Practitioner Enquiry

Are you interested in carrying out a research project or collaborating on one?  Leading research organisations have identified that in order for research to be highly effective it should be collaborative.  This is the starting point that The Sixth Form College takes for its Practitioner Enquiry projects.  Focussing primarily on areas for development highlighted by individual departments, subject tutors engage in small-scale research, investigating how learning and teaching in these areas can be developed.  Ideally, teaching across the college will then be informed by the results of these projects.


Practitioner Enquiry is essentially practical in its approach to research, often collaborative, with the majority of work being completed in the classroom whilst teaching.  It is centred on the teacher, with the emphasis being upon making changes in your everyday teaching to benefit your students, with a clear idea of how to measure the benefit.  Evidence of this success can then be shared across the college.


The Sixth Form College is one of only a handful of institutions nationally to hold the distinction of being ‘research-engaged’ and was the first in the country to receive the designation.  It has also embarked on a relationship with CUREE, an internationally-acknowledged centre of expertise in evidence-based practice in education, and with the NfER Young Researchers Project.


Broadly speaking, the aims of Practitioner Enquiry are:

  • to encourage reflective practice and develop as a teacher/educator
  • to test out ideas systematically in the classroom to see if they really work
  • to put some of the college initiatives into action in your professional context
  • to encourage the dissemination of good practice in teaching for learning
  • to improve students' achievements


The projects themselves are usually small in scale (often conducted in one or two classes over the year) and written up in a format that is professional rather than purely academic.  Results of the project can then be presented to staff, for example, in Voice, and at June’s Dissemination Day.  The college is looking for research projects of a high standard with the potential for submission to research journals.  Many teachers have already published their findings in national journals. Details of current and past projects can be accessed elsewhere on this website.  As well as encouraging collaboration between staff and departments, we are looking to share good practice with other research-engaged colleges.


Becky Barnes, the College’s Practitioner Enquiry Co-ordinator, is currently on maternity leave.  In the interim, if you are interested in engaging in Practitioner Enquiry, or have ideas about a project that could be carried out, email Chris Reid at