Centre for Education & Social PolicyOur projects

Equitable teaching: policy into practice

Attainment and uptake in science remains low for identified ‘vulnerable’ groups of learners, including those from the lowest SIMD backgrounds, those with additional support needs, certain ethnic minorities and young women entering certain physical sciences.

Science qualifications offer good opportunities for future employment and education and understanding why these groups decide that ‘science is not for them’ is important. This co-production project between university academics and science teachers explores the experiences of students aged 12-14 in science lessons and the kinds of changes to science lessons that could widen the range and numbers of pupils who decide ‘science is for them’.

A key area of the work is to challenge the common assumption that ‘science is hard’ (so we simplify it) and determine how to retain the challenge but increase the opportunities for empowered engagement with the subject matter.

This project aims to raise literacy attainment and narrow the attainment gap of primary school pupils in Clackmannanshire by exploring and attending to the social, emotional and intellectual environments of classrooms, the teacher knowledge that delivers responsive teaching, and the curriculum mix required for all pupils to develop strong reader identities, skills and knowledge.


Dive into Writing is a literacy intervention and research project developed in partnership with Renfrewshire Council. It ran from September 2017 to August 2019 and involved co-production with Renfrewshire’s primary schools to develop a responsive, inclusive writing curriculum that focuses on creating self-motivated, engaged writers.

It demonstrates a place-based, ‘grounded practice’ model of development that embraces writing and learning to write, as a socio-cultural and personal practice as well as a cognitive one.

This report describes the highly successful Renfrewshire Literacy Approach, a co-production project designed to both raise general literacy attainment and to narrow the attainment gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged children.

The project involved 650 primary teachers responsible for the education of 13,000 children and resulted from a partnership between Renfrewshire Council and Strathclyde University, prompted by the recommendations of the Renfrewshire Tackling Poverty Commission.

The outcomes demonstrated statistically significant increases in attainment across all income groups, a shortened tail of underachievement and a narrowed gap in the attainment of children from families claiming uniform allowance and those who did not.

School and community systems, people and policies

This project researches the work of classroom assistants to identify the systemic issues at national, council, school and class level that make the work of classroom assistants effective.

The research focuses on understanding the motivations, work contexts, knowledge and aspirations of Classroom Assistants to inform policy developments. As a group, Scottish Classroom Assistants are under-researched, their work is often under-valued and their voices are often unheard.

The project generates prototype ways of working, work allocation, professional advancement recommendations and course designs.

The project explored the roles of volunteers in two village primary schools, capturing their motivations, aspirations and skills of grandparent, parent and non-parent volunteers as well as the schools’ perspectives.  The project identified the range of volunteer opportunities, recruitment of volunteers, the value of parental and family involvement, the role of the school within the community, and the impact of volunteering on the lives of pupils and parents.

It identified policy issues for the school and local authority, including how volunteers are currently recruited and supported and the importance of maintaining a balance of expectation and support amongst professionals and volunteers for these key roles, which depend so strongly on goodwill, to thrive.

This project documented pupil experiences of the transition between primary and secondary school in one district. Researchers worked with a group of newly arrived Secondary 1 pupils to gather student feedback on how the process felt for them, and their views on how it could be improved.

These were triangulated with the experiences and understandings of the transition systems and the knowledge-flows described by promoted and un-promoted school and district staff.

This ongoing research and development project is working in partnership with Education Services in Clackmannanshire Council. It aims to explore the ways in which local people, schools and third sector organisations can work together to deliver change and challenge different dimensions of inequality. The work is focused on supporting communities to develop effective interventions within a broader narrative of change.

The Intergenerational Mentoring Network is a research and development project that seeks to evolve research informed interventions at community level that can address inequality in education. It is a Social Enterprise (Community Interest Company) developed by researchers in the School of Education working closely with local schools, third sector organisations and community groups. IMN currently leads on providing one to one mentoring for young people from working class and poor backgrounds seeking to enter higher education. The success of this programme has led to a further intergenerational initiative the 'Help a child learn to read' project which similarly draws on volunteers, usually retirees to support young children in their literacy development.

This research and development project has been funded by Scottish Government and developed by three partners: the Centre for Education & Social Policy, School of Education, University of Strathclyde, Barnardo's Scotland and the Intergenerational Mentoring Network (IMN). It draws on our collective knowledge and experience of delivering literacy support to primary school children and of supporting families to propose a new way of engaging with parents living in communities suffering social and economic deprivation. Based around improving literacy of primary school children it will develop and support new ways of engaging with parents. A research and development process will frame this and capture learning that will be made available to support similar work in other communities and schools nationally. This project intends to develop a community orientated approach that works in partnership with the third sector, parents and schools to try and achieve change.

Inclusion policy and practice

This project involves Scottish Government and Strathclyde University, with Scottish Autism and Education Scotland reviewing and redesigning The Autism Toolbox, an interactive resource used by schools across Scotland that was based on original research at Strathclyde.

Visit The Autism Toolbox website

This 'policy into practice' research study is a collaborative partnership between Scottish Government, Strathclyde University and Scottish Autism to develop training and approval systems for Autism training and evaluate their impact.

An exploratory project to promote wellbeing and reduce trauma-related experiences in young autistic people. This project explores the impact of the award winning EFGT in promoting positive mental health in autistic youth and adults. 

It is a collaborative project with the multi award winning HOPE for Autism and Scottish Autism to promote positive mental health in North Lanarkshire. Participatory research is an integral part of this project, with future knowledge exchange impact events planned across North Lanarkshire to engage with Mental Health practitioners. This project aims to respond to the mental health crisis currently experienced in autistic adults and will report findings to the Scottish Government.

Read about the BACP award

This joint project with the University of Glasgow is funded by Enable Scotland, Scottish Government and the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund. It draws on research to develop anti-bullying resources and interventions to help promote the understanding and acceptance of people with learning disabilities. 

The work has developed a we-based resource consisting of a series of 5 lessons for S1 and S2 pupils:

  • To help them understand and value difference
  • To let them know what life is like for people with learning disabilities
  • To show them what it feels like to be bullied just because you have a learning disability
  • To explore opportunities for increased contact between young people with and without learning disabilities

The lessons are the end product of a research & development project to provide school based resources aimed at tackling the bullying of people with learning disabilities.