Schools-based Educational Research Group (S-BERG)
The School-based Educational Research Group (S-BERG) is the largest grouping of researchers in the Centre for Research in Education (CRE) within the Division of Education. Research in this area is grounded in early years, primary and secondary school settings and spans a range of specialist areas including: art and drama, inclusivity, languages, maths and science, as well as policy analysis. S-BERG has a multi-dimensional approach to its activities, aiming to help produce and share research that will inform future practice in early years, primary and secondary schools both nationally and internationally, as well as helping to guide the development of responsive and efficacious policy in Scotland.
S-BERG was founded in late 2015. From a management perspective, S-BERG has the follwing overarching aims
- To promote schools-based educational research and professional inquiry nationally and internationally;
- to help mentor early-career and research-inactive members to achieve ‘first steps’ in research (e.g. acquiring external funding, achieving publication); and
- To more effectively advertise the impact of the work by its research-active members nationally and internationally.
Most of the researchers affiliated with S-BERG have professional experience working in the early years and/or schools sector, and these experiences help to ensure the research that is produced by the group is in the best position to inform contemporary policy and practice to the benefit of child development.
Work by our by S-BERG researchers often is conducted in close collaboration with partners beyond academia. For example, Diarmuid McAuliffe and Dr. Andrew Killen are currently conducting work situated in the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Glasgow; Joyce Leslie is working in close partnership with South Ayrshire council to explore how early years practitioners’ professional identity may have an impact on children’s earliest linguistic development; Dr. Margaret Allan and Khadija Mohammed are working alongside Gaelic and Urdu teachers in the West of Scotland to learn how secondary pupils’ attainment in lesser-used languages might be influenced by public discourse about linguistic diversity and broader equality issues.
S-BERG also makes full use of its role in the education of initial stage primary and secondary teachers: Dr. Stephen Day taken forward innovative work with an international scope which explores the expectations and preconceptions of initial-stage teachers vis-a-vis the delivery of Science curriculum. He has also published important data on the extent to which advanced qualifications equate to better mathematical knowledge for primary teaching which has been used by GTC Scotland to inform discussions on the reframing of the Memorandum on Entry Requirements to Programmes of Initial Teacher Education in Scotland.
S-BERG research is at the forefront of informing national and international educational policy, with recent contributions in the area of visual art education (Diarmuid McAuliffe), inclusion (Louise Barrett and Dr. Lisa McAuliffe), religious education (Dr. Yonah Matemba), and languages education (Dr. Margaret Allan). International contributions in these areas have wider implications for educational theory and professional development are being taken forward by a number of S-BERG researchers, including Prof. Donald Gillies, Dr. Anne Pirrie, and Dr. Stephen Day.
The nature of educational research and the unique Scottish education system means that the work of S-BERG does lend itself to UK-based impacts. S-BERG researchers have targeted Scottish or UK-based audiences by publishing in the following journals: Scottish Educational Review, Scottish Languages Review, and the British Educational Research Journal.
This work has received national recognition and resulted in invited talks to Holyrood Magazine (Dr. Lindsay Dombrowski, Khadija Mohammed, Dr. Margaret Allan). Our researchers also participate in a range of influential national bodies, including the Scottish Educational Research Association (SERA, currently Dr. Stephen Day and Dr. Susan Henderson-Bone); the Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE, Khadija Mohammed); and the Educational Institute of Scotland’s Anti-Racist Subcommittee (Khadija Mohammed).
Sharing practice internationally and thus across educational contexts is, of course, also of paramount importance. To this end, S-BERG researchers have published in a range of journals of international renown, including: Journal of Philosophy in Education, Religious Education, Sisyphus-Journal of Education, Pastoral Care in Education, International Journal of Leadership in Education: Theory and Practice, and the International Journal of Applied Linguistics. Our researchers have led and/or contributed to work of international scope on leadership in schools (Prof. Donald Gillies), languages education (Dr. Margaret Allan, Dr. Fernando Leon-Solis and Sandra McKechan in the EU-funded PETALL Project), and educational theory (Dr. Anne Pirrie, who has written innovative work on Lego™ and educational theory).
Strong partnerships exist between S-BERG researchers and researchers affiliated with all seven other initial teacher education providers in Scotland, the General Teaching Council for Scotland, Education Scotland, Scottish Qualifications Authority, and several local authorities as well as early years/primary/secondary settings (particularly South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, North and South Lanarkshire). Through the PETALL Project, our researchers have also worked closely alongside the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and University of Algarve, Portugal.