Publication Cover


Contemporary Issues in Practitioner Education
Latest Articles
CrossRef citations to date
Research Article

Towards a research-engaged teaching profession: insider reflections on a collaborative approach to developing teachers in Wales as professional enquirers

, &
Received 20 Jan 2022
Accepted 02 Aug 2022
Published online: 10 Aug 2022


There is a substantial body of literature related to action research in all its various forms. A small contribution to that work within a UK setting, this paper reflects on the early evolution of a state-led initiative designed to develop teachers in Wales as professional enquirers. Launched in 2018 and ongoing at the time of writing, the National Professional Enquiry Project (NPEP) is a genuinely collaborative effort involving schools, universities and the regional education consortia as key delivery partners. Whilst other attempts at building research capacity within the nation’s teaching workforce have been made, the project is unique in the Welsh context as it requires different parts of the education system to work in lockstep under the same banner. The paper explores one university’s emancipatory approach to professional enquiry, and provides insight into the ‘lived experience’ from the perspective of lead enquirer, university researcher and regional facilitator. Drawing on its authors’ privileged access as active participants, it uses autoethnography to crystalise what is learnt from these experiences into five guiding principles – foundational skills development, stakeholder coherence, dedicated time, professional autonomy and shared vulnerability – upon which a fruitful collaborative approach to developing teachers as professional enquirers should be founded.


The integration of research into the day-to-day practice of teaching is nothing new (Cordingley 2015) and can be traced back to the 1970s when the influential work of Lawrence Stenhouse (1975) prompted a more considered view of the role of teachers in professional enquiry (a form of action research and the agreed designation for this paper). His portrayal of teachers as researchers (Kirkwood and Christie 2006) was important, as it cut through the dichotomous presentation of teachers as being somehow removed from the research process. Moreover, it made clear the position of teachers as active participants in and leaders of educational research, thus challenging the assumption that research is the domain only of ‘experts’ (Beycioglu et al. 2010). Indeed, it is widely acknowledged that the relegation of teachers to a more technical role that involves them carrying out the policies of others (Schön 1987, Gandin and Gomes de Lima 2015, Guerrero-Hernández and Fernández-Ugalde 2020) undermines their professional agency (Giroux 2013) and results in practitioners who are more inward-looking and focussed on the measurements against which they will be judged (Biesta 2017).

To counteract this unfortunate practice, Kincheloe (2003) argues the case for research as a vehicle for empowerment, which is incumbent on teachers providing themselves with the skills and resources that enable them to reflect meaningfully on their work. The deskilling of teachers, he says, takes place ‘when teachers are seen as receivers not producers of knowledge’ and ‘a vibrant professional culture depends on a group of practitioners who have the freedom to continuously reinvent themselves via their research and knowledge production’ (Kincheloe 2003, p. 19). In this paper, we reflect on the emergence and growth of one such professional culture, involving numerous actors from different ‘tiers’ of the Welsh education system (Welsh Government 2017) coalescing around a common goal – to support teachers in Wales to develop confidence in and use of enquiry to support improvements in practice, and with it, learner outcomes.

Project overview

The National Professional Enquiry Project (NPEP) was launched by the Welsh Government in collaboration with key stakeholders in September 2018 and is the embodiment of its vision for a teaching profession that is ‘research-engaged, well informed and learning from excellence at local, national and international levels’ (Welsh Government 2017, p. 11). This renewed focus on teacher professional learning (Milton et al. 2020) was to some extent inspired by Wales’ poor performance in successive Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) studies (see e.g. Rees and Taylor 2015, Reynolds 2016, Evans 2021) and a subsequent recommendation by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that schools should prioritise their application of enquiry and create stronger links with universities to help build a ‘thriving learning culture’ (OECD 2018, p. 15).

Initially involving three universities, all four regional education consortia (regional school improvement services, sitting at a local authority level) and 72 primary, secondary and special schools, the project has since expanded to incorporate all but one of Wales’ eight universities and more than 300 schools (roughly a fifth of all state schools in Wales, see ). Fundamentally, the project exists to support participating ‘lead enquirers’ (individual teachers chosen by their schools to lead this work on their behalf) to develop confidence in their use of enquiry as a tool to improve teaching and learning. Schools receive additional funding, paid by the government via the regional consortia, for the equivalent of approximately 25 days of lead enquirers’ time and universities are remunerated according to the number of schools they support.

Table 1. NPEP evolution.

In practical terms, the project requires universities to work together and with their local regional representatives to provide bespoke professional support to the groups of schools allocated to them by the Welsh Government (which invited applications from interested parties). These collaborative arrangements have continued into the 2021–22 academic year (the fourth and latest phase of enquiry activity) and are structured to blend more formal professional learning on aspects of enquiry with more informal, one-to-one support delivered to schools on a needs basis. Skills workshops – providing e.g. introduction to research questions, research ethics and research methods – are delivered periodically (typically face-to-face, but more recently online owing to COVID-19) and furnished with virtual ‘drop-in’ sessions, emailed correspondence and web calls as enquiries develop. In line with similar collaborative approaches (see e.g. DeLuca et al. 2015, Wall and Hall 2017, Lambirth et al. 2019), participants are encouraged to undertake research relevant to their own context and record what they do using a standard template written and agreed by project leads.

Policy context

Based on the assumption that teachers will become ‘lifelong professional learners that reflect on and enhance their own practice’ (Welsh Government 2017, p. 25), NPEP acts as a catalyst for meaningful close-to-practice research and recognises that ‘teachers must go beyond becoming researchers by accident’ (Babkie and Provost 2004, p. 261). It forms part of the Welsh Government’s wider education reform agenda and is integral to the overarching National Approach to Professional Learning, which seeks to provide all teachers in Wales with access to high-quality and effective professional learning opportunities (Welsh Government 2018). Crucially, and by virtue of ministers’ commitment to building an education system based on trust and professionalism (OECD 2020), NPEP positions teachers as ‘critical figures in the research enterprise’ (Carr and Kemmis 1986, p. 40) and recognises that for teachers to become learners, ‘they must be self-developing’ (Easton 2008, p. 756). The implications arising from this positioning, which will be explored in greater detail later, are usefully summarised by Lieberman and Miller (2004, p. 11), who note that ‘when teachers cast off the mantle of technical and managed worker and assume new roles as researchers, meaning makers, scholars, and inventors, they expand the vision of who they are and what they do’.

There have however been previous attempts to embed enquiry into Wales’ professional learning offer. In the early 2000s, the then General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) set aside financial support for individual teachers to conduct action research relevant to their own settings (GTCW 2002, 2005), albeit that the reallocation of state funding to different priority areas limited its impact (Jones 2011). In contrast, NPEP represents a more concerted approach to professional enquiry that is, unlike earlier iterations, underpinned by a more collaborative and systematic model of delivery involving stakeholders from all three tiers of Wales' education infrastructure (see ). It is, in effect, Wales’ attempt at ‘tri-level’ reform, described by Fullan (2009) as involving schools and their communities, districts or region, and the state.

Table 2. Wales’ three-tier education system (abbreviated from model presented in the Welsh Government’s National Mission (2017) policy document).

Since its inception, NPEP has benefitted from sustained government funding and an ambition to develop a ‘research-driven culture’ in Wales that recognises the value of teachers ‘who are committed to continuous learning’ (Welsh Government 2017, p. 25). This is particularly relevant in the context of the forthcoming and purpose-led Curriculum for Wales (CfW), which involves the reorganising of discrete subjects into Areas of Learning and Experience, and the adoption of ‘big ideas’ and ‘what matters statements’ to drive learning objectives (Hughes and Lewis 2020, Power et al. 2020, Evans 2021). A ‘radical departure from the top-down, teacher proof policy of the previous National Curriculum’ (Sinnema et al. 2020, p. 181), CfW requires teachers in Wales to play a more prominent part in the shaping of what and how children learn. Writing in Successful Futures, which provided the blueprint for CfW, Graham Donaldson warned that ‘the implications for the formation and subsequent growth of teachers as reflective practitioners are considerable’ (Donaldson 2015, p. 71).

The enquiry model

Universities were allowed discretion as to how they presented enquiry to schools, and thus this section outlines a discrete emancipatory approach specific to the paper’s authors. In this case, the enquiry model centred around a simple ‘plan, do and review’ cycle, based on the identification of a problem, the implementation of a possible solution and a subsequent evaluation (McNiff and Whitehead 2005, Baumfield et al. 2012). Drawing from Altrichter et al’s (2008) ‘Circle of Action and Reflection’ and Kaser and Halbert’s (2013) ‘Spiral of Inquiry’, we framed enquiry as iterative and grounded in reflective practice, which was considered ‘to be central to the growth of teachers as enquirers who engage in collaborative research’ (Leitch and Day 2000, p. 182).

Our approach is one of a wide range of research practices derived from the concept of action research (Lewin 1948, Corey 1953, Bryant 1986, Carr and Kemmis 1986, McNiff 2002), which has at its core an intimate relationship between research and some form of practical or political activity (Hammersley 2004) that ascribes teachers an active role ‘in changing their knowledge bases, beliefs and practice’ (Bleicher 2014, p. 802). While the nomenclature may vary, there appears broad agreement that action research should be both systematic and intentional (Cochran-Smith and Lytle 2009), and thus properly targeted, and based on the premise of ‘learning by doing’ (Riley and Moltzen 2011, p. 25). Teachers were encouraged to adopt a critical stance towards their own practice (Boyd 2022) and focus on something pertinent to them, their settings and their learners; they would be supported in refining their enquiry foci by a university-based research mentor, but all decision-making would be devolved and wholly owned by the lead enquirers themselves (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The five-step model of enquiry.

The model was developed collaboratively and identifies five key steps to the enquiry process, with scaffolded reflection at every stage (see Figure 1). In Step 1, teachers are encouraged to identify a problem they wish to interrogate and thus formulate their enquiry question. Akin to what Poekert (2011, p. 24) describes as the ‘wondering stage’, this could be specific to a group of learners, a particular department or, in some cases, something affecting the whole school. The first scheduled reflection, ‘Reflect (read)’, invites enquirers to explore literature related to their area of interest. At Step 2, teachers are advised to collect baseline data (e.g. that collected pre-intervention) relevant to their chosen sample that will support them in gauging impact. The following tranche of reflection, ‘Reflect (plan)’, requires them to consider their initial data collection and use it to plan their subsequent intervention; it may be that the projected intervention is adjusted as a result of the data collection, and this particular reflection gives teachers the opportunity to tailor their planned action accordingly. This freedom to deviate from the course set in Step 1 respects what Noffke and Stevenson (1995, p. 2) consider the ‘non‐linear pattern’ of enquiry; indeed, schools were reassured throughout the course of NPEP that changes to enquiry structure were anticipated, and thus entirely normal, rather than something to be discouraged.

Step 3 represents the point at which practice actually changes and is what McNiff (2002, p. 7) describes as the ‘possible solution’ to the ‘problematic area’, which forms the basis of the enquiry itself. Having introduced their intervention, enquirers are then expected to reflect and prepare for Step 4, during which data is collected for a second time and impact gauged; typically, this impact relates to learner outcomes and/or experiences, but it can concern staff, parents or even the wider school community. Upon completion of Step 4, practitioners reflect and triangulate their data, if derived from various sources, so as to analyse and evaluate their findings in Step 5. This final step (and subsequent refinement) represents the end of the enquiry process, though its cyclical construct ensures a possible continuation of activity beyond data analysis.

A collaborative approach

According to King and Newmann (2001, p. 86), teacher learning is most likely to occur when teachers have ‘opportunities to collaborate with professional peers, both within and outside of their school, along with access to the expertise of external researchers and programme developers’. NPEP is an embodiment of this approach and, cognisant that this type of collaboration should ‘occur in environments characterised by both trust and challenge’ (Timperley 2008, p. 16), has provided a vehicle for the exploration of new possibilities without fear of judgment or commercial sensitivities inhibiting creativity. This last point is particularly true of universities which, in normal circumstances, would be competing against one another for students, staff and the award of contracts.

In the case of schools, lead enquirers have formed new professional relationships with regional consortia leads, university researchers and their counterparts in other participating schools. Opportunities to network have been both structured (through the creation of enquiry clusters by regional leads) and unstructured (via more organic, school-led contact), and resulted in the growth of enquiry communities that allow ‘time [for teachers] to develop, discuss and practice new knowledge’ (Opfer and Pedder 2011, p. 384). This combination of structured and unstructured co-operation between partners at all levels is necessarily time and labour-intensive (Cochran-Smith and Lytle 1992, Baumann 1996, Currin 2019), but recognises that ‘effective school partnerships focus on constructive ways to produce collaboratively beneficial change by affirming members and stakeholders’ (Calabrese 2006, p. 173).

Creating the right conditions, and a non-threatening environment in which all parties are respectful of one another’s strengths and weaknesses, has been crucial to the short-term buy-in and longer-term sustainability of NPEP. For example, what university researchers lack in knowledge of the day-to-day challenges facing teachers, they make up for in experience of using enquiry tools, and vice-versa. Principally, by engaging in what Nelson et al. (2012, p. 25) call ‘dialogic negotiation’, and taking the time to understand each other’s ideas and values, we have as participants been able to overcome the perceived boundaries, or ‘turf issues’ (Hoover and Achilles 1996, p. 15), that separate our traditional working practices and move towards the development of what Hulme et al. (2009, p. 538) might describe as a ‘trans‐professional’ knowledge base.

It could be argued that the joining together of universities, regional consortia, schools and government has had a galvanising effect, with NPEP providing a platform for more meaningful collaboration and an interface for better communication between a diverse group of policy actors operating at micro (teacher/school), meso (regional consortia/university) and macro (government) levels. Bickel and Hattrup (1995, p. 37) note that sustained collaboration between teachers and researchers, in particular, is itself ‘a valuable mechanism’ for accessing and synthesising what each community knows about an issue.

Autoethnographic reflections

In this section of the paper, we present personal reflections based on our own first-hand involvement in the NPEP process. Recognising our proximity to project delivery, we assume the position of ‘insider’ (Brannick and Coghlan 2007, Mercer 2007), whose ‘privileged access’ (Merton 1972, p. 11) allows for a more vivid description ‘of the hermeneutics of everyday life’ (Trowler 2011, p. 2). This positionality is particularly pertinent given that insider research is typically undertaken within an organisation, group or community in which the researcher is also a member (Fleming 2018). As Smyth and Holian (2008, p. 34) attest, ‘researchers from within, particularly those undertaking action/practitioner research, are immersed, embedded and strongly connected with the researched in a shared setting, where they operate together on an ongoing basis’.

We use autoethnography as a means of empowering each ‘insider’ to describe their lived experience, from the perspective of a lead enquirer, university researcher and regional facilitator. Grounded in narrative inquiry, autoethnography ‘portrays and analyzes personal autobiographical narratives as a means of discerning one’s cultural experience’ (Malin and Hackmann 2016, p. 162). It provides a mechanism for those involved to ‘communicate personal experiences and dialogues regarding oneself or one’s interaction with others’ (Gurvitch et al. 2008, p. 249) and operates in the postmodern sphere, which privileges the participant’s voice and valorises his or her subjective experience (Schmid 2019). It was on this basis that we considered autoethnography, read through lived field experiences, an appropriate approach to data collection and ‘a powerful means of connecting personal experience to systemic social interactions’ (Besio 2020, p. 243).

Fundamentally, we respect that ‘every view is a way of seeing, not the way’ (Wolcott 1999, p. 137, italics in original) and for the paper to achieve authenticity, it must empower representatives of all key stakeholders to tell their own stories. Recognising autoethnography as a ‘narrative of self’ (Sparkes 2000, p. 21), we hope to have conveyed a ‘patchwork of feelings, experiences, emotions, and behaviours’ (Muncey 2005, p. 10) by holding ‘a critical mirror’ to what we did and why we did it (Megford 2006, p. 859). This does not mean, however, that the accounts presented here are necessarily reflective of the wider NPEP community and are based only on our own recollections of real-life events; instead, readers are afforded the opportunity to ‘enter the subjective world of the teller – to see the world from her or his point of view’ (Plummer 2001, p. 401). It is our hope that, in time, this brief compilation of experiences will ‘become part of a broader orchestra of telling’ (Schmid 2019, p. 268) that encourages others involved in collaborative enquiry to reflect publicly on their experiences for the benefit of others.

Autoethnographic reflections are presented as short written evaluations. These were loosely structured around key areas of interest (e.g. ‘what worked well/less well’; ‘in what forms was collaboration manifested?’; ‘how has your involvement in the project influenced practice?’) that were considered to be of most value to practitioners in other settings. In the interests of time and recognising that NPEP remains an ongoing endeavour, our ‘selective approach’ (Harding 2019, p. 35) to data collection ensured that contributions were focussed and aligned to the paper’s aims and objectives. The net result is what Chang (2013, p. 110) describes as ‘a running list of compelling experiences, professional curiosities, nagging issues, and intense emotions’. These were shared honestly and in good faith, acknowledging the myriad ethical challenges associated with autoethnographic study (Tullis 2013). One such challenge relates to respecting the rights of others, who retain a presence in self-narratives, either as active participants or background associates (Chang 2008). Thus care has been taken to avoid the identification of third parties and the potential for ‘relational concerns’ (Ellis 2007, p. 25) has been mitigated by the redaction of all data relating to smaller groups.

Authors were required to confirm their ‘process consent’ (Ellis 2007, p. 23) before participating in the study and reminded of their ‘personal and communal responsibility’ to reflect truthfully on their experiences, without implicating other participants in the NPEP process (Denzin 2003, p. 249). Mindful of the risk to autoethnographers ‘of leaning toward self-indulgence, superficiality, and sensationalism’ (Lapadat 2017, p. 593), we opened to scrutiny each individual contribution and discussed together whether our respective views constituted a fair representation of reality. Senior representatives of all key stakeholders were made aware of the research and were supportive of its publication. The resulting accounts, labelled A1-A3, are presented in full below.

A1: reflections of a regional facilitator

In my role as lead for research and higher education partnerships in one of the four regional consortia in Wales, I was responsible for the co-ordination of all NPEP schools in our catchment. This meant working closely with the Welsh Government and partner universities to facilitate workshops and provide a point of contact for teachers. In practical terms, my role was not as ‘hands-on’ as some of the others involved, and I was not required to lead on skills delivery. However, the careful brokering of relationships, for which I was principally responsible, was on reflection key to the success of NPEP in that it helped to break down barriers and create the conditions for meaningful collaboration. There was certainly a feeling amongst some teachers during the project’s formative stages that they ‘did not belong’, or to put it another way, research was not a world they were familiar with or felt comfortable in. The exposure to new approaches, practices and people was daunting for a number of those participating and I considered it a core part of my job to allay these concerns and reassure teachers that their sense of vulnerability was not extraordinary.

As an experienced teacher who had herself benefitted from undertaking enquiry in a previous setting, I felt well-placed to support new and emerging professional enquirers as they took their first tentative steps into the realm of educational research. This was, in truth, easier for some than it was for others and our suggestion that teachers should begin by reflecting on what aspects of their practice could be improved or strengthened for the benefit of learners was, in many cases, a slightly uncomfortable enterprise. Nevertheless, by problematising their day-to-day work, or what Kemmis (2006, p. 461) describes as the telling of ‘unwelcome truths’, we were able to open up much more honest discussion between enquiry partners. Developing a sense of trust that we could share our concerns without threat of repercussion was essential, and contributed to the feeling that we were ‘all in this together’. In time, a genuine community of practice (Wenger et al. 2002) would emerge, although this did not happen by chance and was achieved only when we had recognised the value of one another’s contribution to the collaborative exercise.

Initially, there was some misunderstanding of my role as regional facilitator and, together with university colleagues, we were often considered de facto leaders of learning, given our co-ordination of workshops and familiarity with established enquiry techniques. Indeed, there was in the early days of NPEP some dependence on project facilitators to provide teachers with answers to some of their more context-specific challenges, and I recall some tension at introductory sessions, in particular, when we encouraged participants to ‘work solutions out for yourselves’. We made it clear from the outset that while NPEP would support teachers in becoming ‘research-engaged’ and ‘research-active’, it would not do their thinking for them and it was important that professional enquirers saw themselves as leaders and makers of knowledge (Cochran-Smith and Lytle 2009). We encouraged teachers to take ownership of their enquiries by posing the following question:

Why would you want to try to answer your questions or solve your problems about your students and your teaching by using someone else’s methods, data, and results?

(Mertler 2013, p. 39, emphasis in original)

This was a turning point for some, who were beginning to make the connection that enquiry was a means of empowering them to make local decisions for the benefit of their own learners. It cut through some of the nervousness around the more technical aspects of enquiry (e.g. using research tools and data collection techniques for the first time) and gave teachers confidence to start trialling interventions that they had seen or heard about, but never actually used themselves.

In recent years, and as NPEP has developed in both scale and prominence, a series of ‘sharing our progress’ events have been introduced by the consortium to allow for more structured collaboration between what are now known as ‘lead enquiry schools’ and ‘partner enquiry schools’ (to differentiate between those who had been working on NPEP from the start and others who had joined later). One-to-one meetings have become increasingly informal (e.g. more conversational and less instructional) and attendance at optional ‘coffee and enquiry’ sessions, which give teachers a window of opportunity to drop-in online and discuss their enquiries with project leads, has gradually dropped off as the process of enquiry has become more embedded. As a package of support, these sessions have been beneficial in creating an informal, ‘safe space’ for schools to share their emerging findings and limitations in the presence of knowledgeable others (Vygotsky 1978).

Looking back, NPEP has been a journey of discovery for all those involved. There have been unquestionable highs, and watching teachers grow through the process of enquiry and reflecting on practice has in my view justified our collegiate approach to professional support. However, the same is not necessarily true of everybody and some have found juggling the daily rigours of teaching with a new focus on professional enquiry more problematic. These challenges have been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has had a profound and destabilising effect on schools (Harris and Jones 2020). In my experience, NPEP has worked best when those participating have seen enquiry as part and parcel of what it means to be a teacher; not a bolt-on or inconvenience, but something that drives reflection and keeps practice under constant review.

A2: reflections of a lead enquirer

As the designated lead enquirer of a medium-sized secondary school, I have been involved in four year-long cycles of enquiry that have each contributed to our school development plan (SDP) and allowed us to map a clearer vision for the new curriculum, as well as for teaching and learning. We have used the enquiry process to set clear aims and objectives that we can test, with a view to providing an evidence-base and rationale for the introduction of new strategies and approaches that will support our development and better prepare us for the challenges ahead (Dunn 2021).

I have always considered myself a reflective practitioner and regularly evaluate lessons in order to improve, but prior to accepting the role of lead enquirer I had, in truth, very little experience of formal enquiry in education. This was in part owing to an assumption that enquiry was for universities, and not something practising teachers had to do. I believed it to be separate to the day-to-day practice of teaching, and something you would be more likely to do whilst training or during your formative years in the profession. As a more experienced practitioner, the challenge of leading an enquiry was daunting as it was not something I had done for a long time, or at all in my current setting.

Our school’s involvement in NPEP has transformed my understanding of what it means to be a reflective practitioner (Schön 1983). I have become more aware of what I know and do not know, and how to build on and hone what I have done previously. Undertaking enquiry and reflecting on practice is about so much more than considering what went well and what could be improved after lessons. It is about a much deeper form of reflection, structured opportunities to engage with larger groups of people, and the generation of new ideas for the benefit of all involved. Ultimately, it is about identifying what works and what could be improved in a much more strategic way, and in a way that is grounded in research and built on a firmer evidence-base. In the case of our school, where it was once thought that implementing the new curriculum and our enquiry work would be two distinct elements, there has now been a realisation that they work most effectively in tandem and that one complements the other.

Building a constructive relationship with our university and regional partners has been instrumental in elevating our confidence as a school; their expertise has been invaluable and as mentors in the process, they have helped to simplify what can be considered a complicated process (Groothuijsen et al. 2020). Enquiry has been broken down into more manageable chunks and the approach of university researchers has been not to give us all the answers, but to support us in finding the answers for ourselves. Our collaborative journey has been one of togetherness and equality, rather than hierarchy, allowing a strong partnership of trust to build. This partnership was not established overnight, however, and has been developed organically and over time through regular check-ins and with constructive feedback and questioning that has helped us to delve deeper into our enquiries at each phase.

From my own personal perspective, engagement in educational research has allowed me to think more creatively about the new curriculum and ignited in me an even deeper passion for learning, particularly in relation to developing bespoke learning opportunities for pupils. I feel that my teaching is more informed and I can say with greater certainty that what I am doing in my classroom is having a positive impact. I also feel better equipped to support staff across the school in preparing for CfW, not least because I can now draw on evidence-based reasoning that is specific to our own context. This is perhaps best demonstrated by a recent conversation I had with a visiting school inspector; when challenged about a particular strategy we were using to trial aspects of the new curriculum, I noted that it would have been difficult to justify our approach without the findings from an earlier enquiry.

The promotion of enquiry as a professional learning tool has been ongoing in school since our first involvement in NPEP during 2018–19. It has acted as a springboard for staff development in aspects of enquiry and forms the basis of our long-term ‘action plan’ for professional learning. We are conscious though that building a culture of enquiry across the school will be no easy task, and necessitate a shift in teachers viewing enquiry as something that is disconnected from their normal practice, to something that is deep-seated and drives decision-making. This demands a professional investment on the part of teachers, who need opportunities to ‘thoughtfully look back and intentionally look forward’ (Currin 2019, p. 2) and develop the essential skills necessary to be able to engage meaningfully in the process of enquiry. To my mind, this requires that they understand that by becoming professional enquirers and ‘students of their craft’ (King 2002, p. 244), they will become better teachers and a more positive influence on the learners in their care.

A3: reflections of a university researcher

The position of ‘second order’ researcher is conceptually distinct from the ‘first order’ enquiry of participating teachers (Elliott 1991, p. 27). While the latter is commonly associated with developing pedagogical strategies, the second order researcher is interested more in ‘facilitating teachers’ reflective capacities’ (ibid). It was with this facilitatory function in mind that I assumed what Titchen (2004, p. 149) describes as the role of ‘critical companion’, derived from ‘a helping relationship in which one person accompanies another on an experiential learning journey’. That does not mean, however, that the learning journey was in any way restricted to lead enquirers only and, instead, opportunities to work with and learn from a wide variety of professionals was, in my view, of huge mutual benefit.

We made a conscious decision in the early stages of NPEP to position enquiry as a formalising of what teachers were doing in the classroom on a habitual basis; namely, that by trialling solutions to everyday problems, teachers were already engaging in the practice of enquiry. This was important, as it helped to normalise educational research and ground it more easily in teachers’ day-to-day practice (the word ‘research’ was itself focus of some contention initially, as teachers questioned the authenticity of their own school-based activity). In essence, we were mindful that in order to make enquiry ‘doable’ and not in any way burdensome, it would need to be purposeful, manageable and not add to the many competing demands on teachers’ time (Wall 2018).

Teachers were empowered to drive forward and shape their own enquiries. Initially, this meant reassuring lead enquirers that they ‘know their classrooms and learners better than anyone’, and by planning their own approaches they would be better-placed to find workable solutions to their own problems. In many cases, enquirers had a tendency to take on too much, too soon and researchers were subject to fairly frequent questioning from those seeking validation that what they were doing was ‘right’. This created a certain amount of tension, in that we were conscious of the need to balance our assistance in the refining of enquiry foci and research questions, whilst respecting teacher autonomy and ownership over their own work. To address this issue and to develop what Leeman and Wardekker (2014, p. 48) describe as ‘research competence’, we put together a standardised induction programme to ensure that all enquiries began on a level footing.

It is important to note that while the majority of participants were new to professional enquiry, a small minority had been through the process before and were adept at using research to inform practice. On reflection, having more experienced enquirers involved in the project worked to our advantage in that it enabled us to demonstrate more efficaciously, through invited comment and challenge, what we were introducing to the wider group. Without teachers’ input into some of these foundational workshops, it would have doubtless been more challenging to build that professional trust and with it, early momentum. These more accomplished enquirers became our flagbearers, although there was some evidence, particularly early on, of what Helterbran (2010, p. 363) describes as ‘I am just a teacher syndrome’, with some teachers displaying a lack of confidence that belied their experience. This marked an important juncture in their journey from teacher to teacher-researcher and, returning to the influential work of Stenhouse (1975, p. 142), recognises that in order for enquiry to embed properly ‘teacher’s professional self-image… will have to change’.

Broadly speaking, as practitioners have become more adept in their application of enquiry to drive improvement, they have become more self-sustaining and less reliant on outsider input (Peters and Gray 2007, King 2012). Informal ‘coffee and enquiry’ sessions have replaced the more skills-heavy communal workshops, and teachers are encouraged to ‘drop-in’ at scheduled times to discuss their latest developments with university researchers. However, given their optional nature, attendance at these sessions has been patchy and we do not necessarily see all those who would benefit most from these discussions. This has led to some enquirers becoming more distant from the project, and the failure of some practitioners (particularly those known to be falling behind) to attend at all has resulted in more regulatory contact via email or telephone.

Checking-in with enquirers considered more at risk of losing ground in their enquiry cycles is somewhat symptomatic of the broader tensions that exist in a project of this type. For while I acknowledge that the development of teachers as researchers happens ‘from the inside out’ (Schulte and Klipfel 2016, p. 457), there is also a contractual obligation on the part of those involved to deliver on its external aims and objectives (i.e. schools being paid for their involvement and the writing of evaluative reports). This adds a layer of pressure on teachers and facilitators to meet set deadlines, and ensures that lead enquirers are never completely free to develop their enquiries in a way befitting of their own needs. Similarly, it is important to remember that participating enquirers are only really present at workshops and drop-in sessions because of the additional funding their schools receive to release them. Without it, a good number are unlikely to have ever engaged in enquiry and it is because of this additional resource that they have been able to find the time and space to meaningfully reflect on and challenge what happens in the classroom.


Respecting that each of the reflections presented in this paper is drawn from its own unique experience, there are nevertheless some noticeable similarities between contributions. First, and notwithstanding the project’s collaborative ethos, there is a clear consensus that the process of professional enquiry should be led firmly by teachers. This is evidenced in the description of enquiry, by a regional facilitator, as ‘a means of empowering them (lead enquirers) to make local decisions for the benefit of their own learners’ (A1). The want of university researchers to ‘normalise educational research and ground it more easily in teachers’ day-to-day practice’ (A3) appears to correlate with the conceptualisation of enquiry as ‘not a bolt-on or inconvenience, but something that drives reflection and keeps practice under constant review’ (A2). However, our findings also highlight tensions inherent in a project of this type, e.g. a project that involves representatives from a range of backgrounds working collaboratively.

In some respects, the bringing together of professionals from regional consortia, universities and schools was essential, in that it opened up new lines of communication and allowed participants to collaborate with people with whom they had never before come into contact. Nevertheless, that we each joined the project from different places, and with different skillsets, did lead to some initial confusion over who was responsible for what. Take, for example, the misconception that together regional facilitators and university researchers would ‘lead learning’ and ‘provide teachers with answers’ (A1) to their enquiry questions. This appears to have stemmed, at least in part, from teachers’ pre-conceived perception of research as ‘not something practising teachers had to do’ (A2) and ‘something you would be more likely to do whilst training or during your formative years in the profession’ (A2). From our experience, we consider this to be representative of the views of a much wider group of people, and a fallacy that project leads have had to work hard to dispel.

Of course, there is a key distinction here between the leading of school-based enquiries and leading of the project more generally. For whilst it is imperative that teachers are given the freedom ‘to find workable solutions to their own problems’ (A3), and thus enquire into activity that is of most interest to them and their learners, so too is it important that the project benefits from effective strategic direction. Indeed, the ‘contractual obligation’ (A3) of participants to fulfil targets set by government is a useful reminder of the duties flowing from a state-led initiative, that is publicly-funded and awarded via tender. While none of the contributors to this paper benefitted directly from the financial support awarded to NPEP, it is impossible to divorce ourselves completely from it given the very tangible difference additional resource has made.

Previous studies have shown that ‘money buys time’ and creates the space for teachers to reflect, plan and gain new knowledge (Aubusson et al. 2005, p. 21). This particular project is no different, and NPEP has been almost solely reliant on the long-term commitment of the Welsh Government to growing a culture of enquiry in Wales’ schools. Without it, teachers would have been unable to guarantee the time necessary to engage in reflective practice and the more labour-intensive aspects of their enquiry journeys. However, the suggestion that ‘lead enquirers are never completely free to develop their enquiries in a way befitting of their own needs’ (A3) is somewhat unsettling in this context, in that it opens to question the authenticity of a research culture that is subsidised by government, or whether a legitimate state-funded research culture can exist at all. There are certainly some performative connotations associated with the expectation that teachers complete a standardised reporting template within a pre-determined timetable.

With that in mind and despite it having engaged hundreds of teachers across Wales, we acknowledge that the extent to which NPEP can be considered a truly national project is at this point highly questionable. Notwithstanding a steady scaling-up of participants (from 72 schools in 2018–19 to 300 schools in 2021–22), NPEP still currently involves only a fifth of all state schools in Wales, meaning that the vast majority are as yet untouched by the project’s reach. NPEP’s impact at a system-level is further challenged by its design model, which requires individual lead practitioners to drive enquiry in their own settings. This in itself is problematic, as with no clear and universal instruction to schools that practitioners should be routinely sharing their experiences with colleagues (either internally or externally), attempts to circulate what has been learnt for wider benefit has been left largely to chance. And therein lies a significant challenge for NPEP moving forward; for if Wales is genuinely committed to developing a research-engaged teaching profession (Welsh Government 2017), then it must work to build on what has been achieved since 2018 and ensure that every school in every part of the country has access to the same level of opportunity. A long-term sustainable funding model, and exploration of how best to cascade prior learning throughout the system, will be essential in delivering on that aim.

Conclusion: guiding principles

We conclude this paper by acknowledging that our close association with NPEP and, in some cases, input into its strategic direction, could have resulted in a more optimistic account of its development than might otherwise be suggested. Furthermore, it is important that our autoethnographic contributions are taken in the way in which they were intended; as early reflections on an ongoing project that will, in all likelihood, be subject to more extensive evaluation as it draws towards a more natural cessation. Nevertheless, we believe that the parallels between the accounts provided gives weight to their validity, and justifies our approach to capturing the views of those closest to project delivery.

In her four-phase reflective cycle, Rodgers (2002, p. 231) presents a framework for extended enquiry ‘that slows down teachers’ thinking processes and asks them to observe carefully and describe in detail – as an artist might – selected situations within the classroom’. The model of enquiry presented in this paper comes from the same stable, in that it recognises the need for teachers to step back from the hustle and bustle of their daily routines to better understand what it is happening around them; to consider the things that could be enhanced or developed to facilitate improved learner outcomes. This thinking has been fundamental to our collaborative approach, and reflects what we believe should be benefits to both the pupil and the teacher arising from this form of reflective practice. These enhanced learning opportunities are not, however, restricted to those directly engaged in the process of enquiry, and creating a forum for mutual learning – involving all key delivery partners – is in our view integral to the building of research capacity in this way.

Drawing on our own collective experiences, we offer the following five principles as providing a bedrock for this forum of mutual learning and the basis for a fruitful collaborative approach to developing teachers as professional enquirers:

  • Foundational skills development – before they begin, teachers need to know how to conduct their enquiries. As such, we consider a grounding in key foundational skills essential to any co-ordinated capacity-building across an education system;

  • Stakeholder coherence – the carefully planned interaction of different stakeholders, operating at different levels of the system, has a unifying effect and makes best use of the range of expertise available. Collaborating in this way respects the interconnectivity that exists in education and requires that those involved coalesce around a common goal;

  • Dedicated time – teachers must be given the time and space necessary to engage properly in this important work. This is largely dependent on strong leaders respecting teachers’ learning journeys and planning for the release of their enquiring staff from timetabled duties;

  • Professional autonomy – facilitators should resist the temptation to take direction of individual school-based enquiries. Teachers should be encouraged to take ownership of their enquiries and other external parties should support, rather than steer. This is an important distinction and one of which university researchers, in particular, should be most conscious;

  • Shared vulnerability – the fifth and final principle is primarily attitudinal, and relates to the readiness of practitioners at all levels to engage in new professional practices. Fundamentally, teachers, researchers and facilitators must invest fully in the learning process, recognising that in so doing, they commit to ‘shared vulnerability’ (Corkery et al. 2015) and ‘exposure of the self in the presence of others’ (Pignatelli 2011, p. 221).

Together, these guiding principles should be considered the cornerstone of a collaborative and emancipatory approach to professional enquiry; an approach that encourages participants, as leaders of learning, to ‘ignore traditional boundaries and move freely across communities of practice’ (Collinson 2012, p. 264).

Disclosure statement

All of the paper’s authors have been funded, via their parent organisations, to participate in the National Professional Enquiry Project. The chief funding organisation is aware of this publication, but had no involvement in its writing.

Correction Statement

This article has been corrected with minor changes. These changes do not impact the academic content of the article.

Additional information

Notes on contributors

Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans is director of education policy and NPEP lead at Yr Athrofa: Centre for Education, University of Wales Trinity Saint David;

Sally Llewellyn

Sally Llewellyn is service manager for Curriculum for Wales and professional learning, Schools and Education Service, Powys County Council. She was formerly lead for research and higher education partnerships in the ERW regional consortium;

Jai Lewabe

Jai Lewabe is lead professional learning practitioner and head of humanities at Cefn Hengoed Community School, Swansea.


  • Altrichter, H., et al., 2008. Teachers investigate their work: an introduction to action research across the professions. New York: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
  • Aubusson, P., Brady, L., and Dinham, S., 2005. Action learning: what works? NSW: NSW Department of Education and Training. [Google Scholar]
  • Babkie, A.M. and Provost, M.C., 2004. Teachers as researchers. Intervention in school and clinic, 39 (5), 260268. doi:10.1177/10534512040390050201 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Baumann, J.F., 1996. Conflict or compatibility in classroom inquiry? One teacher’s struggle to balance teaching and research. Educational researcher, 25 (7), 2936. [Google Scholar]
  • Baumfield, V., Hall, E., and Wall, K., 2012. Action research in education: learning through practitioner enquiry. London: SAGE. [Google Scholar]
  • Besio, K., 2020. Autoethnography. In: A. Kobayashi, ed. International encyclopedia of human geography. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier, 243247. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Beycioglu, K., Ozer, N., and Ugurlu, C.T., 2010. Teachers’ views on educational research. Teaching and teacher education, 26 (4), 10881093. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2009.11.004 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Bickel, W.E. and Hattrup, R.A., 1995. Teachers and researchers in collaboration: reflections on the process. American educational research journal, 32 (1), 3562. doi:10.3102/00028312032001035 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Biesta, G., 2017. Education, measurement and the professions: reclaiming a space for democratic professionality in education. Educational philosophy and theory, 49 (4), 315330. doi:10.1080/00131857.2015.1048665 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Bleicher, R.E., 2014. A collaborative action research approach to professional learning. Professional development in education, 40 (5), 802821. doi:10.1080/19415257.2013.842183 [Taylor & Francis Online][Google Scholar]
  • Boyd, P., 2022. Teachers’ research literacy as research-informed professional judgment. In: P. Boyd, A. Szplit, and Z. Zbróg, eds. Developing teachers’ research literacy: international perspectives. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Libron, 1743. [Google Scholar]
  • Brannick, T. and Coghlan, D., 2007. In defense of being “native”: the case for insider academic research. Organizational research methods, 10 (1), 5974. doi:10.1177/1094428106289253 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Bryant, I., 1986. Action research and reflective practice. In: D. Scott and R. Usher, eds. Understanding educational research. London: Routledge, 106109. [Google Scholar]
  • Calabrese, R., 2006. Building social capital through the use of an appreciative inquiry theoretical perspective in a school and university partnership. International journal of educational management, 20 (6), 173182. [Google Scholar]
  • Carr, W. and Kemmis, S., 1986. Becoming critical: education, knowledge, and action research. revised edition. London: Falmer Press. [Google Scholar]
  • Chang, H., 2008. Autoethnography as method. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. [Google Scholar]
  • Chang, H., 2013. Individual and collaborative autoethnography as method: a social scientist’s perspective. In: S. Holman Jones, T.E. Adams, and C. Ellis, eds. Handbook of autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 107122. [Google Scholar]
  • Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S.L., 1992. Communities for teacher research: fringe or forefront? American journal of education, 100 (3), 298324. doi:10.1086/444019 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S.L., 2009. Inquiry as stance: practitioner research in the next generation. New York: Teachers College Press. [Google Scholar]
  • Collinson, V., 2012. Leading by learning, learning by leading. Professional development in education, 38 (2), 247266. doi:10.1080/19415257.2012.657866 [Taylor & Francis Online][Google Scholar]
  • Cordingley, P., 2015. The contribution of research to teachers’ professional learning and development. Oxford review of education, 41 (2), 234252. doi:10.1080/03054985.2015.1020105 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Corey, S.M., 1953. Action research to improve school practice. New York: Teachers’ College, Colombia University. [Google Scholar]
  • Corkery, J., et al., 2015. Shared vulnerability in professional learning: growing instructional coaches in a culture of PDS partnership. School-university partnerships, 8 (2), 7278. [Google Scholar]
  • Currin, E., 2019. From rigor to vigor: the past, present, and potential of inquiry as stance. Journal of practitioner research, 4 (1), Article 2. doi:10.5038/2379-9951.4.1.1091 [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • DeLuca, C., et al., 2015. Collaborative inquiry as a professional learning structure for educators: a scoping review. Professional development in education, 41 (4), 640670. doi:10.1080/19415257.2014.933120 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Denzin, N.K., 2003. Performance ethnography: critical pedagogy and the politics of culture. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Sage. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Donaldson, G., 2015. Successful futures. Cardiff: Welsh Government. [Google Scholar]
  • Dunn, R., 2021. Teacher Inquiry: towards a typology of a teacher’s inquiry disposition. Professional development in education, 115. doi:10.1080/19415257.2021.1879219 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Easton, L.B., 2008. From professional development to professional learning. The Phi Delta Kappan, 89 (10), 755761. doi:10.1177/003172170808901014 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Elliott, J., 1991. Action research for educational change. Buckingham: Open University Press. [Google Scholar]
  • Ellis, C., 2007. Telling secrets, revealing lives: relational ethics in research with intimate others. Qualitative inquiry, 13 (1), 329. doi:10.1177/1077800406294947 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Evans, G., 2021. Back to the future? Reflections on three phases of education policy reform in Wales and their implications for teachers. Journal of educational change. doi:10.1007/s10833-021-09422-6 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Fleming, J., 2018. Recognizing and resolving the challenges of being an insider researcher in work-integrated learning. International journal of work-integrated learning, 19 (3), 311320. [Google Scholar]
  • Fullan, M., 2009. Large-scale reform comes of age. Journal of educational change, 10 (2–3), 101113. doi:10.1007/s10833-009-9108-z [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Gandin, L. and Gomes de Lima, I., 2015. Reconfiguração do trabalho docente: um exame a partir da introdução de programas de intervenção pedagógica. Revista Brasileira de Educação, 20 (62), 663677. doi:10.1590/S1413-24782015206206 [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Giroux, H., 2013. Neoliberalism’s war against teachers in dark times. Cultural studies ↔ Critical methodologies, 13 (6), 458468. doi:10.1177/1532708613503769 [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Government, W., 2017. Education in Wales: our national mission; action plan 2017–2021. Cardiff: Welsh Government. [Google Scholar]
  • Groothuijsen, S.E.A., et al., 2020. Teacher-researchers’ quality concerns for practice-oriented educational research. Research papers in education, 35 (6), 766787. doi:10.1080/02671522.2019.1633558 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • GTCW, 2002. Continuing professional development: an entitlement for all. Cardiff: GTCW. [Google Scholar]
  • GTCW, 2005. Professional development framework for teachers in Wales: advice to the Welsh assembly government. Cardiff: GTCW. [Google Scholar]
  • Guerrero-Hernández, G.R. and Fernández-Ugalde, R.A., 2020. Teachers as researchers: reflecting on the challenges of research–practice partnerships between school and university in Chile. London review of education, 18 (3), 423438. doi:10.14324/LRE.18.3.07 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Gurvitch, R., Carson, R.L., and Beale, A., 2008. Being a protégé: an autoethnographic view of three teacher education doctoral programs. Mentoring & tutoring: Partnership in learning, 16 (3), 246262. doi:10.1080/13611260802231625 [Taylor & Francis Online][Google Scholar]
  • Hammersley, M., 2004. Action research: a contradiction in terms? Oxford review of education, 30 (2), 165181. doi:10.1080/0305498042000215502 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Harding, J., 2019. Qualitative data analysis: from start to finish. 2nd. Los Angeles: Sage. [Google Scholar]
  • Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2020. COVID 19 – school leadership in disruptive times. School Leadership & Management, 40 (4), 243247. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Helterbran, V.R., 2010. Teacher leadership: overcoming “I am just a teacher syndrome”. Education, 131 (2), 363371. [Google Scholar]
  • Hoover, S. and Achilles, C.M., 1996. Let’s make a deal: collaborating on a full-service school with your community. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. [Google Scholar]
  • Hughes, S. and Lewis, H., 2020. Tensions in current curriculum reform and the development of teachers’ professional autonomy. The curriculum journal, 31 (2), 290302. doi:10.1002/curj.25 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Hulme, R., Cracknell, D., and Owens, A., 2009. Learning in third spaces: developing trans‐professional understanding through practitioner enquiry. Educational action research, 17 (4), 537550. doi:10.1080/09650790903309391 [Taylor & Francis Online][Google Scholar]
  • Jones, K., 2011. Central, local and individual continuing professional development (CPD) priorities: changing policies of CPD in Wales. Professional development in education, 37 (5), 759776. doi:10.1080/19415257.2011.616089 [Taylor & Francis Online][Google Scholar]
  • Kaser, L. and Halbert, J., 2013. Spirals of inquiry for equity and quality. Vancouver: BCPVPA Press. [Google Scholar]
  • Kemmis, S., 2006. Participatory action research and the public sphere. Educational action research, 14 (4), 459476. doi:10.1080/09650790600975593 [Taylor & Francis Online][Google Scholar]
  • Kincheloe, J., 2003. Teachers as researchers: qualitative inquiry as a path to empowerment. New York: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
  • King, M.B., 2002. Professional development to promote schoolwide inquiry. Teaching and teacher education, 18 (3), 243257. doi:10.1016/S0742-051X(01)00067-1 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • King, F., 2012. Developing and sustaining teachers’ professional learning: a case study of collaborative professional development. A thesis submitted in part fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Lincoln for the degree of doctor of education – educational research and development. Lincoln: Centre for Educational Research and Development, University of Lincoln. [Google Scholar]
  • King, M.B. and Newmann, F.M., 2001. Building school capacity through professional development: conceptual and empirical considerations. International journal of educational management, 15 (2), 8693. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Kirkwood, M. and Christie, D., 2006. The role of teacher research in continuing professional development. British journal of educational studies, 54 (4), 429448. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8527.2006.00355.x [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Lambirth, A., et al., 2019. Teacher-led professional development through a model of action research, collaboration and facilitation. Professional development in education, 47 (5), 815833. doi:10.1080/19415257.2019.1685565 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Lapadat, J.C., 2017. Ethics in autoethnography and collaborative autoethnography. Qualitative inquiry, 23 (8), 589603. doi:10.1177/1077800417704462 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Leeman, Y. and Wardekker, W., 2014. Teacher research and the aims of education. Teachers and teaching, 20 (1), 4558. doi:10.1080/13540602.2013.848516 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Leitch, R. and Day, C., 2000. Action research and reflective practice: towards a holistic view. Educational action research, 8 (1), 179193. doi:10.1080/09650790000200108 [Taylor & Francis Online][Google Scholar]
  • Lewin, K., 1948. Action research and minority problems. In: W.G. Lewin, ed. Resolving social conflicts: selected papers on group dynamics. New York, London: Harper & Row Publishers, 201216. [Google Scholar]
  • Lieberman, A. and Miller, L., 2004. Teacher leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. [Google Scholar]
  • Malin, J.R. and Hackmann, D.G., 2016. Mentoring as socialization for the educational leadership professoriate: a collaborative autoethnography. Mentoring and tutoring: Partnership in learning, 24 (2), 158178. doi:10.1080/13611267.2016.1170561 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • McNiff, J., 2002. Action research: principles and practice. London: Routledge. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J., 2005. Action research for teachers: a practical guide. London: David Fulton Publishers. [Google Scholar]
  • Megford, K., 2006. Caught with a fake ID: ethical questions about slippage in autoethnography. Qualitative Inquiry, 12 (5), 853864. doi:10.1177/1077800406288618 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Mercer, J., 2007. The challenges of insider research in educational institutions: wielding a double‐edged sword and resolving delicate dilemmas. Oxford review of education, 33 (1), 117. doi:10.1080/03054980601094651 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Mertler, C.A., 2013. Classroom-based action research: revisiting the process as customizable and meaningful professional development for educators. Journal of pedagogic development, 3 (3), 3842. [Google Scholar]
  • Merton, R., 1972. Insiders and outsiders; A chapter in the sociology of knowledge. American journal of sociology, 78 (July), 947. doi:10.1086/225294 [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Milton, E., et al., 2020. Can schools really provide the learning environment that new teachers need? Complexities and implications for professional learning in Wales. Professional development in education, 114. doi:10.1080/19415257.2020.1767177 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Muncey, T., 2005. Doing autoethnography. International journal of qualitative methods, 4 (1), 6986. doi:10.1177/160940690500400105 [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Nelson, T.H., Slavit, D., and Deuel, A., 2012. Two dimensions of an inquiry stance toward student learning data. Teachers college record: the voice of scholarship in education, 114 (8), 142. doi:10.1177/016146811211400807 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Noffke, S.E. and Stevenson, R.B., 1995. Educational action research: becoming practically critical. New York: Teachers College Press. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • OECD, 2018. Developing schools as learning organisations in Wales. Paris: OECD. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • OECD, 2020. Achieving the new curriculum for Wales: OECD education policy perspectives. Paris: OECD. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Opfer, V.D. and Pedder, D., 2011. The lost promise of teacher professional development in England. European journal of teacher education, 34 (1), 324. doi:10.1080/02619768.2010.534131 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Peters, J. and Gray, A., 2007. Closing the theory-practice split: students and professors as co-constructors of knowledge. Presented at the Organizational Studies Conference, Crete, Greece. [Google Scholar]
  • Pignatelli, F., 2011. Being accountable: why friendship, vulnerability, and forgiveness matter. Schools: Studies in education, 8 (2), 215230. doi:10.1086/662107 [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Plummer, K., 2001. The call of life stories in ethnographic research. In: P. Atkinson, et al., eds. Handbook of ethnography. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 395406. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Poekert, P., 2011. The pedagogy of facilitation: teacher inquiry as professional development in a Florida elementary school. Professional development in education, 37 (1), 1938. doi:10.1080/19415251003737309 [Taylor & Francis Online][Google Scholar]
  • Power, S., Newton, N., and Taylor, C., 2020. ‘Successful futures’ for all in Wales? The challenges of curriculum reform for addressing educational inequalities. The curriculum journal, 31 (2), 317333. doi:10.1002/curj.39 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Rees, G. and Taylor, C., 2015. Is there a ‘crisis’ in Welsh education? Transactions of the honourable society of cymmrodorion, 2015, 97113. [Google Scholar]
  • Reynolds, D., 2016. Education in Wales: how do we move from troubled and troubling to transformational? Cylchgrawn Addysg Cymru / Wales journal of education, 18 (1), 161178. doi:10.16922/wje.18.1.10 [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Riley, T. and Moltzen, R., 2011. Learning by doing: action research to evaluate provisions for gifted and talented students. Kairaranga, 12 (1), 2331. doi:10.54322/kairaranga.v12i1.154 [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Rodgers, C., 2002. Voices Inside Schools. Harvard educational review, 72 (2), 230253. doi:10.17763/haer.72.2.5631743606m15751 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Schmid, J., 2019. Autoethnography: locating the self as standpoint in post-apartheid South Africa. In: S. Laher, ed. Transforming research methods in the social sciences: case studies from South Africa. Johannesburg, South Africa: Wits University Press, 265279. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Schön, D.A., 1983. The reflective practitioner. New York: Basic Books. [Google Scholar]
  • Schön, D.A., 1987. Educating the reflective practitioner: toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. [Google Scholar]
  • Schulte, A. and Klipfel, L.H., 2016. External influences on an internal process: supporting preservice teacher research. The educational forum, 80 (4), 457465. doi:10.1080/00131725.2016.1206158 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Sinnema, C., Nieveen, N., and Priestley, M., 2020. Successful futures, successful curriculum: what can Wales learn from international curriculum reforms? The curriculum journal, 31 (2), 181201. doi:10.1002/curj.17 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Smyth, A. and Holian, R., 2008. Credibility issues in research from within organisations. In: P. Sikes and A. Potts, eds. Researching education from the inside. Investigations from within. New York, NY: Routledge, 3347. [Google Scholar]
  • Sparkes, A.C., 2000. Autoethnography and narratives of self: reflections on criteria in action. Sociology of sport journal, 17 (1), 2143. doi:10.1123/ssj.17.1.21 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]
  • Stenhouse, L., 1975. An introduction to curriculum research and development. London: Heinemann. [Google Scholar]
  • Timperley, H., 2008. Teacher professional learning and development. (Educational Practices Series 18). Geneva: UNESCO International Bureau of Education. [Google Scholar]
  • Titchen, A., 2004. Helping relationships for practice development: critical companionship. In: B. McCormack, K. Manley, and R. Garbett, eds. Practice development in nursing. Oxford: Blackwell, 148174. [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Trowler, P., 2011. Researching your own institution: Higher education. [Accessed 10 March 2022]. Available from: [Google Scholar]
  • Tullis, J.A., 2013. Self and others: ethics in autoethnographic research. In: S.H. Jones, T.E. Adams, and C. Ellis, eds. Handbook of autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 244261. [Google Scholar]
  • Vygotsky, L.S., 1978. Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [Google Scholar]
  • Wall, K., 2018. Building a bridge between pedagogy and methodology: emergent thinking on notions of quality in practitioner enquiry. Scottish educational review, 50 (2), 322. doi:10.1163/27730840-05002002 [Crossref][Google Scholar]
  • Wall, K. and Hall, E., 2017. The teacher in teacher-practitioner research: three principles of inquiry. In: P. Boyd and A. Szplit, eds. International perspectives: teachers and teacher educators learning through enquiry. Kielce-Krakow: The Jan Kochanowski University, 3562. [Google Scholar]
  • Welsh Government. 2018. The National Approach to Professional Learning. [Accessed 10 December 2021]. Available from: [Google Scholar]
  • Wenger, E., McDermott, R., and Snyder, W., 2002. Cultivating communities of practice. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. [Google Scholar]
  • Wolcott, H.F., 1999. Ethnography: a way of seeing. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira. [Google Scholar]