary Report

Project team:
Project Director and Team Lead: Lydia Marshall (Oxford MeasurEd)
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