Evidence Leads in Education (ELEs)

Saffron Teaching School Hub is delighted to have designated its first cohort of Evidence Leads in Education to support its offer to schools across the region. ELEs are designated in partnership with the Unity Research School and the Education Endowment Foundation.

ELEs are highly successful practitioners who have a deep understanding of what evidence informed practice looks like in education, and a passion to share this with colleagues in other schools and educational contexts. They understand the positive impact of developing our schools and settings as a truly evidence-informed community, and play an active role in this within the Hub.

What is the role of the ELE?

ELEs champion evidence-informed practice in their settings and support practitioners in other settings to do the same. This may involve providing support for individual schools, as directed by the Hub, or contributing to wider projects across the Hub region. They also act as positive advocates for evidence-informed practice through, for example,  events, case studies and blogs.

Specific activities that may be undertaken by ELEs include:

  • Running reading groups;
  • Facilitating professional learning communities or networks
  • Leading training, particularly around Research School and EEF programmes
  • Writing case studies, articles or blogs
  • Signposting resources
  • Supporting the design and implementation of school-based research projects
  • Coaching and mentoring individual leaders and practitioners

How do I become an ELE?

Saffron Teaching School Hub will recruit ELEs on an annual basis. Information will be posted on this web page, when applicable. 

For more information about ELE status, contact Tracy Goodway.


Meet our team of ELEs



 Name: Lacey Davies
 Role: Deputy Headteacher
 School: Pear Tree Mead Academy
 Local Authority District: Harlow

About Lacey Davies

Leadership Experience:

  • Disadvantaged – linked to research and evidence 
  • Assessment
  • Behaviour
  • Teacher line-manager
  • Integral part of HEC, Harlow wide partnership of schools

Research Expertise: 

Engagement with research evidence and implementation in own academy. Supporting other schools within the Harlow Partnership through role as improvement champion.


My name is Lacey Davies, I am currently the Deputy Headteacher at Pear Tree Mead Primary, in Harlow, Essex, and have had many years of leadership experience. We are a relatively large, single converter academy. My responsibilities currently include disadvantaged lead, assessment lead, behaviour lead and teacher line-manager, which you can imagine comes with both its rewards and challenges. Since I have taken on these roles, I have influenced many whole school improvements, through a clear and concise process of implementation, using research as a basis for any-and-all decisions, enabling the biggest impact. Within my leadership role, I have had many opportunities to work within our HET partnership schools, sharing good practice across, and affecting change in other settings as an improvement champion.  

My experience in school has led me to becoming an ELE as I truly value evidence led practice and how this can support schools in their identification of need, decision-making and execution. I have seen, first-hand, the benefits of this approach. I have developed our teaching and learning community within school, focusing on the Educational Endowment Foundation (EEF) teaching and learning toolkit, using outlined approaches, inspiring other teachers and professionals to adopt the same, thus creating the appropriate culture susceptible to new strategies. I am in a good position within school to see the extent of which correctly implemented research-based approaches can impact on data and assessment, pastoral and academic. I am passionate about whole school improvement, the effectiveness of teaching and learning as well as professional development. I believe in working collaboratively with colleagues as it is integral when driving change which results in even better outcomes for our pupils.  

I am overjoyed to now be a part of the ELE team and the opportunity to enhance my own professional development as well as add value to others.  



 Name: Gabrielle Deed
 Role: SENCo KS2 Teacher
 School: Lyons Hall Primary School
 Local Authority District: Braintree

About Gabrielle Deed

Leadership Experience: I have been a member of Lyons Hall Primary School Senior Leadership Team for seven years. I organise Teaching and Learning training courses and support senior leaders and teachers from other schools to develop teaching and learning in their own setting. 

Research Expertise: Through completing my SENCo Qualification, I have used evidence from the EEF to support my research project I have conducted. I have worked alongside outside agencies to help them to deliver their research projects and used current research practices in my own teaching and brought this into teaching and learning courses I have written and delivered to schools.


During my time at Lyons Hall Primary School I have enjoyed being part of the school’s journey, from a school causing concern to an outstanding school. I am most interested in developing teaching and learning and I am always scanning the horizon to look for ways to improve practice and learning outcomes for the children.

Over the years, I have had many opportunities to develop my own practice and support other schools. These roles have included, Leading ICT Teacher, Strategy Support Teacher, Advance Skills Teacher, Specialist Leader in Education and a Literacy Consultant. I am an accredited OLEVI facilitator and coach. Working with other members of our school, I have enjoyed tailoring and delivering the Creative and Outstanding Teacher Programmes. We always make sure that proven research strategies such as John Hattie’s research fundamentals are at the heart of the programmes. It has been a complete privilege to not only support improvements in my school but also to help many teachers and leaders develop their practice across the county and beyond. 

One of the research projects, I was fortunate to be involved with, was the scaffolding learning for independence for pupils with autism project in conjunction with the Autism Specialist Teacher team, Paula Bosanquet and the University of East London. From taking part in this research project, not only did our senior leadership team look at the way we supported children with Autism develop their independence but all pupils. Using the scaffolding independence model cited on the Education Endowment Foundation website teachers and LSAs worked together to change their practice to develop children’s independence. We changed our feedback marking and developed the children’s understanding of the importance of being independent with their learning, and they can now reflect upon the amount of support they had in a lesson to help them to give an accurate feedback 5. From taking part in the project independence can be seen in all of our learners in our school, helping them to deepen their learning and take greater ownership over it.

I am excited to take on the role as an ELE to be able to develop an expertise in evidenced-based learning and work with a range of schools to share ways to improve children’s learning.



Name: Sophie Denyer
Role: Deputy Headteacher
School: Springfield Primary School
Local Authority District: Chelmsford

About Sophie Denyer

Leadership Experience: Lead mentor for SCITT, PPG coordinator, English subject leader, Behaviour leader, Assessment lead, Vice Chair of the CTSA Deputy Headteachers network.

Research Expertise: Member of the chartered college; Masters degree in Educational Leadership and Management, coordinated programmes of lesson study with groups of teachers, trialled and implemented coaching programmes in two school settings.


I have been the Deputy Headteacher at Springfield Primary School for three years, a role which includes mentoring trainee teachers and NQTs, leading various areas such as the Pupil Premium Grant, English, behaviour management, assessment and, most recently, the Covid-19 Catch Funding Premium. The most important part of my role is leading the professional development programme for our staff at all levels.

My professional ethos is centred on schools becoming learning organisations, on the forefront of teacher-led innovation that is driven from the plethora of expertise within. As such my approach to school improvement has always been to work collaboratively with staff, developing a culture inquiry, exploration and professional reflexivity. I have designed, facilitated and implemented professional coaching programmes in two school settings where rapid school improvement was required and seen first-hand the scale of the positive impact this approach can have on individual practitioners, school culture as a whole and the teaching and learning outcomes as a result.

My main area of interest and expertise lies in supporting teachers to engage in research in the classroom and drive improvement from the ground up. I have facilitated lesson study research projects, led by teachers, to drive school improvement priorities, through which we have successfully transformed our approach to teaching and learning in various areas. The use of evidence informed practice has become a staple element of our school culture as we strive to provide the best educational experience for our pupils.

I am passionate about developing an educational landscape where teachers and leaders work collaboratively to evolve and develop continuously, so I am delighted to be part of this network of ELEs where I can be at the grassroots of moving towards a more evidence informed approach to school improvement.



Caroline Dolby Name: Caroline Dolby
Role: Assistant Headteacher
School: Katherine Semar Schools
Local Authority District: Uttlesford

About Caroline Dolby

Leadership Experience:

As an experienced senior leader, my current role in school includes leading English, Early Years and staff well-being. Recently, I have been appointed Early Years lead for the Saffron Academy Trust and am about to embark on a National College of Education instructional coaching apprenticeship.

I have been fortunate to lead a range of projects and professional development opportunities and have seen the impact of using research informed approaches to drive improvements both at a class and whole school level; a drive to improve the systemic teaching of phonics in a local school saw an increase of 30% in terms of children reaching the expected standard in the Y1 phonics screening check.

Research Expertise:

My areas of expertise and research interest are in the early years and KS1 curriculum, oracy, reading (including phonics) and early maths. I work with the Venn Maths Hub and am excited to be supporting them in the delivery of the new Mastering Numbers initiative. At school level, I am currently leading our involvement with an EEF funded project into the impact of NELI (Nuffield Early Language Intervention) and have participated in UCL’s SWERL (Supporting Well-being and Emotional Resilience and Learning) project.


I am also interested in supporting early career teachers and have successfully worked with colleagues to deliver both a Developing Effective Teachers and Developing Outstanding Teachers programme.

I have a passion for working collaboratively with colleagues to support school led improvement and enhance the life chances and outcomes for all children. I am committed to helping schools find ways to make research easy to understand and consider how to apply it effectively to their context.

I am delighted to have been accredited as an ELE as I regard this as a fantastic opportunity to enrich my own professional development as well as providing a wonderful opportunity to support my own and other schools in further developing an evidence-based approach to education.



 Name: Susan Marbe
 Role: SCITT director/Teaching and Learning lead EFSPT
 School: Epping Forest Schools Partnership Trust
 Local Authority District: Epping Forest

About Susan Marbe

Leadership Experience: 11 years Deputy HT, 2 years Teaching School Director, 8 years SCITT Director

Research Expertise: member of the Chartered College of Teaching; member of NASBTT; NPQH; association with NACE, EEF, EDT, NAHT 


I have always held a vision for outstanding teaching and learning within the schools that I am based, with a strong focus on evidence informed practise, more recently focusing on the Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit and Guidance Reports. I have continually sought to improve outcomes for pupils, achieved through engaging fully with evidence-informed school improvement and system leadership.

I have a strong background in a variety of whole school improvement projects both at Trust level and beyond.

I have been fortunate to previously set up and lead our Teaching School for a number of years and have a passion for school led improvement, working with other schools and stakeholders through system leadership in order to mobilise innovation and action. This led to me being able to set up a successful SCITT.

Leading on many aspects of the ITE curriculum, I have been able to see the impact that quality, evidence based training has on classroom practice. I have been able to measure the impact on outcomes for the trainees and early Career Teachers and change the mindsets of TEs/mentors when it comes to evidence based practice.

My engagement and background in research including ‘What makes great teaching?’ The Science of Learning, Principles of Instruction and the EEF to name but a few, as well as years of experience leading AfL, Metacognition/Memory and Behaviour4Learning has enabled me to create a bespoke programme that has had an outstanding impact on schools and teachers.

I create and deliver Teacher Educator training & Coaching to Improve Performance training programmes which are continually evolving, and I work with Education Development Trust to develop and deliver the Early Career Framework programme to early career teachers and mentors.

I am excited by the ELE role; helping schools to be accountable for ensuring engagement with up to date/pertinent research and evidence-informed practice – something historically seen as an ‘add on’ in the primary classroom.



 Name: Katie Naylor
 Role: Lead Teaching and Learning Coach
 School: Saffron Walden County High School
 Local Authority District: Uttlesford

About Katie Naylor

Leadership Experience: Middle Leadership

Research Expertise: Member of the Chartered College of Teaching; ILM Coaching and Mentoring Qualification (level 5); ILM Coaching Supervision (level 7); member of Association of Coaching; NPQSL; Early Career Framework Facilitator for Educational Development Trust; Advanced Skills Teacher; Specialist Leader of Education


I am Lead Teaching and Learning Coach at Saffron Walden County High School, a large 11-18 secondary school in Northwest Essex. My responsibilities include strategically guiding coaching, both facilitative and instructional, across the school and trust with the aim of maintaining high quality teaching and learning. I am a Professional Coach and Supervisor (Institute Leadership Management ILM) which enables me to train and develop internal teacher coaches and support schools to implement and sustain a successful coaching culture.

As a reflective practitioner, I am committed to research, development, and the impact it can have on everyday teaching. In my role as an Advanced Skills Teacher and Specialist Leader of Education I have made a significant contribution to the strategic planning and the delivery of the CPD programme in my own school and schools in the Saffron Academy Trust. The structure for all the staff training I have led over the years is to provide colleagues with the evidenced based ideas and tools to improve the quality of teaching and learning in their classroom.

My role as a Senior Tutor for the Cambridge Teaching Schools Network SCITT and as an Early Career Framework Facilitator is to summarise and share with mentors, ITTs and ECTs robust educational research and discuss its application in the classroom. This encourages early career teachers (and mentors) to engage with the research of others and reflect on their own practice.

I am excited to have been accredited as an ELE as I believe it will great opportunity to enhance my expertise in research and be part of a more evidenced informed approach to education. I am really looking forward to collaborating with colleagues in local schools and sharing best evidence-based practice with the aim of improving children’s educational opportunities and outcomes.



Name: Vanessa Sullivan
Role: Deputy Headteacher
School: St Peter's Church Of England Primary School
Local Authority District: Braintree

About Vanessa Sullivan

Leadership Experience: SLT at a Tendring school before joining St Peter’s as Deputy Head; former member of Tendring SCITT (as once known) Management Board.

Research Expertise: My particular academic interests are vocabulary and language development, reading comprehension, memory and meta-cognition and the general role of neuropsychology in pedagogy and emotional development.


As well as being Deputy Head, I also teach Year 5/6 and am the Disadvantaged Champion in my school. I have worked in a variety of settings in Essex, across KS1 and KS2. Having taught for over 22 years, I am delighted to see that the value of Research Informed Practice is now being given greater prominence (especially in the Ofsted EIF) and its value in education is becoming better understood.

Although I have worked in leadership for some time now, I have not lost my passion for classroom teaching and think this gives me an essential layer of empathy for other practitioners and gives me the chance to explore innovations (and their effects) first hand.

I am looking forward to having the opportunity to work with peers on new projects and supporting others, in spreading the research findings that will help benefit all of us.