Research reports

Research is a crucial and integral part of ecl’s creative process. Over the last decade, we have engaged in formal research projects, often as partners with universities. We encourage practitioners to write up their reflections in an informal way as part of their own process of learning and evaluating and because it provides rich anecdotal evidence that others can draw on.

We tend to build our research design using action research methods but working systemically means research method and design is an interesting area in itself. For example, three questions we hold, amongst many others, are: How can the system be represented accurately? How can valid data be revealed when working with the invisible? How can we bring together a phenomenological approach with the more conventional objectivist paradigms used in education. They are great inquiries to hold.

To give a flavour of our approach to research and enquiry, this website carries constantly changing examples of our research in the form of research reports but also reflective accounts, case stories and articles.

Since 2003, we have led or been involved in a number of research and innovation projects. These have been commissioned by foundations or the UK government as explorations with leaders, academics and professionals of interesting issues, insights and ideas that could lead to improvements in the effectiveness of education and care. The emphasis has invariably been on innovation and involved high levels of co-creating new approaches to leadership in schools, classroom practices, managing charities or dealing with home/school issues to name but four.

In each case the creative actions taken on the ground have produced many insights that have been captured in research reports written by those directly involved. Importantly, these insights have prompted an on-going shift in how the practitioners work on a day-to-day basis – that is the real measure of their importance.

Transitions in Early Years
Effective transitions as a foundation for emotional well-being, creativity and learning: 1. The Early Years 

Click to read more – Transitions in Early Years

Making the Invisible Visible
An approach to an awareness-based action research methodology that can help make visible the invisible patterns of behaviour in organizations and in so doing support purposeful change.

Click to read more – Making The Invisible Visible – Awareness-Based Action Research 2013

From Me to Us
Melissa Roussopoulos reports on the culture change project entitled ‘From Me to Us’ that ecl ran with the school from 2006.

Project run in conjunction with the nowherefoundation with funding from the Innovation Unit (Department of Education and Skills) the Specialist Schools Trust, BANES and the Hebron Trust.

The project focused on creating a nurture group for children at risk of exclusion, mentoring across all ages, and ‘Dissolving Barriers to Learning’ workshops that helped children with extreme difficulties. By focusing on the principles of ‘wholeness’ and ‘belonging’, the Ralph Allen School is now renowned for its inclusive approach to staff, parents and children.

Click to read more From Me to Us summary report 2008

Enhancing Children’s Learning
This report is on ecl‘s first research and innovation project sponsored by the DfES 2004.

Working with 16 primary schools in Wiltshire, ecl explored a systemic perspective that enabled individuals — heads, teachers and children — to see the ‘bigger picture’. By looking at the ‘whole child’ the learning climate and pupil’s engagement were greatly improved, leading to higher levels of social and academic achievement.

Click to read more Enhancing Children’s Learning report

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Our Breakthrough Question:

How can we release the inherent creativity and desire to learn of our children and young people - and help them flourish in a future filled with so many unknowns?



"There is a "critical" window of opportunity to stimulate and enrich the brain, up to the age of three that will have an effect on an individual's success in later life."

Ian Gilbert (2011)