A Scottish Consortium of Higher and Further Education Institutions: Developing Collaboration through Critical Incidents

Aileen Ackland, Gary Roberts, Ann Swinney, David Wallace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


n the United Kingdom, partnership is increasingly a requirement of public sector funding. Such partnerships, formed strategically to win government contracts, can prove brittle; collaboration is often superficial. This chapter explores how a consortium of Scottish higher, further and adult education institutions, assembled expediently to respond to a contract arising from a Scottish Government strategy for adult literacies, nevertheless became genuinely collaborative. In the course of a six-year project to develop new professional qualifications for adult literacies tutors, a core group within the consortium developed a resilient affiliation able to lever advantage within individual institutions from its association. Its intentionality and readiness to transgress boundaries in the face of institutional obstacles were grounded in a shared pedagogical perspective. We examine how common understandings and shared objectives were forged in a series of critical incidents. The territorialism that often inhibits genuine collaboration was weakened in the face of the allegiances precipitated by these incidents. The virtual learning environment, as a shared boundary object, facilitated the negotiation of interinstitutional collaboration. We conclude that critical incidents and boundary objects can be planned into partnership working to build trust through exposure to risk and vulnerability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUniversity Partnerships for Pre-Service and Teacher Development
EditorsPatrick Blessinger, Barbara Cozza
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781787142640
ISBN (Print)9781787142657
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameInnovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (IHETL)
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
ISSN (Print)2055-3641

Bibliographical note

Treated as a book, series not included in green open access policy.


  • curriculum
  • institutional
  • partnership
  • pedagogy
  • practice
  • virtual learning environment


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