This is an exciting and unique opportunity to be part of an ambitious new programme of research that will strive to make a difference to education in the UK.
This opportunity aims to fund research projects that will collectively build new interdisciplinary research capacity in education, around two interrelated priority themes:
- teaching and learning, focusing on the role of teachers, their training, supply and retention
- the uses of technology in teaching and learning.
Your project must:
- address one or both of these priority themes in the context of compulsory education, within one or more of the UK’s four nations and jurisdictions
- build partnerships with stakeholders to bridge boundaries between research, policy and practice.
The projects will form a new education research programme, led by Professor Gemma Moss, the Programme Director. Professor Moss was the successful applicant following ESRC’s call for a research director in 2021.
The programme will address key challenges in policy and practice in different parts of the UK.
Projects will make a significant scientific contribution by strengthening the evidence base underpinning research-informed practice in education, leading to improvements in professional and policymaker knowledge.
By developing a more robust understanding of the factors affecting the quality of teaching and learning, project outcomes are intended to have positive impacts on the lives of children and their families over the long term.
To contribute to the broader programme, projects are expected to:
- involve joint working with practitioners, policymakers and other stakeholders to bridge boundaries between research, policy and practice in new ways
- consider various aspects of local, regional and national contexts that help determine what works, for whom, in what circumstances and why
- address issues in policy and practice that are relevant to the devolved nature of primary and secondary education in the UK and the different priorities of the four nations and jurisdictions of the UK.
Projects must be social science-led and at least 50% within ESRC’s remit.
Successful projects must start on 1 December 2022.
ESRC welcomes any methodological approach, whether quantitative, qualitative or mixed method in nature. We also encourage the use of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches.
The sections that follow provide further clarification on the scope and remit of this funding opportunity.
Indicative research topics
Potential areas of research may include, but are not limited to:
- the local and national factors driving teacher supply, retention and mobility in the four nations and jurisdictions of the UK
- preparing teachers with the lifelong knowledge and skills to meet the challenges of teaching in diverse contexts
- the contribution made by different forms of initial teacher education, continuing professional development and research co-partnerships to professional knowledge and the exercise of professional judgement
- teaching in response to community challenges, for example in contexts that are high poverty, rural or remote, high unemployment, high diversity or marginalised
- connecting what works with what matters: teachers’ roles in agenda setting for research and knowledge co-production
- preparing for teaching in a digitally connected world
- digital inequalities, their impacts on pupils and ways to mitigate them
- ethical and professional questions posed by ‘big data’ and technology in education
- teaching for digital citizenship
- pedagogies and technologies that make a difference in practice
- practitioner, pupil and family perspectives on the switch to using digital technologies to support learning during COVID-19, and any implications longer term.
The above are examples of research topics that could be pursued within the two interrelated priority themes. Some applicants may wish to situate their proposal within one or more of these research topics. Others may wish to suggest new areas or topics within the two broad priority themes.
Proposals should explain how the research relates to one or both priority themes. They must clearly identify the project’s original contribution to the existing evidence base and its relevance to policy or practice in the light of the programme’s broader aims.
ESRC welcomes projects of varying scope and scale that can demonstrate a direct contribution to the aims of the programme.
Recognising the devolved education systems in the UK
There are important differences between the education systems of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
We welcome projects that will undertake comparative research across the four UK nations and jurisdictions on issues of wide relevance. Equally, we welcome projects that will focus on relevant regional differences within England or one of the devolved administrations (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).
All proposals should explain how their research relates to one or more of the four UK nations and jurisdictions, their research needs, and policy and practice challenges.
Developing partnerships between research, policy and practice
The projects that we fund should have a strong emphasis on finding new ways of working collaboratively with practitioners, policymakers and other stakeholders. These should be appropriate in scope and scale to the project’s research questions and design.
Proposals should specify why the partnerships they seek to develop are appropriate to the aims and objectives of the project.
They should explain how they will develop and nurture these partnerships during the lifecycle of the project by considering factors that may constrain or enable partnership working, and the resources they will need to dedicate to this.
Working collaboratively as part of the research programme
Successful applicants will be expected to work collaboratively with other grant holders and share knowledge, including perspectives on issues that arise from partnership working over the length of the programme.
This collective discussion will be used to develop new approaches to research-informed practice within the education field.
The research director will organise a series of seminars and workshops throughout the programme to support collaboration and coordination. Programme-level activities will be largely funded from the director’s budget.
However, individual project teams should also allocate additional resources to support their participation in programme-level events and to enable collaborative activities with other grant holders in the programme.
Applicants should specify how they plan to work collaboratively as part of the programme, and the resources and mechanisms they will put in place to ensure this.
Ineligible costs and activity
We will not fund:
- projects that do not focus predominantly on issues relevant to the UK
- proposals that are deemed to be less than 50% social science
- PhD studentships.