EIS action researchers disseminate their findings through a wide variety of publications and conferences, ensuring their projects impact teaching practice across the profession. With support from EIS Education Committee, 2022 Action Research Grant (ARG) recipient Suzy Aldous (East Dunbartonshire) attended the UK Literacy Association conference in Exeter to do just that. Here, Lucy reflects on her experience undertaking an ARG project, and taking her insights to a national platform.
In June I was able to represent EIS teacher-researchers at the UK Literacy Association’s International conference, where educators from around the globe gather to discuss innovations in literacy teaching. Having never attended a conference before, let alone presented at one, I was understandably nervous.
Having successfully applied for a 2023 EIS Action Research Grant, the English department at Douglas Academy in East Dunbartonshire had set forth on a mission to decolonise the BGE curriculum. The Action Research funding provided by the EIS allowed us to purchase novels that would reflect contemporary themes and amplify marginalised voices. We co-investigated with our pupils the best ways to teach these texts that would encourage them to talk and write about social justice issues. The feedback from working alongside the pupils was brilliant. They relished the opportunities we created to hear social justice stories from guest speakers and to take a young activist approach to their learning.
The EIS Action Research Grant process provides support for educators to take an enquiring stance in their learning spaces – no matter what stage of their career they are at. Regular meetings with fellow researchers and access to academic research through the MyGTCS research portal allowed me and colleague Lucy Baxter to develop strategies grounded in expert-informed practice.
We were inspired by the work of Paolo Freire to democratise our classroom space and foster critical thinking with our pupils. Our project gained much strength through teacher collaboration. Lucy’s experience of practitioner enquiry gave me confidence as an older teacher who came through probationary year pre-Donaldson Report.
I was very proud to represent our work at the UKLA conference – not only on behalf of the EIS but to represent the building momentum of anti-racism education across Scotland. On the Saturday evening of the conference, the rich work of social justice education in Scotland was acknowledged as Park Mains High School and Scottish Book Trust’s Melanie Ramdarshan Bold swept the board as winners of the Brenda Eastwood Diversity and Inclusion award, with our own project winning highly commended.
Professional learning development as a teacher often comes in fits and bursts rather than a gentle curve of improvement. The EIS Action Grant encouraged me to have the courage to step out of my comfort zone and try something new that would help my pupils. I am now continuing my learning as I move to a position as a Teaching Standards Education Officer at the General Teaching Council, where I hope to support my fellow teachers to become and grow as trusted professionals in Scotland.
Suzy’s final research project, along with other reports and member research, will be available on the EIS website.