EDLM – Scottish Government seminar series

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The NSEE team presented its findings from year one of the Every Dundee Learner Matters (EDLM) project as part of a series of Scottish Government organised seminars on Tuesday 26 July.

The seminar for policy makers and those working in education looked at the lessons learned from growing a local authority wide initiative. EDLM is a three year local authority education strategy, informed and supported by researchers. 

Co-developed by Dundee City Council, a stakeholder group of experienced head teachers and Professors Chris Chapman and Mel Ainscow from the University of Glasgow, it focuses on improving equity and quality of education for all children and young people.

Enquiry stance

EDLM involves promoting an “enquiry stance” among learning communities and uses data and evidence to inform improvement planning and actions. A collaborative action research (CAR) framework is used to create and evaluate enquiry projects.

EDLM aims to improve pupil presence, participation and progress across the Dundee area and is a place-based approach that adapts to the needs of pupils and professionals in different educational settings, with the local authority and the university researchers offering training and one-to-one support, rather than leading the project. 

The educational establishments were split into several school improvement partnerships, consisting of three to four schools/early years centres who meet regularly to discuss their progress. They are supported by the local authority’s education officers, educational psychologists and speech and language therapists. 

Wide experience

The NSEE team reflected that practitioners’ experiences of using enquiry methods prior to EDLM varied widely. Some practitioners had conducted enquiry projects as part of their post-graduate qualification, others learned about it at a later stage with some teachers having worked with educational psychologists and the University of Glasgow on previous school improvement activities, and those who had never used enquiry methods before.

This variation was mirrored in how confident practitioners were in using data or identifying trends in their data that could be used to identify gaps or need in practice in their EDLM CAR project..

As projects were led by schools, topics covered:

  • Reading and writing
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Attendance.

Enquiry questions

Enquiry questions ranged from, How can we embed a nurturing ethos for children and their families using the setting, to Can we improve numeracy attainment by providing an increased amount of small group and one-to-one support for our P1s and P2s?

All settings acknowledged the impact of COVID-19 on EDLM progress, on pupils’ experiences/outcomes, and on choice of enquiry focus. In addition, all sought to strengthen family connections that were weakened through COVID-19.

The NSEE team also reflected on initial feedback from practitioners at the end of the year. Practitioners reported:

  • An increased confidence in critiquing their data to inform learning approaches, and a greater knowledge of learners and their families
  • Greater awareness of appropriate methods to gather evidence to inform and assess change
  • An improved capacity for practitioners to lead on activities.

Reflecting on year one and what will happen in the second year of the project, University of Glasgow researchers acknowledge that it is important to build on the progress of the previous year and think of ways to help the EDLM enquiry projects progress and grow.

This might involve continuing the same project (if this was disrupted by COVID-19 and other factors), applying the project to different age groups, scaling up the project to whole class or school, applying the EDLM enquiry principles in different topic areas and working with other practitioners either within the same school or different schools to begin to work collaboratively on the same topic.





We are the Network for Social and Educational Equity, based in the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow. We work with governments, educational institutions, local authorities and teachers to promote educational change.

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About NSEE

The Network for Social and Educational Equity (NSEE) is part of the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change (ROC) at the University of Glasgow.

It works in collaboration with schools, local authorities, Education Scotland and partner services to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap in young people’s education.

NSEE helps schools to use appropriate evidence and data within collaborative working approaches to critically examine context and current arrangements, make changes based on evidence, monitor the impact of these changes and reflect on what they learn.

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