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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Brown, C & Zhang, D. (2017). How can school leaders establish evidence informed schools: an analysis of the effectiveness of potential school policy levers. Educational Management and Leadership 45(3): 382-401.

Author(s) from Durham


This article has three aims: first, it examines the notion of evidence-informed practice and its benefits, as well as recent educational policy designed to promote schools’ use of evidence. Second, it examines four distinct but overlapping and interdependent factors that school leaders need to consider if they wish to establish evidence-informed practice within their school. These factors are: 1) the existence of teacher capacity to engage in and with research and data; 2) school cultures that are attuned to evidence use; 3) schools promoting the use of research as part of an effective learning environment; and 4) the existence of effective structures, system and resource that facilitate research-use and the sharing of best practice. Third we describe how the article’s authors undertook a survey of 696 practitioners in relation to these factors. Also how, with the resultant data we built a Gradient Boosted Tree predictive model to examine the potential policy levers available to school leaders wishing to promote evidence use in their schools. We conclude the article by setting out which of these factors is most likely to increase both support for evidence informed change within schools as well as boost instances of evidence informed practice by teachers.

School of Education