Chris Shaw – Assistant Head Teacher – Whitburn Church of England Academy winner of the Marie Butterworth Prize for Practitioner Enquiry.

CfLaT said “Chris won the award for his dissertation – he had researched the influences on sixth formers” decisions regarding university applications. His research was based on creating a detailed understanding of the situation at a case study school and revealed the importance of anticipated employability, course reputation and parental expectations. Undertaken during the transition to higher university fees Chris (an Economics teacher) had expected to find the new ‘market’ forces having an effect. But, questionnaires, focus groups and documentary analysis led him to recognise the extent to which the changes to fees had already been internalised by the sixth formers. He also unpacked the students’ perceptions of the guidance and advice that was on offer, from school, universities, families and other agencies.

As a result of his study Chris was able to offer detailed advice to the case study school regarding future practices and in his new senior leadership role, at Whitburn Church of England Academy, is using the outcomes to develop strategies which will support the success of students attending the sixth form being opening in 2015.