collaborative action research in educational settings

alphabetThe Network for Social and Educational Equity approach (NSEE) has had a significant impact on Scottish Education policy-making, on pedagogical practice in schools, and on student outcomes.

Policy influence:

As a result of the success of the SIPP approach in schools, the University of Glasgow’s 2014 report for Education Scotland argued for a regional approach to school improvement efforts through the establishment of ‘regional innovation hubs’.

Shortly after this publication, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland cited the report and called for the introduction of ‘improvement hubs’ across Scotland. This led to the establishment in 2016 of two pilot regional collaboratives, an initiative guided and evaluated by Professor Chris Chapman in his role as senior academic advisor.

Policy development culminated in the Scottish Government’s 2017 Education Governance: Next Steps report which called for the establishment of six regional improvement collaboratives (RICs), citing University of Glasgow research as part of its evidence

Regional improvement collaboratives are a new education governance structure that “bring local authorities together, alongside Education Scotland…to facilitate collaborative working across the region, developing different ways of working together to build excellence and equity in the Scottish education system”.

The RICs aim to demonstrate, strengthen and support collaborative working, innovation and sharing of best practice between schools and across the education system and follow the principles of SIPP and NSEE.

They are identified in the Next Steps report as ‘a key element in empowering our schools’ that will strengthen the support for education professionals to close the attainment gap.

As a member of the First Minister’s International Council of Education Advisors (ICEA), Chris Chapman co-authored the report on the implementation of reforms outlined in Delivering Excellence and Equity in Scottish Education: A Delivery Plan for Scotland, which was put directly to the First Minister.

The ICEA report recommend that the government work with and support RICs. It recommended the Scottish Government should: “Consider how further development and deepening of the implementation of its future approaches to educational improvement can be achieved by the collaborative approach that has achieved the progress to date, rather than pursuing a legislative approach.”

Practice change:

Since 2013, 107 school teams have worked and are continuing to work alongside one another to develop, implement and evaluate collaborative action research (CAR) projects using the SIPP model. This includes all of the schools in the West Regional Partnership of eight local authorities serving 35% of Scotland’s students.

The West Dunbartonshire local authority is an example of an education system which expanded its use of the SIPP model based on the success of projects to improve practice and student outcomes (below). Participation from four schools in the 2013-2014 expanded to a ‘collaborative action research’ work stream within the Scottish Attainment Challenge Plan in 2015, and the principles were adopted in the “Delivering Excellence and Equity – Improving Standards Though Collaboration” in 2017.

By 2018-2019, West Dunbartonshire had CAR projects involving nearly 250 practitioners.

Student outcomes

Participating schools report that he intervention of the SIPP model of collaborative action research has contributed to improvements in numeracy and writing over the project period.

West Dunbartonshire participating schools since 2015 show “a stable, high performance for P1 and S3 and a generally increasing performance for P4 and P7”, the latter of which were two groups of focus in the SIPP programme at its inception in the local authority.

West Dunbartonshire leadership also reported that, “since 2016 achievement in numeracy has increased by 14 % for P4 and 11 % for P7, while achievement in writing has increased by 9 % for P4 and 13 % for P7”; changes that leaders believe the work of SIPP/NSEE has contributed to

The Purpose

Our network’s purpose is to close the poverty related attainment gap by improving student outcomes in literacy, numeracy and health & wellbeing.  

We use research evidence, data approaches and collaborative working to improve classroom practices, build leadership capacity and support organisational development.  

NSEE builds on approaches with a track record of improving outcomes for disadvantages students.  The NSEE approach prioritises four key areas of work:

  1. Enhancing the quality of learning and teaching, leadership and working with families & communities
  2. Building leadership capacity to manage change and improvement at all levels
  3. Building expertise for the effective use of the Pupil Equity Fund and understanding about what works and why in closing the attainment gap
  4. Providing opportunities for sharing expertise and developing new practices both locally and nationally.

Collaborative Intervention

Learn more about how NSEE is a ‘collaborative intervention’ rather than a quick fix.

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