The Power o Practitioner Research

The following article was written for the Research Further initiative; a collaboration between the Association of Colleges and NCFE to support, drive and encourage college-centred research that can help influence policy and practice. You can find more about the initiative here.

Engagin wi research as a further education practitioner has been, an continues tae be, a transformative experience.

In spite o the prevailin economic an educational challenges o recent years, delvin intae research has rekindled ma love fur education an fired up ma passion fur oor sector. Research boasts a depth tae discourse that social media disnae hae. Through ma interactions wi fiercely hopeful researchers an educators, I hae come tae realise wi profound gratitude that the authoritarian values often publicly championed by prominent figures arenae as common as social media platforms might hae us believe.

Anither enrichin benefit has been the expansion o ma network, o baith knowledge an kindness. By connectin wi researchers an fellow educators, I hae been inspired by deeply diverse perspectives an their unwaverin commitment tae positive change. I recognise ma privilege in bein granted access tae a seemingly limitless wealth o powerful knowledge, an the impact on ma thinkin an teachin has been profound. Through these fiercely human connections, I hae marveled at educators as experts, an engaged in critical dialogue within ideas sae rich that I am often compelled tae seek quiet spaces simply tae process them.

Engagin in research within the further education sector continues tae feel like an important act o resistance. It is disheartenin tae witness the damagin neglect that plagues the educational research landscape when it comes tae further education, an sae I hae been inspired tae actively involve as mony colleagues as possible. I hae launched a Research Development Group in ma current workplace; invitin guest speakers fae the network mentioned above, wi the singular aim o enablin colleagues tae utilise the shared knowledge tae explore innovative teachin methods an reflect on their practices. By fosterin a culture o research an inquiry, we regain power ower the education that we provide an recognise further education teachers as valuable professionals.

Ma ain doctoral research has extended beyond the boundaries o ma workplace. I hae been empowered an emboldened by the support o the Research Further an FE research communities tae conduct ma research on a national level, aimin tae fill the chasmous gaps in baith research an policy in creatin spaces o belonging for poverty-experienced learners in oor sector. By conductin research externally, I hae developed a far broader understanding o unique challenges faced by further education institutions, an use these insights tae advocate for their recognition an support within the broader educational landscape.

Engagin in research as a further education practitioner hasnae only enriched ma practice, an bolstered ma understanding o education policy an philosophy, but has deepened ma appreciation for the resilience an dedication o ma colleagues in this sector. It has given me a renewed sense o purpose an commitment tae promotin the values o inclusivity, equity, an student-centered learnin upon which oor invaluable sector is crafted.

We in further education ken intrinsically o its importance. We see it every day through countless narratives that become entwined wi oor ain. Engagin in research allows us tae provide evidence o sic transformative stories tae the wider education community an policymakers. We pour huge amounts o oorsels into oor work willingly an bravely. Research conducted vigorously within further education, rather than minimally upon, ensures that we investin oorsels into a sector that no only recognises oor knowledge systems an specialist expertise, but is continually an actively crafted by it.

The views expressed in Think Further publications do not necessarily reflect those of AoC or NCFE.