Laidlaw Research Proposal - What Makes a Successful Multi-Academy Trust?

Pre-defined research project in partnership with Durham University. My research will focus on measuring the impact that gamifying learning has on ethnic-minority and socio-economically disadvantaged students in Laidlaw Academies academic progress.

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Because academies are not required to adhere to the national curriculum, they have greater flexibility in what content teachers teach, and how this is done. The common method adopted in public schools is Victorian-style learning – whereby students are sat in rows, a teacher recalls information off a whiteboard, and students mostly learn from reading and answering questions from a textbook. I intend to look at if we change the way that students are taught, how will this impact their performance in examinations, and how they view education.

My research will measure the level of impact (if at all) that gamifying learning has on improving the attainment score, content retention levels, and the uptake of core subjects at post-16 education, of ethnic minority and poor students at Multi-Academy Trusts. This research falls under the pre-determined subtopic of ‘digital pedagogy’. Gamification is the idea of using game-based elements to increase the students’ engagement in the classroom.

My focus will particularly be on students from ethnic-minority and low socio-economic backgrounds because, as noted by the Department for Education, they statistically achieve the lowest attainment score. In addition, the global pandemic has amplified the discrepancies surrounding learning and access to quality education. If we can assess how sponsored schools can positively influence students' learning capabilities, this could be translated and adapted to be used in public schools as well. Furthermore, as a black student from a socio-economically disadvantaged background, I have seen first-hand what a lack of modernisation of learning can do to break the spirits of students, their confidence in their intellect, and their ability to do well in tests - because they were not designed for certain kinds of learners.

The work will be split into two areas, qualitative research, and quantitative research. I want to use numbers-driven data to back up my findings on how gamifying learning can improve learning retention and academic attainment. I also want to critically analyse the current research and commentary regarding digital pedagogy.

Qualitative Research

  • Produce a questionnaire with both open and closed questions to gauge how students currently feel about how they are taught in the classroom.
  • Interview students, asking them how they have learned during the pandemic, whether they feel that digital learning has enhanced or weakened their engagement with their subjects.
  • Interview teachers from Maths, English, Science department to see what they think about the future of learning.

Quantitative Research

  • Produce a survey measuring the likelihood that students will pick certain subjects post-GCSE.
  • Measure the average academic attainment level in core subjects of a sample class, that of BAME students specifically, compare it with the national average.
  • Produce a survey measuring students’ time spent online.
  • Produce a survey measuring the time students spend on studying (correlate with qualitative evidence noting the primary methods used to teach currently)
  • Note how many students have sufficient access to good internet, and adequate computers.

Pearls Eddo (She/Her)

Law LLB, University of Leeds

Laidlaw Scholar 2021 - incoming second-year Law LLB student at University of Leeds. Co-Founder and Schools Outreach Officer of The 93% Club Leeds. Volunteer Adviser - Citizens Advice CW

My research will measure the impact that gamifying learning has on improving the attainment score and content retention levels of ethnic minority and socio-economically disadvantaged students at Multi-Academy Trusts. 


So interesting!! Hope your research goes well, it sounds like it could have massive implications.