Building capacity through teacher enquiry: the Scottish Schools of Ambition

Moira Hulme, Vivienne Baumfield, Fran Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


There has been much recent interest in collaboration and networking within and
between schools to promote innovation, school improvement, and professional
development. This paper starts with a brief review of the recent history of teacher research in the UK in order to consider how pre- and in-service teachers arecurrently positioned in relation to research. Drawing on the case of the Scottish Schools of Ambition, a network of 52 schools receiving additional resource for targeted school improvement, the paper identifies some of the challenges and opportunities presented by sponsored research engagement. Tensions between evaluating and being supportive when engaged in an externally sponsored initiative with the specific goal of demonstrating school improvement are highlighted. The perception that any change in modes of working tends to be more visible in the institutional context of school rather than the university is also noted. Based on the experience of this Scottish case and a review of current research into school–university partnerships, we argue that effective collaborations need to address questions of power to ensure mutual benefits, reciprocity, and a genuine coalition of interest amongst partners. The paper suggests that teacher educators may have an important contribution to make to building capacity through teacher enquiry given their position as mediators between schools and university faculties of education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-424
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Education for Teaching
Volume 35
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2009


  • practitioner enquiry
  • school–university collaboration
  • professional development


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