“These project reports represent fascinating insights on activities undertaken in one school, accompanied by academic reflection on the context, literature, policies and guidance which can empower other members to apply them in their own setting.”

Despite the many challenges of leading education during a global pandemic, EIS members have continued to advance knowledge within the profession. The EIS Action Research Grants scheme is a key way in which the EIS supports members individually to enquire and innovate, while also equipping the Institute and the wider profession with new insights about teaching practice.

Each year the EIS Action Research Grants scheme supports a cohort of members, with a financial grant, academic guidance and peer support, to undertake a project of practitioner enquiry on a topic of their choosing, usually within the academic year.

EIS members have full access to Action Research Grant project reports via the EIS website, including a new batch of published reports from the 2020 – 21 cohort of researchers. Education professionals across all sectors will find data and rich investigative findings, generated by fellow teachers and lecturers, which speak to their own experiences or professional learning needs.

The EIS Action Research Grants scheme offers members an opportunity to understand and address urgent or longstanding issues through practitioner enquiry. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has included EIS researchers getting to grips with specific challenges brought about by the pandemic and associated lockdowns, such as moving to remote learning, understanding young people’s health and wellbeing during a period of upheaval, and promoting children’s resilience for education recovery.

Project reports of this kind from the most recent cohort include studies investigating the educational experiences of FE students with ASD during COVID-19, the effects of outdoor learning on a P2 class’s social development during the pandemic, and the impact of COVID-19 on the reading behaviours and experiences of adolescents.

Other researchers in 2021 engaged with topics related to a specialist area of responsibility or interest, often using action research as a model to experiment with new ways to lead learning and enact teacher empowerment. New project reports of this kind include a case study of one member’s use of participatory budgeting methods to include the wider school community in decisions about PEF funding, and a detailed practical comparison of adult-led and child-initiated learning in a primary one classroom. These project reports represent fascinating insights on activities undertaken in one school, accompanied by academic reflection on the context, literature, policies and guidance which can empower other members to apply them in their own setting.

Reflecting on her completed project, Katie Bell of Dumfries and Galloway Local Association said, “Action Research has been an essential tool for our schools to be able to achieve our school improvement priority of promoting play in upper primary. Due to the lack of supporting literature around the benefits of play in upper primary, we invested in resources, CLPL and practitioner time to engage with this. It has facilitated an excellent start to this journey and practitioners across the partnership have reported an increase in teacher confidence when justifying their approaches. We have extended this priority into the new session and we have been lucky enough to be supported by an Action Research Grant again to continue professional learning.”

EIS Education Committee Convenor Susan Quinn congratulated EIS action researchers, saying, “The 2020-2021 cohort of EIS Action Researchers have been remarkable in completing extended projects during the disruption of COVID-19. They have dedicated substantial effort making practical and evidence-led adaptations to their own teaching, despite or in response to some of the most challenging working conditions that teachers have faced in recent years.”

EIS Assistant Secretary Andrea Bradley said, “Members are encouraged to engage with the published research reports and additional materials where they have an interest in the topics for their own professional learning. The research from the 2020-21 cohort will especially be of use to members as they continue to work on Education Recovery in their own setting, and as the EIS focus on health and wellbeing and teacher empowerment.”

EIS members can access the Action Research Grants project reports mentioned above, alongside all project reports from previous years, on the EIS website. Members who are interested in pursuing their own research project will also be able to register interest for the 2022-23 Action Research Grants scheme, with details available on the EIS website and via e-bulletins.