THE pound;7.5 million grants allocation that was announced today is the second major cash injection that the education research community has received from the Economic and Social Research Council's pound;12.5m Teaching and Learning Programme.
Last December the ESRC granted pound;1.9m to four research networks and two "career development associates" - academics who are in the early stages of promising research careers. Each of the networks will receive up to pound;450,000 while the two associates will have their salaries paid for three years.
The nine research teams who are to share the pound;7.5m will research one or more aspects of three big questions that were identified through UK-wide consultations:
how to increase motivation and engagement in learning;
how to use advances in research to promote learners' practical achievements; and
how to achieve continuous improvement in learning communities.
A further pound;500,000 is being invested in training for mid-
career researchers. The aim is to improve the quality of British research and help researchers develop their project management and dissemination skills.
But it is the nine Phase II projects that are the key element of the programme. As Professor Sir David Watson, chair of the programme steering committee, said:
"They represent an important investment in high-quality research."
The money has been provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Department for Education and Employment, the Scottish Executive, and the Welsh Assembly
The absence of a Welsh-based project may therefore cause some embarrassment, as will the relative inattention to special needs and lifelong learning.
But the programme's organisers feel there is no reason to be apologetic. "The nine projects, selected from a very strong field, will make a major contribution to improving outcomes for learners," Professor Sir David Watson predicted.
* THE other school-based projects that attracted ESRC awards were:
"Learning how to learn" (how teachers can help pupils to learn more effectively): Mary James
(University of Cambridge), Dylan Wiliam and Geoff Southworth.
"Interactive education - - teaching and learning in the information age" (using new technologies to improve learning in schools and colleges): Ros Sutherland (University of Bristol), Susan Robertson and Terry Atkinson.
"Home-school knowledge exchange and transformation" (increasing attainment through better home-school co-operation): Martin Hughes (University of Bristol), Andrew Pollard, Guy Claxton, David Johnson and Jan Winter.
"Sustainable thinking classrooms"(new teaching methods that will improve pupils' thinking skills): Carol McGuinness (Queen's University, Belfast) and Noel Sheehy.
"The role of awareness in the teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy in key stage 2"(better results through using knowledge about how pupils develop numeracy and literacy skills): Terezinha Nunes (Oxford Brookes University), Peter Bryant and Jane Hurry.