Building Capacity through Teacher Enquiry: The Scottish Schools of Ambition

Nov. 01, 2009

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Volume 35, Issue 4 November 2009, p. 409 - 424.

There has been much recent interest in collaboration and networking within and between schools to promote innovation, school improvement, and professional development.
This article starts with a brief review of the recent history of teacher research in the UK in order to consider how pre- and in-service teachers are currently positioned in relation to research.

The article draws on the case of the Scottish Schools of Ambition, a network of 52 schools receiving additional resource for targeted school improvement. It identifies some of the challenges and opportunities presented by sponsored research engagement. Tensions between evaluating and being supportive when engaged in an externally sponsored initiative with the specific goal of demonstrating school improvement are highlighted. The perception that any change in modes of working tends to be more visible in the institutional context of school rather than the university is also noted.

Based on the experience of this Scottish case and a review of current research into school-university partnerships, the authors argue that effective collaborations need to address questions of power to ensure mutual benefits, reciprocity, and a genuine coalition of interest amongst partners.
The article suggests that teacher educators may have an important contribution to make to building capacity through teacher enquiry given their position as mediators between schools and university faculties of education.

Updated: Nov. 10, 2009