Laboratory School Status

What is a Laboratory School?

A Laboratory School is a network of schools, linked to a University, who are committed to using research and collaboration to help them grow even stronger. Whilst there are accredited schools all over the world, we were the first in Norfolk to be selected. We were approached to be part of University of Bolton’s Lab School network because of our Good OFSTED rating, our strong exam results, our ethos and our record of researched-based pedagogy.

The Laboratory School programme is an international initiative which enables us to build upon an already strong foundation of good practice through research-based development of classroom practice, to ensure every student has the best learning experience possible during their time at the school and college.

This includes working with partner schools in other parts of the UK, as well as in Australia, China, India, Sweden and the USA.

What is the aim of a Laboratory School?

A Laboratory School focusses on developing outstanding colleagues who have a capacity for autonomous professional self-development through systematic self-study, through the study of the work of others in their field and through the testing of ideas by research procedures.

Five Areas of Focus for Laboratory Schools
  1. Research-based practice.
  2. Peer-to-peer learning and professional development.
  3. The practices and management arrangements associated with Instructional Leadership.
  4. Building capacity through networking by collaborating with other schools and partners to improve all aspects of professional practice.
  5. Providing a site for the research into educational practice through Masters & Doctoral degrees as well as funded research projects.
How does it benefit the school?

A key part of our approach is the use of coaching as a way of helping both staff and students set long term goals for improving their skills in learning. For staff this means having the chance to work closely with teachers from other areas of the school and other schools to develop high quality learning strategies for lessons. For students, trained sixth form students from our College work closely with our younger high school students to develop ambitious goals for their future, and to put those ambitions into practice.

During the summer of 2021 extensive surveys amongst staff, staff, parents and carers and other stakeholders, as well as invitational visits from other educational leaders, enabled us to build a clear picture of life at Northgate High School and Dereham Sixth Form College. This is the foundation upon which the Laboratory School scheme will build.