Teacher Researcher’s Blog

Welcome to my first blog post as a Teacher Researcher at Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre. My name is Claire Tyson and I have worked at Homewood for six years as a Science Teacher and more recently as a Teacher Researcher.

I have also been a research student in the field of medicine and clinical trial since 2006 and I find there are many opportunities to transfer skills and ideas to research projects in education.

Some of the projects I have been working on at Homewood have been about the wellbeing of students, about how we can support their learning and what difference can we make to student’s lives.

As new research papers are published I will be sharing the highlights with you and reflecting on how they might impact on our community of teaching and learning.

A good example of this kind of research is a recent paper (Nicoletti and Rabe, 2014) that explores the ‘sibling spillover effect or how much a younger sibling’s school achievement is affected by his/her older sibling’s achievement at school.

They found that the older sibling’s achievement may have a direct effect on the younger sibling’s school grades if 1) the older sibling teaches the younger sibling or helps with homework; 2) the younger sibling imitates the older sibling, for example in their work style, or conversely tries to be different, for example to avoid competition; 3) the older sibling passes on important information about educational choices or school and teachers to the younger sibling.

They used several statistical techniques to make sure that they could distinguish the direct influence of the older to the younger sibling, from any similarities in their exam grades that are caused by the fact that they come from the same family and are likely to go to the same school.

Their study shows that there is a small direct effect from the older sibling’s test scores to the younger sibling’s exam marks. More precisely, for each GCSE exam grade improvement of the older sibling – for example from a B to an A – the younger sibling’s exam marks would go up by just 4% of a grade.

I am also interested in how our knowledge of neuroscience and teenage brain development can shape our curriculum. In future blogs we will be asking ‘what role does technology play in learning and teaching?’ and exploring the impact of building positive relationships in the classroom.

The main reason for starting this blog is to share ideas, concepts and questions with you and I look forward to receiving your feedback. You can contact me by email on c.tyson@homewood.kent.sch.uk and follow me on Twitter at ClaireTyson9.


NICOLETTI, C. & RABE, B. 2014. Sibling spillover effects in school achievement.

Click here to read Claire’s article that has been published on: inovatemyschool.com/applying-the-work-of-philosopher-john-dewey-to-our-school