Students and staff of Linton Village College in Cambridge, as part of the schools’ commitment to research and development, are about to undertake a significant study into the foundations of outstanding teaching and learning supported by Research Director Robert Loe.

Relational Schools Project believes that the foundations of outstanding teaching and learning lie in the development of quality relationships between teachers and students. Evidence from those like Bergin and Bergin (2009) demonstrate that students who develop positive relationships with teachers achieve stronger academic outcomes. The better the relationship between a teacher and student, the better academically a student will perform.

But it is more than that; research tells us that students need to feel connected to school (Finn, 1993, 1997). Students who feel connected to school, and feel cared for by people at school, are happier (Resnick et al, 1997; Eccles 1997; Steinberg, 1996, McNeely et al, 2002) healthier as well as being students who achieve better academic outcomes (Resnick et al, 1997; Bond et al, 2001/4; Barclay and Doll, 2001; Doll and Hess, 2001; Smith 2006).

What is most striking about teachers identified by young people as “good” was that the qualities that mattered to students tended to be as much about how they were treated as how they were taught.


Linton Village College, like the Relational Schools Project, is interested in how improved relationships might lead to improvements in the classroom. Our teacher to student analysis enables us to understand the factors that underpin strong relationships in one context verses weaker relationships in the other. We seek to measure and understand that professional relationship in depth. Our tool enables us to assess the perceptions of the quality of relationship that exists. Previous research tells us this is the right thing to do.

Studies show us that perceptions of support are of central importance irrespective of whether these levels correspond to actual levels of support (Roeser et al, 2000). It is not support experiences themselves but the belief that teachers are “available” and “supportive” (Reddy, 2003). What we mean by this is if students feel supported then it is likely they are supported.

The results of the study are due to be published in September to coincide with the premier of the documentary made in partnership with Definition Media.

Get involved…

  1. Are you a school where the staff group, as a body, foregrounds the importance of nurturing positive relationships with young people?
  2. Do you know an outstanding teacher who is regarded as an individual with a gift for building relationships with students?
  3. As a practitioner, can you articulate the behaviours and approaches that lead to better relationships with young people?

We would like to hear from you:

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