Middle School Research


Welcome to my middle school research home page

I am a part-time PhD student at the University of Nottingham carrying out research into the differences between the three-tier schooling system (that is, a schooling structure which involves first schools for children aged 5-9, then middle schools for ages 9-13 followed by upper or high schools for ages 13-16 or 18) and the more common two-tier system comprising primary schools up to age 11 (or separate infant and junior schools) then secondary schools for ages 11-16 or 18. There are other versions of the three-tier system in operation in England (e.g. those involving 8-12 middle schools) but this research focuses solely on systems which have middle schools for ages 9-13.

My research began in January 2006 and will take around 5 years to complete. To view my research profile on the University of Nottingham website, please click here.

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Me outside my old middle school
March 2007

As a former middle school pupil I have had first hand experience of such schools, however, my experiences do not necessarily represent those of pupils in today's education system. For a start, there was no National Curriculum when I was at middle school and so no Key Stages and their associated tests, we were never inspected by OfSTED and there were no publicly available school performance tables. I plan to investigate whether the middle school is still viable today and how children's educational and social development may (or may not) be affected by the schooling system they attend. 

The research so far...

The working title for my research is: A comparative examination of the educational and social advantages and disadvantages of the 9-13 middle school in England

My fieldwork has involved headteachers, teachers, pupils and parents in Dorset.

The research involves comparing 9-13 middle schools with other school types such as the 11-16/18 comprehensive school to investigate whether there are any differences in outcomes between the different school types which might be attributable to the schooling structure, and to investigate elements of best practice which can be applied to middle years schooling more generally and which could have implications for education policy.

The research objectives are:


The fieldwork is being conducted within one local education authority area (Dorset County Council) in which both the two-tier and three-tier systems are in operation. The research adopts a mixed methods approach and involves the following:


What next?

The fieldwork has been completed and I am conducting the analysis, in addition my review of the literature continues. The headteachers' and teachers' questionnaire and the survey of parents and carers of children at Dorset schools have both been analysed and preliminary reports on the findings are available on the Research Findings page of this site.

Please contact me if you would like any further information about my research or if you would be interested in receiving copies of the findings of the research. If you would like to take part in the research there is an online survey available here.

Information on middle schools

To find out more about the middle school in England, including a brief history and details of how many middle schools there currently are, click here.

Previous middle school research

For more information on research I carried out as my MSc dissertation on the demise of the middle school in England, click here.

Thank you for looking at my website.

Kathy Seymour

PhD Researcher
School of Education
The University of Nottingham

Contact Me | ©2016 K. Seymour, Last updated: 15 Jul 2016