Practitioner Research programme

Women in discussion at a conference

ETF MPhil and MA short course research programme: 2017-2018 applications now open

Do you have a good research idea but need some support and some thinking time to make it happen? Do you want to develop your teaching skills or understand education practice better? Do you want to be a part of the future of teaching in your sector?

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) is committed to seeking opportunities to give practitioners the time and space to reflect, experiment, apply, and generate their own research evidence in order to improve their and their colleagues’ practice and ultimately outcomes for learners.

For several years,  the ETF has run a Practitioner Research programme in partnership with SUNCETT at the University of Sunderland. The programme offers you time and space, as well as expert research training and support from a renowned team of FE specialists. Over a period of residential visits (paid for by the ETF) you will be guided to grow and develop your ideas – if you have no previous experience of research but are willing to work towards a successful outcome, this programme is as much for you as it is for teachers with experience in this area. We are particularly interested to support practitioners who have been part of wider ETF practitioner research projects such as our OTLA and Professional Exchange activities.


New – The MA Short Course and MPhil

There are two opportunities available to apply for (both programmes will accept applications from any region of England, any type of provider and any type of practitioner role, including those who lead curriculum development and delivery).

  1. The  new ETF MPhil programme. Based on the hugely successful Research Development Fellowship (RDF) Programme which has been running since 2009, this programme offers the same first year experience as the RDF. In addition, participants now have the option to continue for a second year and gain a full MPhil research degree through the University of Sunderland. The second year is open to applicants who have undertaken the RDF in the past five years, subject to discussion with the Sunderland team. The ETF is supporting all costs on the programme as in previous years including bursary support (see below), with the exception of expecting a contribution to enrolment and graduation fees for the second year, currently charged at the subsidised rate of £400 in total.
  2. The MA Short course is intended for practitioners who would like the opportunity to initially develop their research ideas. This programme, also delivered in partnership with SUNCETT allows practitioners the opportunity to explore research into teaching practice on a slightly smaller scale, and also attracts bursary support.

The research programmes attract a bursary of £1,500 (Mphil) or £1,000 (MA) paid to your employer to support with necessary study time on the programme, and all costs of the residentials and course fees are covered if you are successful in your application. Participants who were members of the Society for Education and Training (SET) as of 1 June 2017 will be eligible for an additional £500 bursary.

We are keen to support development across all parts of the sector and in all disciplines. There are some key areas of focus which will attract preference, which are:

  • Maths and English teaching
  • Improvement in or development of technical teaching and the curriculum.

It is also an expectation of the programme that senior leadership backing from your employer is secured, and it is preferred that the research work being undertaken is related to development priorities for your organisation as demonstrated (for example) in quality improvement planning documentation or self assessment reporting.

Applications for the 2017-18 programme are now open. Download the application form.

All applications must be received by Monday 25 September 2017 at 5pm. 

Please note there is one application form for both programmes – the SUNCETT team will advise as to the most suitable pathway for your proposal based on your application and (telephone) interview. Telephone interviews will take place between 2-13 October 2017. 


You can download the abstracts of research that was undertaken during 2016-17.