26 May 2020

Inspiration for post-16 English teaching from practitioner research


This booklet showcases reports of 12 collaborative action research projects that have produced inspiring ideas for post-16 English teaching, and is available to download from the Excellence Gateway. 

The projects were commissioned for Phase 6 of the Outstanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment (OTLA)  programme, commissioned by the the Education and Training Foundation. 

The reports of the projects, which took place during the 2019–20 academic year, explain what participants wished to improve, how their action research took place and what they learnt. They include a diversity of voices and ideas intended to inspire practitioners to ask themselves how they can improve what is happening in their own institutions.

Themes that have emerged from the projects include the fundamental problems caused by low motivation and disengagement in learners who have repeated cycles of failure, the positive outcomes when these learners experience success as a result of their efforts, and the positive impact of teachers learning with colleagues from different subject backgrounds.

Amongst the projects were:

  • An exploration by South Devon College of how progressive marking strategies, including directed improvement and reflection time – used widely in school settings – could help learners raise their grades.
  • Work by City Lit with a neuroscientist to stimulate fresh insights into learners’ needs, which prompted fascinating reflections from established teachers.
  • The use of an online noticeboard called Padlet as a space to share books and reflections, leading to learners who had never before used the library services at Burton & South Derbyshire College becoming active members of it.
  • The use of insights from learners and staff to design usable web materials to improve the quality of learners’ academic writing at Kirklees College.
  • The exploration and adaptation of approaches using visualisers – for instance to annotate texts live in class – at Suffolk New College.

To view a summary of all the projects and a review of the OTLA English dissemination event held on the 26/2/2020, click here

To access the booklet on the Excellence Gateway, click here 


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